Days by Moonlight – Andre Alexis

daysbymoonlightA most unusual book!

Two men, one younger and grieving, one older and passionate, are taking a road trip through small Canadian towns in search of information about the elusive poet, John Skennen.

But this sojourn is really through the Underworld, a tangential re-telling of the Orpheus/Eurydice myth . . . perhaps.

Along the way the men visit a town re-creating “Pioneer Days” with callous consequences, a town populated by the descendants of escaped slaves where everyone communicates in sign language, and a town where the religiously devout explore a magical field to talk to god. And there’s also a visit to the Canadian Sex Museum, with uncomfortable results for Alfie. The story gets stranger but more insightful as the men go on their journey. Throughout the trip the two men learn about how they feel about love, poetry, and their life’s purpose.

I liked it, and it gave me food for thought. I was sometimes bewildered but often charmed by the experiences of Alfie and Dr. Bruno. I don’t believe this is a book for a wide audience, but will hit the mark for readers that like a dose of philosophy and introspection with their reading.

Days by Moonlight explores racial inequalities, grief and mourning, and the agony of unrequited love with folktales, mythology, and magical realism. It’s a blend of harsh reality and stunning imagination and there are many surprises and observations that keep you turning the pages.

Many thanks to LibraryThing and Coach House Books for the advance copy.

 

The Binding – Bridget Collins

thebindingIn an alternative reality, there’s a way to get rid of bad memories . . . A binder can take anything you wish to forget out of your mind and bind it in a book, where it’s kept forever.

What a cool concept! I was ready to dive right in! And I was fully immersed ─ until the story ended up not being about binding at all. The idea of binding plays a role in the background, but the main plot is actually a romance.

This book is arranged into three parts:  Emmett Farmer’s apprenticeship to a binder, his backstory with his sister, Alta, and their mutual friend Lucian Darney, and finally the denouement with Lucian’s complicated involvement in the lives of both Alta and Emmett. Parts of the story drag on with little development, and the achronological presentation is somewhat perplexing at times.

At first I was a little miffed and felt misled, but everything comes together and the binding is relevant eventually. Even though I went in expecting a different story, The Binding was still quite entertaining and original, and I enjoyed it.

Many thanks to Goodreads and to William Morrow for the advance copy.