Monday, December 21, 2015

Stories within stories within stories

I first heard about The Encyclopedia of Early Earth from Ana.  It grabbed my attention because it's one of those layered stories, in which people tell each other stories upon stories, and they all eventually ladder back up to the main one in a gloriously onion-like manner.  (Or rose-like manner, depending on your choice of simile.)  It focuses on a boy from the far north who leaves his home in search of himself and comes across many different people.  There are gods and queens and warriors and dogs, and several wonderful stories.

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth is one of those books that truly showcases the power of story-telling.  It uses deceptively simple words to convey beauty and love and heartache.

Also, it's a comic book!  With beautiful illustrations.

I sometimes complain about books I read that just seem to tell the same story that has been told over and over again.  I particularly tire of this in the fantasy genre (seriously, how many prophecies about a Chosen One can there be?), though it's true across all genres.  But a couple of recent reads have made me realize that, actually, I have nothing against authors telling the same stories over and over again, if they tell them well.  Isabel Greenberg tells her story so well that I'm pretty convinced she could tell me her coffee was cold and I'd be utterly enthralled by the second word.

Possibly I'm still raw from reading The Shepherd's Crown and reflecting on all the horrible things that have happened in the world this year, but one of my favorite things about this book was that it was ultimately about using stories to connect, to understand that we all have much in common.  Greenberg does this with such a light touch of humor and such evocative illustrations.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough to anyone who needs a bit of comfort when life is rough.



6 comments:

  1. Have you read In the Night Garden by Catherynne Valente? She uses the same story within a story technique with really beautiful effect.

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    1. I have! At least, I read the first book, I don't think I ever read the second one.

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  2. This one is in my list as well. I didn't know about its story telling technique however. The illustrations are super gorgeous!

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  3. The illustrations look gorgeous! I will have to out ths one on my list :)

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  4. A beautiful review and recommendation. I will tbr this. Thanks

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    1. It made me think of you after our chat about The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Actually, I think we talked about both books at the same time.

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