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Otherwise: Three Novels Paperback – March 5, 2002
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About the Author
John Crowley lives in the hills of northern Massachusetts with his wife and twin daughters. He is the author of ten previous novels as well as the short fiction collection, Novelties & Souvenirs.
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The Deep is my favorite, but Crowley can really write, so one of the others might be just your thing.
These days, two decades later, I almost never read science fiction, and certainly never read fantasy. But when I saw that "Engine Summer" had been reissued with two other early Crowley novels, I decided to buy it and see if it lived up to my memory of it.
It did. "Engine Summer" is still a thoroughly engaging book. It's pastoral, summery feel makes it ideal to read while sitting in the garden, with your feet up, on a warm, sunny day.
Next I read "Beasts", which I hadn't previously encountered, and which was something of a disappointment - it read as though it was written to fulfill a contractual commitment. Perhaps I'm being unfair, but it was nowhere near the standard of "Engine Summer".
Finally, "The Deep", a short novel I remember looking at twenty years ago but not being motivated to read. This time, however, I did read it and it was almost as good as "Engine Summer", although very different. While "Engine Summer" has a breezy, pastoral feel, "The Deep" has a darker, claustrophic atmosphere. Although a short novel, I often had the sensation that its depth (trying to avoid a pun on its title) exceeded its length. There are many passages of great beauty, and I found it a very compelling story. It is an unusual book, but it is not nearly so weird as some reviewers have suggested. It also hs nothing to do with the English Civil War or the War of the Roses, as some people have suggested, although it does have many echoes of Norse mythology and the Nibelung saga. My only criticism is that the names of the characters (many are variation of "Red" and "Black") are confusing.
Both "Engine Summer" and "The Deep" contained worlds I was sorry to leave behind. If Crowley ever wrote sequels to either, I would eagerly buy both. As it is, this collection of three early novels by Crowley contains two absolute gems, "Engine Summer" and "The Deep" which I would recommend highly to anyone interested in good writing and with a taste for the unusual.
Engine Summer is the real jewel here. These stories chronicle Crowley's evolution as a master stylist and craftsman, and Engine Summer is the moment he arrives.
When you're finished here, you can pick up some Gene Wolfe. They aren't really related . . . except they are.