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Light Boxes: A Novel Paperback – May 25, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Jones's brief and bewildering war fable pursues the plight of a town battling to free itself from the brutal hold of the month of February (also sometimes a person or a force or merely a metaphor), a meanie that has not allowed its wintry grip to lift for hundreds of days. When the despairing townspeople, led by valiant Thaddeus Lowe and his wife and daughter, suffer reprisals from February and the priests for trying to break the weather, a group of former balloonists don bird masks and, calling themselves the Solution, instigate a rebellion. Thaddeus's daughter, Bianca, is kidnapped, along with other children, leading Thaddeus to plot ways to deceive February: townspeople walk around pretending it's summer and secure light boxes around their heads to simulate the sun. February, meanwhile, may simply be feeling unloved by his wife, the girl who smells of honey and smoke and who seems eerily like Bianca. It's a quaint and bizarre allegory that explores the perils of equivocation, but it's likely more pleased with its own cleverness than readers will be. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Originally issued in a limited edition of fewer than 1,000 copies, this unique novel of seasonal affective disorder come to life is now being published by a major house. In spare prose that could almost be considered poetry, Jones tells the story of a town ravaged by endless winter. Well, nearly endless—it’s been February for several hundred days straight. But February isn’t only a relentless month; it’s also the malevolent being holding the town under its sway. Wracked by depression and spurred on when children start to go missing, the townsfolk mount a war against February, who also turns out, well, sort of, to be the author of the story, struggling to romance the “girl who smells of honey and smoke.” Jones’ imagery and layers of metaphor and metafiction are alternately difficult to penetrate and light as air, like wandering in and out of a fever dream where the moment things come into focus they dissipate again. In that vein, this literary gem of metaphysical malaise has that ideally weird blend of offputting sensualism and heartfelt emotion—just the sort of thing to ensure a dedicated, if limited, following. --Ian Chipman
Top customer reviews
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The cold and dark month of February doesn’t like things that fly. So to punish the residents who fly kites and hot air balloons, February has banned flight of every kind and has catapulted the town with snow and ice and cold and dark, into a forever winter. During February’s long stay, children go missing, and depression filters into the crevices whilst the town begins to ban together to ward-off the nightmare of unending winter.
“Bianca whispers into the bathwater.
Maybe the priests aren’t really priests. Look at the way their silly robes move.
I want to be safe. I want to live inside a turtle shell.” page 20
Thaddeus, Bianca, Selah, Caldor.
The girl who smelled of honey and smoke.
War Effort members.
The Solution – who wear bird masks and black top hats.
And of course,
a godlike spirit named February.
“Then the stench of burning leaves, and the bulbs bloomed crystal white across his face. The War Effort cheered. Some ran out into the snow-filled plains to mock the sky. Others took turns fitting the box over their heads, letting the light soak into their winter beards. Their tongues tasting the blood from their splitting lips.” page 43
I found myself being thrown into a psychological war of words, having to seek comfort in what I perceived to be the thread of the matter. This book is not for everyone. You will actually have to think in order to deduce your odds of like-ability.
This is one of my favorite bits. It’s spoken to the reader by a child narrator,
“You’re one of the good ones. You are kind and compassionate and filled with happiness. You walk through the season of February without a care in the world, maybe a shiver, only a passing complaint about the grayness of the sky that will soon give way to the flowers you planted around the mailbox.”
His style is succint and the story is brought to life in a way that found me watching it as a movie in my head (I'm sure a movie adaptation isn't too far-fetched). I loved the stylistic changes in font, pitch and spacing. Tricks like that usually only frustrate me as they come off as if the author was trying way too hard, but, in Shane Jones's case, it added to the storytelling aspect of the novel. It hasn't been done this well since EE Cummings.
I've already reccommended this book to a bunch of my friends. My copy is currently making the rounds to everyone, but the next person in line might have to buy their own copy (Six bucks? That's a steal) because I think it's time for another read...
I'd describe this book as more art than a traditional story.
Most recent customer reviews
•this book got me through some rough winters and funky moods
•great metaphors throughout about mint leaves, kites, etc <--when fighting February/the funk...Read more
My friend Mike (musician Mike, not writer Mike that I mentioned in my last post) recommended this book to me several weeks ago.Read more