moonandserpent? ombriel? This one’s for you.

It’s rare that I look at a book and think, I know who needs to read that. A generalized, “oh, so-and-so might like this,” sure — but not the sort of surety where I would drag people into the store and push the book into their hands if only they weren’t two-thirds of the way across the country from me.

The book in question is Catherynne Valente’s Palimpsest, out as of today, and I’ve been waiting for the chance to plug it (since plugging seems mean when a book is not yet available). What’s it about? Well, it has an attention-getting tag line: it’s about a sexually transmitted city. Yes, you heard me right. But you know, I’ll be honest with you; when I first heard that, aside from thinking “holy jeebus do moonandserpent and ombriel need to read that, not to mention some other friends of ours” that concept didn’t really hook me. I am ambivalent about a lot of the New Weird grotesquerie — it just isn’t my cup of tea — and Palimpsest sounded a lot like that.

What won me over was hearing Cat Valente read from it at Vericon last month. The thing I can be a sucker for in the New Weird, if the grotesquerie doesn’t put me off, is awesome worldbuilding, full of fantastic weirdnesses that are not the same stale ideas you’ve read again and again. The passage she read, about a school for the upper-class children of the city of Palimpsest, hit a bullseye on my cool-worldbuilding target. Plus it did so with lovely language that wasn’t obtrusive in its loveliness; it had sufficient clarity that I could follow it aurally without any trouble at all. And that’s something I care about, too.

Anyway, Cat’s done some awesome promotional stuff for this book, the kind of promotion I wish I had the wit, energy, and social network to do — S.J. Tucker (sooj) recorded an album of music inspired by it, there’s tie-in art and a Palimpsest corset and chocolate and perfume and all kinds of awesomeness. You can find out about that stuff here, and let me see if I can embed the book trailer:

Continuing the theme of this post, I rarely like book trailers, but that’s among the best I’ve seen — thanks to good music and no cheesy-sounding voiceover, mostly.

(Also? I didn’t realize, a couple of months ago, when I came across the Tabula Rasa website via kniedzw‘s computer, that it was actually a piece of marketing for Palimpsest. But when your city is a tattoo passed from person to person, it totally makes sense . . . .)

My ability to witter on about the book more or less ends there, since I haven’t read it yet. But I have the car today, and various errands to lure me out of the house, so there may be a stop at the bookstore — and then I’ll have to bait myself through the remainder of this story I’m writing by promising I get to read when I’m done. It will make a lovely change of pace.

0 Responses to “moonandserpent? ombriel? This one’s for you.”

  1. moonandserpent

    You are the third person today to recommend it to me, personally.

    • Marie Brennan

      <snarfl> This is what I get for waking up late, eh?

      Well, when Warren Ellis’ blurb is the first one up, it naturally makes people think of you.

      • moonandserpent


        It looks neat. It has been added to my amazon wish list in the hopes that someday I escape my devastating poverty.

        • danimagus

          I’ve requested it through IU’s Interlibrary Loan for the same reason — if I do manage to get it, I’ll make sure I pass it on to you, eh? (I’ll also be keeping watch on the public library’s website…)

  2. amysisson

    I too have been seeing posts about this book all over the web today, and I admit that I’m intrigued.

    Is it related to her other two books? I don’t think so, but I don’t want to get halfway in and find out I’ve missed something really important.

    • Marie Brennan

      Cat’s done a good job getting word of mouth out. All kinds of promotion, really; I’m so envious of her stuff.

      So far as I know, there’s no relation to her other books.

  3. azorielios

    I was laready interested with your recommendation and description, but good ol’ Warren was the clicher. I’ll have to go and scout this thing out.

    Still haven’t found a place nearby that has those Dorothy Dunnett books you suggested, so before long I’m going to hit the web (assuming I remember – couldn’t get the author’s name to click for me recently until your post a few days back).

    • Marie Brennan

      Have you been looking in the right part of the bookstore? Dunnett’s straight-up historical fiction, not fantasy, so she’s generally shelves in the fic/lit section.

      You probably want the Lymond series, btw, before you try the Niccolo books. And if you find the first hundred pages really goddamned confusing, don’t worry — it’s like a rite of passage. ^_^

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