Awhile back Jeff VanderMeer was good enough to send me City of Saints and Madmen in eBook form. I immediately got hooked on his writing with Veniss Underground, but City of Saints and Madmen hooked me all over again. The book is a collection stories and historical guides that center around the city of Ambergris, a city of religious fervor and political corruption. It’s home to eccentric artists and strange creatures. It’s a city that brims with life, and so much death. None of the stories are tied together in a linear fashion, the first story doesn’t flow into the second. I think each piece of writing easily stands alone, but as a whole they create a fully realized world.
Jeff’s use of his craft is absolutely amazing. His words form sentences that create life. I feel like I’ve spent a month in Ambergris, walking its cobblestones, barricading the door to my hostel, praying to avoid the chaos and death that shrouds the Festival of the Freshwater Squid. So few have the skill to write bizarre twisted worlds and make them so real, with such vivid characters. He sees the power of the written word and completely knows how to wield it.
One story, The Strange Case of X, is about an author locked in a mental hospital who thinks he’s in our world, writing Ambergris into existence. It’s a brilliant examination of what it is to be a writer, to be utterly devoted to something so solitary. It’s definitely one of my favorites.
City of Saints and Madmen is completely unique and astonishingly written. I totally recommend it.No comments
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