by Keith Miller
This gently moving story speaks in poetic language, each chapter a quiet vignette of its own. Set in an entirely imagined land, a world inhabited by fantastic beasts as well as men, where half the people have wings and can fly. The winged people and the earthbound don't really mix. Pico, lonely poet and librarian in his little town, was born wingless, but he loves a girl who has them. So he sets off on a journey to a fabled city where supposedly there's a book that can teach him to gain wings and fly.
I had high hopes for The Book of Flying. The dreamlike setting and events, the beautiful language. The wandering poet who must travel the world. It feels like one long, elaborate parable. But two things failed me. I was unable to feel anything for Pico. He seemed such a gentle, almost innocent person I really wanted to like him. Yet although chasing a dream for the love of a girl evidences some passion, his actions appeared so passive; besides a token vocal protest, he never resisted (at least as far as I got) when others forced him to do things against his character. After fifty pages I just didn't care enough about him to continue. And the sensual parts of the story bothered me (again, because of how Pico responds to them). Yet the setting and events are so imaginative the pages still tug my curiosity, so I'm setting this one aside, perhaps to return to later. Maybe I just wasn't in right mindset for it.
I first heard of this book on Chris' fantastic blog, Stuff As Dreams Are Made On. It's in such short supply I feel lucky to have acquired a copy from Paperback Swap, so I'm not going to let go of mine soon, even though it failed to enthrall me on the first reading attempt.
Abandoned ..0/5... 272 pages, 2004