Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Book of Flying by Keith Miller

Our hero, Pico, is a poet and librarian, and forbidden to pursue the girl of his dreams, for she has wings and Pico does not. When he discovers an ancient letter in his library telling of the mythical Morning Town where the flightless may gain their wings, he sets off on a quest. It's a magical journey in which he meets a robber queen, a lonely minotaur, a cannibal, an immortal beauty, and a dream seller. Each has a story, and a lesson, for Pico-about learning to love, to persevere, and, of course, to fly.
Today is a buddy review with Amanda from The Zen Leaf. I have the first part of the review, and then you just have to go over to her blog for the second half. Enjoy!

Kelly: When you emailed me the other day to see if I was still going to be reviewing this book with you; I almost said no. I have tried to read it a couple times over the last couple years, so I only really agreed to read it because Ana (Nymeth) suggested it and I owned it. I had heard really good things about it, but for whatever reason was never able to get into it. Instead of answering you, I went and picked up the book to give it one more try. I am so glad that I did! I think you said you liked it, too, so it should be fun to review the book both enjoying it. Other than the potential buddy review, what lead you to this book? I give credit to Carl, who said great things about it, but I know that Chris read it somewhere in there, too. Since my initial reaction to the book changed a few times, I am curious to know what were your first impressions of the book?

Amanda: First, for the record, I did enjoy the book! It was actually very different from what I expected. I first heard about the book back when Chris did his readathon vlog back in October. It looked like such a neat book, and when I saw it at Half Price Books not long after, I grabbed it up. I decided to read it now because it seemed perfect for Once Upon a Time. I didn't really have any idea what the book was about, though. I had vague notions of a fantastical journey, but didn't realize it took place in a different world altogether. I thought it was illustrated all throughout, and not just on the chapter headings. At first, I wasn't sure about the prose - very long and rambly sentences - but quickly I got into the rhythm and I very much enjoyed the book. I know you don't want me to say it, but it reminded me of a fantastical version of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (which I didn't hate like everyone else seems to). Epic journey, learning about yourself along the way, episodic stories...but I won't harp on it. I promise. :D Why do you think you enjoyed it more on this third attempt than you did before?

Kelly: Yeah, I hated The Alchemist. When you told me it reminded you off it, I tried to remove that thought from my head. That being said, I can see what you mean. I probably wouldn't have made the connection myself, because I try to forget that book exists, but I could see where you would get it from. That being said, it didn't destroy the book for me that it reminded me of that book, so that's always good! I am glad I am not the only one that had a few issues in the beginning with the prose. I actually think it might have been that which made it so hard for me to get interested in the book previously. It's a weird writing style. I'd love to have a magic answer for why this book worked for me this time, but I honestly don't know what it is. I am not sure if my mood changed, I felt bad because your buddy review partners were abandoning you, or was just determined to get through it this time. For whatever reason this time everything just clicked. I got used to the writing style, loved the references to books, and enjoyed the journey of this rather anti-social librarian going out and having magical adventures. What was your favourite part of the book?

Amanda: My favorite part...hmm...I guess I really liked the trio between Pico, the robber queen, and the minotaur. It was a very interesting dynamic and despite the monstrosity of many of the characters, I liked that we got to know them for who they really are rather than their evil reputations. I guess the whole book was like that. In some ways, it was an epic journey or quest towards a goal, but at the same time towards finding a Self. I liked that every character had their own story and was on their own journey. Each person that Pico met shared part of his path with him, and each went on their own way, to find their own Self and their own goal. Epic journeys are so often solitary, and in some ways this was set up the same, but I got the feel that there was no real solitude. Like when Narya tells Pico that he abandoned his story, so she's going to take it and make it her own. She obviously doesn't - she makes her own story instead - but it shows how interconnected our lives are. Whose story most intrigued you?

To read the rest of the review head over to Amanda's blog.


  1. Thanks for sharing useful information and your blog is very nice and layout is just superb.
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  2. Hey Kelly! Thanks again for reviewing with me. My post is up if you'd like to link to it. I liked back to yours. :)

  3. Thank you for sharing this lovely pot. The comment about wings made me think of "Nights at the circus" by Angela Carter - another great book.

    Happy THursday evening


  4. Heh. I love this "I try to forget that book exists". I do as well! This book sounds really interesting, and I love the buddy review format!

  5. Ooh, I don't think I've ever heard of this book! Great job on the joint review.

    I think you will have to pick a different book than Middlesex for me to read because I can't find it. But I hope you read Edgerton soon, mostly because I want the books back by the time I leave for school in August ;-)

  6. Interesting review you two! Not entirely sure I'll specifically search this book out, but if I ever come across it, I'll probably check it out.

  7. " reminded me of a fantastical version of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho "

    You know, I thought this too, but I didn't say it out loud lest Chris hit me on the head with a frying pan :o This was part of what scared me away, but I WILL try again.

  8. Given that this is a joint review, I'm going to post this same comment to both of your sites.

    I'm so happy that both of you decided to read this book together and that you both enjoyed it. I received it as a gift a few years ago and one nice day, on a whim, I grabbed it and headed outdoors to sit on the deck. What transpired was a straight read through. Once I got into it I just couldn't put it down.

    The book is far from perfect and is one I have a hard time recommending for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the adult nature of some of the stories, but also because of the emotional gut-punch of some of what happens. Not everyone wants to read stories like that.

    I felt like Miller did a great job of introducing Pico, and thus the reader, to a wide variety of characters who were all interesting in their own way, many of whom I made a deep emotional connection with despite their relatively brief time in the story.

    I was heartbroken at times with the choices Pico and other characters had to make yet I also couldn't help but be jealous of the journey that he went on. He truly had an adventure.

    While its been long enough that the ending isn't strong in my mind, I do remember feeling about it the way that you both describe. Unlike several other books I've read since that were amazing and then derailed by the bad ending, this one at least didn't leave me feeling that way. It wasn't the way I wanted the book to end, but it wasn't devastating either.

    Only a handful of books have made the kind of impact on me that this one made. I repeatedly find myself drawn back to my feelings about it, memories of certain parts of it, etc. Miller captured something here, that's for sure.

    Great joint review/conversation about the book. You've made me anxious to read it again.

  9. wow...looks like a very good read...flying has really been one of my favorite fantasies

  10. I was looking for that type of informative post and i appreciate your blog because of unique content so i am very much thankful to you for sharing such a great information.
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