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Leo@fergusrules.com Paperback – October 1, 1999
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From Publishers Weekly
A lonely 14-year-old Filipino-Italian-American girl sets off on a virtual quest in Tangherlini's promising if uneven futuristic debut novel. There is much to like about the boastful, self-loathing first-person narrator, Leo, whose sassiness has gotten her thrown out of 17 different schools around the world. Feeling abandoned by her parents and living under guard in Manila with her ailing, superstitious grandmother Lola Flor, Leo spends her free time online, battling the forces of evil in the virtual land of Apeiron as her male alter ego, Fergus (inspired by William Butler Yeats's poem, "Who Goes with Fergus"). Before the reader is given a chance to become immersed in Leo's troubled real teenage life, she ducks into her computer: "Whenever I made a fool of myself in school or at home," she writes, "I went to Apeiron to start over." An electronic black hole, called Dlin, has swallowed a file containing her online kindred spirit, Bri, and with the help of the bumbling monk Fra Umberto, Leo heads out to find Bri and bring him back. The rest of the novel is an account of Leo's meandering odyssey to many strange lands, where she encounters Aristotle and Socrates (in a wax museum), gargoyles and former classmates and teachers. Ultimately, she lands in the furnace fueling a fantastic Zamboni ice-cleaning machine, peopled by tiny people much like "duwendes," mythical creatures described to her by her grandmother. Leo's final epiphany is an unsurprising oneAshe realizes her "strangeness" is caused by her isolationAbut Tangherlini's creative use of dream imagery and his appealing narrator redeem his unusual short novel. A moving afterword by Pagan Kennedy is a eulogy to the author, who died three weeks before the book was accepted for publication. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Like John Kennedy Toole, Tangherlini's reputation will be established with a posthumous, single novel. Tangherlini succeeds wonderfully with his postmodern coming-of-age story. "Leo," a 14-year-old Asian American girl named Leonora, is thrown out of countless schools before she is sent to live with her grandmother in the Philippines. For entertainment, the young genius cavorts in the virtual reality program Apeiron, role-playing as the warrior Fergus and leaving behind her awkward, adolescent life. Within Apeiron, Leo learns about the computer-generated universe, Dlon. Once within this universe, she attempts to locate a missing boy she likes named Bri. She descends into Dlon's circles of hell, accompanied by Fra Umberto, a Dominican monk, and battles fantastic monsters and demons. Her biggest confrontation, however, will be with herself. Leo@fergusrules.com pays enormous tribute to Dante's Inferno, but Tangherlini has created his own unique and sophisticated masterpeice.AFaye A. Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon Libs., Eugene
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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It isn't the plot, however, that makes this book amazing. Inside the new world, Leo encounters scenario after scenario of bizarre characters and fantastical situations. Whether trapped in a piggish clown school, talking to suicide-victims in the form of plants, or facing President McKinley's violent invasion of her grandmother's village, each scenario is breathtakingly detailed by the author with his writing.
One reviewer complained about how the plot seemed to stop moving once Leo starting facing the various scenarios of the virtual world, but for me, it's the utter weirdness that made this book work so well. The plot didn't matter to me so much as the imagination of the author. Much like Alice in Wonderland, Leo@FergusRules.com is a book where you just gotta lay back and enjoy the weirdness.
Arne Tangherlini's book defies, no doubt by design, any simple categorization. For the adventurous and reflective reader,young in age or only in spirit, its protean character will be its appeal.
What draws us in first is the sheer JOY IN LANGUAGE, the delight in the art of composition, which, as in the Italian classic which it remembers and recalls, is seductive even when depicting scenes of the most fantastical horror or, as in more contemporary literature, when painting moods of the utmost banality. As in poetry worthy of the name and in the best and most exhilarating of prose, every word and phrase here, one feels, has been chosen and crafted for a reason.
Tangherlini's palette is vast, his range of reference catholic (in the sense of aspiring to the universal). Precisely for this reason, the book is accessible on many levels, as a novel of teen-age angst in the cyberage or as a most adult meditation on the "post-modern" world, cyber- and extracyber-.
Unlike most of the labyrinthine virtual realities which many of us live part of our lives in every day, that which Tangherlini builds is not an escape from the world but a window on to it, in all its squalor and splendor.
We leave Leo's i-world more attuned to the one going on around us.