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Yume No Hon: The Book of Dreams Hardcover – September 4, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Apparently set in medieval Japan, Valente's second novel, an allegorical fantasy whose dreamlike threads reach into Shinto and Western myth, mathematics and physics, is more accessible than her poetically surreal debut, The Labyrinth (2004), which centered on the Greek myth of the Minotaur. Now an old woman, Ayako as a child escaped the destruction of her village and found solitary refuge on a nearby mountain. Her only contact with humanity comes, years later, when the village is reinhabited. Believing her to be a ghost, the villagers seek to appease her with annual offerings of rice and tea. The minimal story line follows Ayako as she slowly advances up five levels of a pagoda and discovers a book of dreams. Nothing is certain—Ayako may be a goddess or a dream or a leonine monster—but, by the end, much wisdom has been learned. Those who admire literary craft and rich language will most appreciate this sublime tale. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Yume No Hon, or, in English, The Book of Dreams, is the story of a woman, Ayako, who lives alone on a mountain. Her only visitors are village boys, who bring gifts of tea and think she is a spirit. She doesn't often try to talk to them, for spirits aren't supposed to ask questions. She wanders through dreams and myths, receiving lessons from the mountain and the river, climbing through successive levels of a pagoda as the seasons change, aging through the seasons of many years, and learning from all she observes. Yume No Hon is also about the burning of Troy, the riddles of the Sphinx, the creation of the world, and other dream stories drawn from myths. Ayako is the center of a legend of woman, and her dream people are goddesses of many traditions. Yume No Hon is an internal landscape painted with thoroughly poetic turns of phrase and a slim volume that packs a great deal of punch in its fleetingly short chapters. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
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As a pure literary piece, as prose and imagery, and as simply what it is.
As pure literature, some may be disappointed. Some might believe that there is no "point" to this story. There is no "reason" for it, no technical introduction, climax or any of the myriad of literary structures treasured by conventional wisdom.
As prose and imagery, this is a stunningly and sometimes overwrought piece of literature. Situations and parable leap from this page and overwhelm your senses. As a pure love of writing that gallops on a page rather than runs, or twist and turns your mind, I have never met its match at this point.
Which leads to the 3rd way, to take this book as it is. It will not fit any of the defined categories you may think of offhand, but it is certainly something that will capture you for a time in its pure love of what it writes of.
Read this book for a love of language. Read this book to be immersed in the voice of solitude. Read this book to lose yourself for much too short a time.
To be honest, I read this wonderful book in a few days and promptly reread it immediately after, which is not something I often do. Valente paints with such vibrant language that I could taste the weak tea, the river and the dust. I plan on reading this treasure again, very soon, and will continue to do so whenever I need such a friend.
This book tells the story of a women who has fled a village when it was invaded and chosen to live the life of a hermit on a mountain. She lives in a pagoda, an old temple, on the mountain and learns lessons from the river and the gate. She is very old and at times had trouble separating dream and reality; the villagers of the village below think she is a ghost and bring offerings to her.
The beautiful descriptions and lyrical phrases in this book are outstanding. As always I am blown away by the poetic quality of Valente's writing. She is able to create wonderful imagery of both beautiful and violent things.
This book won't be for everyone; as with her book Labyrinth, the story is vague and at times it is hard to tell what is reality and what is dream...but then that is kind of the point. If you like easy to read stories, with clear-cut plots this isn't the book for you. If you don't mind vagueness and enjoy poetry you will love the lyrical quality and beauty of this book.
The book ties together a number of themes. There is a Japanese overtone to it, Babylonian creation myths are included, and theories of quantum physics are touched on. I know it sounds odd, but for this book it really works. There are also illustrations throughout, which is something new for Valente and I enjoyed those as well.
Overall another outstanding book from Valente. I love the poetry of her written and the way she makes lush descriptions of everything with analogies. The story is vague and dreamy, so it is not for everyone. If you like poetry and if you don't mind vagueness I recommend you pick this up. If you have enjoyed Valente's previous works I also recommend you pick this up.
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