Special Joint Edition of Superb Blurb and 128-Word Recommendation: Winter’s Tale

Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

This is not a light snack (Harry Potter; The Princess Bride). This is not a homemade meal with a twist-ending dessert (Ender’s Game; Hunger Games). This is a Restaurant Week full of tasting menus and omakase (The Lacuna; The Dark Tower). You cannot read this fantastic (in both senses) book in one sitting.  You will not want to.  You must savor each bite, let the flavors roll around on your tongue, and sit back to digest before you take another spoonful of wordsmithing the likes of which you rarely encounter. It’s about a burglar, a soothsayer, a horse, a bridge, a newspaper, malevolent billionaires, a city. It’s about the past, the future, a parallel universe. It’s about love, faith, surrender, loyalty, humor, justice, destruction, and triumph. Five courses:

1. Peter Lake and the horse race through the Bowery:

Peter Lake spurred the horse again, and extended his right arm like a lance, pointing it at the motionless officer. As they went by in a blur of white, he lifted the man’s cap from his head, saying, “Allow me to take your hat.” The enraged policeman pivoted, took out his notebook, and furiously wrote a description of the horse’s buttocks.

2. Isaac Penn and the police exchange frantic telegrams in their search for Beverly:

BEVERLY MISSING STOP JAYGA SAYS ELOPED WITH SEER STOP ADVISE STOP

WHAT QUESTION MARK EXCLAMATION POINT FIND HER STOP CHECK THE ROOF STOP LOOK EVERYWHERE STOP

EVERYONE LOOKING EVERYWHERE STOP CANNOT FIND HER STOP ADVISE STOP

LOOK HARDER STOP

STILL CANNOT FIND BEVERLY STOP

LOOK EVERYWHERE STOP

WHERE IS EVERYWHERE QUESTION MARK STOP

DO YOU WANT SPECIFICS QUESTION MARK STOP

YES STOP

HOSPITALS HOTELS WAREHOUSES RESTAURANTS BAKERIES ROPEWALKS STABLES CARGO VESSELS DAIRY BARNS PRODUCE TERMINALS BREWERIES GREENHOUSES ABATTOIRS BATHS POULTRY MARKETS GOVERNMENT OFFICES RETAIL ESTABLISHMENTS WELDING LOFTS INDUSTRIAL GARAGES GYMNASIUMS FORGES SCHOOLS ART STUDIOS HIRING HALLS DANCE PALACES LIBRARIES THEATERS OYSTER BARS POTTERY BARNS SQUASH COURTS PRINTING HOUSES AUCTION PLACES LABORATORIES TELEPHONE EXCHANGES RAILROAD STATIONS BEAUTY PARLORS MORGUES PIERS ARMORIES COFFEE SHOPS CLUBS KILNS MUSEUMS POLICE STATIONS BICYCLE TRACKS TANNERIES JAILS BARBERSHOPS REHEARSAL ROOMS BANKS BARS CONVENTS MONASTERIES SALAD KITCHENS STEAMSHIP TERMINALS CHURCHES GALLERIES CONFERENCE CENTERS WHOREHOUSES MUSIC SCHOOLS AEROPLANE HANGARS AND OBSERVATION TOWERS STOP DID YOU LOOK IN THE BASEMENT STOP

YES STOP

3. The newspaper The Sun’s rewrite editor is briefly introduced:

Hugh Close, The Sun’s rewrite editor, had the boundless energy of a hound, and was always perched upright, like a Labrador waiting for a stick to be thrown into a cool lake. He had a red mustache, and red hair that was sculpted to his head like clay. He could see puns in everything, and one could not speak to him without suffering an embarrassing disinternment of double entendres. His suits were gray; his shirts had collars with bars; he could read a thousand words a minute upside down and backward (the words, that is, not him); he knew all the Romance languages (including Romanian), Hindi, Chuvash, Japanese, Arabic, Gullah, Turqwatle, and Dutch; he could speak any of these languages in the accent of the other; he generated new words at a mile a minute; was the world’s foremost grammarian and a master of syntax; and he drove everyone mad. But The Sun was unmatched in style and linguistic precision. Words were all he knew; they possessed and overwhelmed him, as if they were a thousand white cats with whom he shared a one-room apartment. (In fact, he did not like cats, because they could not talk and would not listen.)

4. Hardesty travels with Jesse:

“Why don’t you just shut up,” said Hardesty. Jesse didn’t open his mouth until the frame he made to hold his clothes near their fire collapsed, and his purple knickers burned up. From that time forward, he went bare below the waist except for a New Guinea style penis shield that he fashioned from a discarded Dr Pepper can and hung from his waist on a piece of reepschnur. He soon took to extolling this form of dress as if he were a Seventh Avenue designer introducing a new line. ”It’s very comfortable,” he said “You should try it.”

5. Boonya explains to Christiana what her duties in the kitchen may entail (George Martin would love this):

“Good,” said Boonya, as she led Christiana to the kitchen. “But you may not be familiar with the foods that Harry Penn holds dear to his heart. He and his daughter have favorites, which I’ll teach you how to make.”

“Like what?”

“Oh, durbo cheese stuffed with trefoil, camminog, meat of the vibola, roast bandribrolog seeds, satcha oil hotcakes, young Dollit chicken in Sauce Donald, giant broom berries,creme de la berkish tollick, serbine of vellit, pickled teetingle, chocolate wall herrnans trail lemons, Rhinebeck hot pots with fresh armando, parrifoo of aminule, vanilla lens arrows, fertile beaties, archbestial bloodwurst Turkish calendar cake, fried berlac chippings, cocktail of ballroom pig, vellum cream cake, undercurrents, crisp of tough boxer lamb sugared action terries, merry rubint nuts, and rasta blood-chicken with sauce Arnold.”

Hat Tip: Emily E.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s