Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, February 12, 2010

"The City of Dreaming Books" by Walter Morris

The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers (2006, 456 pages, translated from German by John Brownjohn)
The City of Dreaming Books is a fantasy about the adventures of a book loving dinosaur from the land of Zamonian in the city of dreaming books.    The entire city is devoted to selling books.   There are all sorts of creatures that inhabit the city.   The book is presented as if it were translated from Zamonian and is the memoirs of our book loving dinosaur.    A lot of reviewers on  gave this book five stars and said it creates a wonderfully realized alternative universe and shows tremendous powers of imagination.   I try very hard to read through all the books I start.   This is not from any moral or literary imperative it is just that there are no libraries here in Manila so I want to get my value somehow out of a book.   The basic conceit of the book is kind of clever.   Some of the creatures we encounter are clever.   Once and a while an interesting thought provoking observation about the reading life is made by someone.

Reading is an intelligent way of not having to think.

The longer I read on in this book, the less  interested I was in it.   It is imaginative in parts but it is also silly, repetitious, labored, boring and imitative of better books.   I ended up speed reading through the last 150 or pages while watching TV so maybe I did not give the book a fair change.   Like I said lots of people give it five stars but an equal amount give it two stars.   To me it was not funny, it did not get my  attention and once I got beyond the clever concept of the book and encountered the first two or three monsters I was getting quite bored.    I am glad I learned to speed read a very long time ago so I could get this book over with.   My apologies to those who loved the book but I would really say do not buy this book.

The book is meant as a satire of the publishing world, of readers, of book shops, of book collectors and professional literary critics.    Probably if you really mined it you could come up with some deep themes but the same thing could be said about many book not worth our time or money.

I am counting this book for these challenges

Chunkster Challenge
New Authors (new to the reader)
Speculative Fiction
Fantasy Reading
Bibliophilic Books Challenge

Mel u


Suko said...

Thank you for your honesty. I think i will skip this one.

Jeane said...

Hm. Sounds like an interesting premise. Too bad it didn't work out.

Neelie said...

Good review! Sometimes it's hard not to be nice, especially for people who love reading and books, but I too appreciate your honesty.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Initially this sounded pretty good, but sorry you were disappointed!

Mel u said...

Suko-I would be surprised if you liked it

Jeane-yes the idea was interesting

Eileen-yes I agree-if the the 75 or so books I have blogged on I have only been really negative on two of them

Diane-yes it did sound good initially and I guess that is why I bought it

Anonymous said...

Hi Mel,
sorry you didn't like it. Better luck on the next book?

But I do agree "Reading is an intelligent way of not having to think."

I started reading one book after another because I was worried about something.. therefore I stuck this on my home page:

Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

Mel u said...

JoV-yes I pondered your quote-of course the quote from Einstein is not about not reading it is about passive reading

soleil said...

I'm sorry you didn't like this book, especially as it was so long.
I am not sure I agree with the quotation about reading being a way of not thinking. Perhaps some of the time, but I think reading engages the imagination, can be inspiring, which spurs thoughts and ideas. And then there are books that provoke deep thought, give insight or a different perspective, which also spurs thought and discussion.

ds said...

Wow. The title and premise made this sound so interesting. But thanks to your review, I think I'll pass. Too bad. Glad you are so honest, Mel!

Mel u said...

Jehara-nothing in the book can be taken seriously and I agree completely with what you say

ds-yes it was a very clever premise-so far of the 85 or so books I have reviewed I have only been negative on 3 of them-this one included