Charles De Lint

Discussion in 'Fantasy / Horror' started by Beleg, Aug 16, 2006.

  1. Beleg

    Beleg Registered User

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    He is a favourite of many here. Rather surprisingly, there hasn't been an active thread about him for more then two years.

    Anyway, do you people think his Newford novels are better in quality then the rest? Which is your favourite Newford book? Your favourite Newford character?
    What are your thoughts about his newest novel, Widdershins?
     
  2. JBI

    JBI Lord of Chaos

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    I've only read one book by him, Memory and Dream, it sayed it was a standalone so I don't know if I should've read anything before it, I found it mediocure. I hear he has written some good ones, but I havn't picked up anything of his since.

    Memory and Dream was about a woman who paints pictures and they come to life, and about her abusive art teacher who taught her how to paint them.
     
  3. KatG

    KatG Fulgurous Staff Member

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    de Lint is well-liked, but authors who do primarily contemporary fantasy seem to have a harder time holding the forum's attention, at least until recently.

    None of the Newford books, of which "Memory and Dreams" is one, are ever technically exactly standalones. They use recurring characters, themes, and the milieu, with frequently a fair number of cross-references and cameo appearances. That said, a healthy amount of them you can read without having read others. (However, I wish de Lint would clean up his website and map out the plots and characters in relation to one another on it -- it would make things a lot easier, especially as he's been doing them for like thirty years.)

    de Lint's style is sort of dreamy, lots of imagery, but contemporary. We've been throwing around the term "lyrical violence" and for some of his work, that term would fit. But while he may explore similar subject matter and reuse characters, building on his own mythology, his books tend to be different types from one another. One might be a mystery or straight out action thriller, another mostly a romance (which is what I'd probably call "Memory and Dreams,") or a psychological drama or a comic adventure. Occasionally he drifts toward horror and dark fantasy. So if you don't like the plot or focus of one book, you might like another. de Lint is very much interested in the intersection of legend with art and music, so if that's not a topic of interest, don't go with the books about the artists and musicians maybe.

    One of my favorites is "Moonheart," the first one of his I read. It's sort of a, well epic saga, is maybe what you'd call it. "Memory and Dreams" I mostly liked but thought the ending didn't quite work (and cross references may have had something to do with that.) I have not read "Widdershins" but check out the plot description -- and perhaps put it up here -- and that may give you a clue as to whether it's more to your taste.
     
  4. Rob B

    Rob B \m/ BEER \m/ Staff Member

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    I've read two deLint novels and enjoyed both: Memory and Dream and The Little Country.

    I absolutely LOVED The Little Country, a beautiful story-within-a-story about Faery and the real world. At times reminiscent of Neil Gaiman, others of Lord Dunsany.
     
  5. Leiali

    Leiali Registered User

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    Hey Beleg, I just finished reading Widdershins and wrote about it in the Reading in August thread. It was good, but I was disappointed at how long it took De Lint to wrap things up. I also picked up a book of three short stories by him, about different era's in Newford, that was good but very short.
    Moonheart was my first book by him, but my favourite is probably Some place to be flying. And then Trader, then the Onion Girl. Jilly Coppercorn was always my favourite character, what's not to love about her? I have all his novels I think, but not all his short stories, and have been reading them for years. Gotta disagree with Rob B on his being reminiscent of Gaiman, as I would say Gaiman was reminiscent of De Lint :)

    I've been considering exploring other writers with similar themes with very little success. Widdershins' blurb suggests Alice Hoffman, Jonathan Crowley and one other that momentarily escapes me. The feed back here on SFFworld about Little Big put me off it, I've read Alice Hoffman's Practical Magic and it was good but not quite what I was looking for. So any recommendations for De Lint type writers would be welcome from me.

    What I love about his books is that it feels as though Newford is a real community, and the problems people have are pretty ordinary, every day ones. But he lifts them up and puts them in such an extraordinary adventure they have to rise to the occasion, or not depending upon their character. And the majority of his protagonists are female, I think it is a real skill writing from one genders perspective if you belong to another.

    I can see some people not responding too well to how much of a hippy he obviously is, and just about everyone in Newport is a bohemian sort; and the fact that there is usually some kind of happily ever after, sort of.

    Has anyone read any of his horror books? I've only read one or two and they contrast with the Newford/Fantasy stuff quite spectacularly!
     
  6. Beleg

    Beleg Registered User

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    Hey Leiali, thanks for the Widdershins review. :)

    Regarding De Lint-lite authors, I'll recommend checking out this great link.

    You can read some of the short stories by a few authors mentioned in the list on the same site to get an idea of whether you'll like them or not. Personally, I really like Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Terri Windling and Midori Snyder. Grath Nix's Sabriel also reminded me a bit of De Lint's writing. The Borderland shared universe (created by Windling) has a lot in common with Newford - the bohemian lifestyle, blending of mythical/fantastic elements with mundane everyday events in a very urban setting.

    Can't say I have read his horror books but I did read one of his 'sword and sorcery' novella - it was terrible compared to his urban fantasies.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2006
  7. Miriamele

    Miriamele Witch of the Woods

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    I've only read one book by De Lint, Ivory and the Horn. It's a collection of 15 short stories set in the town of Newford. All the stories are quite different in mood--some are more like horror, some are more "normal," and some probe dreamscapes which are downright trippy. But they are all a bit mystical and strange in some way.

    I remember in particular one of the more "normal" stories, where a chubby woman becomes anorexic after one of her coworkers teases her about her weight. She starts eating only lettuce and plain popcorn and eventually has to move to an isolated motel to continue her extreme diet, because everyone she knows is telling her to stop. Then she finds an overgrown wishing well in back of the motel...the wishing well is very important to the story but I can't remember how.

    Anyway, I didn't like the collection of stories all that much, probably because I hadn't read any of his novels and was unfamiliar with this town and the people in it. It didn't make me want to read any of his other books though. I have to be honest, I found his writing style painfully dull and slow moving.
     
  8. KatG

    KatG Fulgurous Staff Member

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    If you like de Lint, L, then you probably would like Crowley's "Little, Big." Also possibly Mark Helprin's "A Winter's Tale." Those two are a little more formal in style than de Lint, perhaps, but have the same mystic quality and "Little, Big" is very hippie. :) You might also like Tim Power's "Expiration Date."

    James Blaylock writes very differently in style from de Lint, but there is the ordinary people facing weird situations set-up in many of his works, and so you might like some of them. Alice Hoffman doesn't always write fantasy, and can be sort of dour, I suppose; I haven't read a lot of her prodigious output yet. I think Terri Windling, as mentioned, might do as well. She is, I think, a pal of de Lint's and an expert on folklore.
     
  9. Leiali

    Leiali Registered User

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    Hm...Will do some investigating then, thanks KatG and Beleg: I might give Little, Big a go first.
     
  10. AJ_

    AJ_ New Member

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    I've read a few of his books...The Little Country, The Onion Girl, Tapping the Dream Tree. I know there's a couple more too, but I can't think of their titles. I've enjoyed reading all of them and I especially like the way he adds spiritual elements to his stories.

    I also have Moonheart on my TBR pile.
     
  11. KatG

    KatG Fulgurous Staff Member

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    Well I wouldn't mind hearing more about "The Onion Girl" from those who've read it. It's suppose to be a good one.
     
  12. kcf

    kcf Nobody in Particular

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    I've read The Little Country, The Riddle of the Wren, and Forests of the Heart by de Lint, and I enjoyed them all, though I consider Forests of the Heart to be the best of those - it's also the only Newford tale of the lot. I've got several of his books waiting to be read on The Stack, and really should get to another soon. For any curious, I wrote full reviews of The Little Country and The Riddle of the Wren at my blog.
     
  13. AJ_

    AJ_ New Member

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    I recently read Moonheart. I thought it was ok. The Onion Girl and The Little Country are still my favorites. I now have Spirits in the Wires and Yarrow on my TBR pile.
     
  14. Mithfânion

    Mithfânion Lord of the Wild Hunt

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    Leiali:

    You could try Robert Holdstock or Patricia McKillip, they certainly come first to mind.
     
  15. Mithfânion

    Mithfânion Lord of the Wild Hunt

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    Speaking of De Lint I am currently going back and forth between:

    Widdershins
    Forests of the Heart
    Yarrow
    Greenmantle
    The Little Country

    I think Widdershins stands a cery good chance of making it. What I want is a story featuring characters from Celtic Myth, and a de Lint story which at least mixes the gender of the main characters somewhat, instead of some of his storiies which just feature all-female casts.
     
  16. Gildor

    Gildor Gentlemen!!!

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    I was gallavanting through Waterstones the other day and came across a display promoting the works of De Lint. I've never read anything by him before, though the style and Urban content interested me, i'm going in the direction of Forests of the Heart or maybe Wild Wood, or Moonheart, i'm not sure where would be the best to start, to a great exent i've read and liked works that others in this thread have considerd similair, i.e. Holdstock, Mckillip, Gaiman, Dunsany.

    So which of the above books should I order, considering i've never read anything of his before, or maybe non of them, and something else entirely? Any more opinions of his books, his style, maybe something on his recent books, like the Blue Girl.
     
  17. Leiali

    Leiali Registered User

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    Why, Mith, does that not surprise me in the least? Try Trader. I worried that De Lint couldn't tell a story from a male perspective until I picked Trader up and it really is very good. Otherwise I would choose The Little Country if going for Celtic Mythology - it is his only UK based story (I think). I haven't got round to looking at other similar authors yet, too many books not enough time!

    And Gildor, I started with Moonheart, which was great, but you can pretty much start from anywhere you like with De Lint, he enmeshes so many lives into his tales with crossovers in Newford. It is worth choosing a book and then following the stories around from there. For example, if you like a short story with a particular character, chances are they have a major part to play in another book. Bit confusing but also pretty good fun.
    Good places to start would be:

    Any short story collection
    Moonheart
    Some Place to be Flying

    Books to avoid until you have read a few

    The Onion Girl (Jilly Coppercorn rules)
    Spirit Walk (follows on from Moonheart)
    Memory and Dream (which is just heartbreaking and you have to build yourself up to it imo)

    Hope that all helps. Kudos to the display organiser at Manchester Waterstones, which a friend of mine raved about when she lived there a few years ago as having a great sf/fantasy section.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2007
  18. Gildor

    Gildor Gentlemen!!!

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    Great, thank you. I was leaning more towards Moonheart.

    Yes, the Waterstones does have a very nice SF/F section, I think the displays and tables of books really make it stand out, lots of offers and the often juicy and exotic imports to glean through. I don't buy from there too much as Amazon often wins out, but I cant help myself on occasion.
     
  19. KatG

    KatG Fulgurous Staff Member

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    I'd recommend Moonheart to start as well. It's one of the older ones and you can follow it without having to know who a lot of the regular characters who pop up in his city stories are. It's the first one of his I read, as well.

    I have been very frustrated with De Lint's website, because what I would like from it is sort of a chart or character glossary which lists regular characters, because they pop up in a book and I think I know that one, but can't remember. But the good thing is, you don't really have to remember. Each story, with a few exceptions is pretty much self-contained, and they are similar in feel on the setting, but very different in the tone of the different stories.

    There are lots of guy characters in De Lint's books, though he does like female protagonists, so I don't know what Mith is going on about. :)
     
  20. avoidant

    avoidant Registered User

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    The only de Lint I've read is Moonheart. I didn't really care for it finding the writing flat. Since it's one of his earliest books I expect I'll eventually get around to reading something else of his to see if his style has changed.