Friday, September 27, 2013

Crandolin, by Anna Tambour

It's been 17 days since I have posted, according to the calendar.  I have been reading Anna Tambour's Crandolin.  The reviews are quite tantalizing.  Everyone who reads it loves it.  Paul Di Filippo loves it.  It is a highly ambitious, imaginative work, which one would expect from a World Fantasy Award nominee.  Our protagonist, Nick Kippax, foodie extraordinaire and cookbook enthusiast, ingests a drop of a recipe from a rare cookbook.  He finds himself instantiated as the color red in various places--pots of honey, a blemish on a bladder-pipe, a wad of fuzz.  But mostly he is an afterthought, as we follow the adventures of a confectioner, a couple of demi-gods, etc. 

I wanted to like this book.  I like to think of myself as adventurous.  But I am not, really.  I like interesting characters and engaging plots.  At least one would be nice.  It takes a pretty good stretch of the imagination to weave a story of Russian tourist trains, quests for special honey, and the experience of red.  And writer inspiration. 

But the imagination just does not come together into a story.  It's as though all Tambour's energy went into developing these utterly strange characters and putting them in situations.  Not much left for plot.  Nor did we get what I would call deep research.  A few tidbits, but none of the obsessiveness that would tell me there's more here than just brainstorming.  Lots of little morsels to savor, but it's all appetizer, no meal.  There are over a hundred cleverly titled chapters, which makes the book easy to put down.  Too easy.  No real drama here, and only a wisp of resolution.  I give it three stars for style points, and am being generous, I think.

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