I Can Read: The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters

Skip the pastiche. Read Wilkie CollinsMy weary eyes had barely scanned the final word (“home”) of the 760th and final page of The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters (2006), Gordon Dahlquist’s pastiche of Wilkie Collins’s Victorian potboilers, when my hands with their pale tapering fingers upon which glittered strange bejeweled rings of Oriental design — hands weakened by countless hours of nocturnal page-turning — loosed their grip on the volume and let it slide noiselessly onto the deep piled Persian carpet not far from the the jacquard ottoman supporting the slippered feet at the ends of the pyjama-clad limbs extending beyond the golden trim of the silk brocade smoking jacket wrapped about my mesmerized form upon the wingchair set before the hearth in which a fire, once ablaze like the Gate of Hell itself, was now reduced to desultorily flaring cinders.

In my enfeebled state I shambled to the mahogany secretary to indite an appraisal of young Mr. Dahlquist’s breathless novel, but I had barely begun to write, “The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters is a ‘steam-punk’ mystery-adventure in the tradition of Conan Doyle and Henry Miller which had come to my attention while reading an amusing interview with one of my favorite novelists, Neal Stephenson,” when I recoiled (having previously been coiled) in horror at my imprudence. Was I really about to give away my precious opinions for free?

I shook my head vigorously to dispel the Dahlquist induced hypnotic trance which had almost allowed so foolish a dispensing of the treasures of my mind. Now I would not be so crass as to imply that giving Nice Work’s beloved readers my intellectual riches without recompense was the equivalent of “casting pearls before swine.” No. But would it not have been the inverse: Giving ham sandwiches to oysters?

And so I pressed my lips tightly shut, the pointed waxed ends of my mustache barely twitching with my surpressed emotion, and clenched shut these prodigal hands with their pale tapering fingers (upon which glittered strange bejeweled rings of Oriental design) before they could scatter my mental hoard to the undeserving masses. The worthy few — you know who you are — shall learn my opinion of the story of an unlikely alliance of a feisty young Victorian heiress, a love-sick German surgeon, and half-blind killer-for-hire as they quite gorily oppose an evil cabal of decandent aristocrats who seek world domination by means of their obscene mind-stealing magic books. Yes, you shall learn it, but only after you fork over one million golden pazoozas!

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, Volume One By Gordon Dahlquist
(Bantam, Paperback, 464pp.)

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, Volume Two By Gordon Dahlquist
(Bantam, Paperback, 432pp.)


2 responses to “I Can Read: The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters

  1. I read that interview with Monsieur Stephenson; I want to read his books, but I’m sort of afraid. I get excited when he talks about clocks that run ten thousand years, but then he goes on about encoding math into music, and my eyes glaze over and all my teeth fall out. And then he’s on Plato, and I’m sitting up eagerly again – and then he returns to numbers and my brain starts singing “Super Trooper” by ABBA over and over again. And I don’t even like that song.

  2. Don’t worry. Stephenson is a novelist, not a mathematician. Such math as there is — and it’s not a lot — is there as part of the background. Stephenson knows exactly how much to put in to set the scene. Pretend it’s like the family names in Dostoevsky — just sort of glide by the stuff and get on with the story.

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