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Tag: allegory

Purple Jesus by Ron Cooper

Regular readers will recall that I am a bit of a sucker for quirky novels that deal with faith or religion in some way.

So when I heard about Purple Jesus I was intrigued by the promise from the publishers blurb:

As funny as it is sad, as beautiful as it is ugly, as authentic as it is shocking, and as powerful as anything you ll ever read, Ron Cooper s Purple Jesus is a murder mystery, a love story, a religious allegory and, most importantly, a dark and comic descent into the lives and world views of three unbelievable and unforgettable characters.

So did it deliver? Sort of.  I will confess that any religious allegory or philosophical insight went right over my head (I admit I am not one to catch symbolism and the like). And it wasn’t really much of a love story.

What really sets the book apart is the “a dark and comic descent into the lives and world views” aspect. The capture of a time, place and culture rescues the book in my opinion.

Between Two Kingdoms by Joe Boyd

Allegory – or even symbolism for that matter – is a tricky thing. Too obvious and people ask why fiction? Not clear enough and you risk confusion and readers missing the point. I wrestled with this fine line as I was reading Between Two Kingdoms by Joe Boyd.

Here is the synopsis from the publisher:

There is a land of two kingdoms, but only one true King. A living land, where foundations grow in trees and rivers sing and breathe. A dying land, where the darkness of a false prince threatens to swallow everything in its shadow.

Enter Between Two Kingdoms with Tommy, an eternally seven-year-old child of the Great King, as he and his friends accept the challenge of the Good Prince to live as grown men and women in the Lower Kingdom—where hope is hidden, vision is clouded, and pride twists truth into a beautiful yet deadly deception.

As the synopsis eludes to above, the basic story line follows Tommy as he accepts a mission into the lower kingdom. Setting out he knows very little about what lies ahead. Once there, however, it is revealed that the assignment involves stopping a plot to cover the entire lower kingdom in darkness and smoke in order to control and enslave the frightened  population. Tommy and his friends must protect as many people as they can and then find a way to destroy the machine that is creating the smog like smoke that begins to cover the kingdom.

You can get an idea of what the author was trying to portray and flush out in this short video.

To me the book felt either too simple or incomplete. It had the feel of a story you might write to experiment with ideas and symbols (and characters) – a sort of thought experiment in the form of a novella. And in this way it had some interesting aspects.

But as a work of literature taken as a whole it fell flat for me.

Between Two Kingdoms author Joe Boyd

Well, since we are doing videos I thought I would post Between Two Kingdoms author Joe Boyd talking about his career path and how he came to write this book of allegorical fantasy fiction.  Look for my review of the book soon.

The Little General and the Giant Snowflake by Matthea Harvey

Little GeneralI have been reading a lot of young adult fiction of late and have also found myself interested in children’s stories; new and old, classic and experimental, picture books and longer stories.  (Having small children will  do that to you I guess.)

So when I heard about The Little General and the Giant Snowflake I was intrigued.  Here is the publisher‘s blurb:

The Little General and the Giant Snowflake is a beautifully illustrated allegory by a leading poet, perfect for children and adults alike. The little general heads an army called the Realists, and every day he and his troops practice battle formations on a field, while the Dreamers use it to play strange, peaceful games. His soldiers include Sergeant Samantha, wishes the general would pay attention to her, and Lieutenant Lyle, who always seems to get into trouble. One day the little general sees a giant snowflake hovering in his garden. Ashamed, he pretends not to see it, but eventually he discovers that everyone in his army has a similar problem. What magical message is the snowflake trying to bring to the general, and to the world?

It turned out to be a sort of mix between an idealistic – almost naive – allegory and an absurdest story.

You have the appropriately named Little General who has suppressed his imagination and the rather tall Sergeant Samantha who has a crush on him.  And there is Lieutenant Lyle who likes to sing silly songs but is not very good at military marches.

The General leads the realist army while the idealists play make believe with imaginary animals nearby.  There is no real war or battle just two camps side by side.  The Realists do practive various marches under the general’s guidance but they have never actually engaged the enemy.

But this regimen is interrupted when the general encounters a large snowflake and starts dreaming about lemmings.

Spoiler Alert!

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