Mar 4, 2009

I like this review from here:

03-03-09: Carolyn Turgeon Wants to Introduce You to Her 'Godmother' : A New York Fairy Tale

Anybody who reads this column regularly probably knows the employees at their local independent bookstores. But how well? Carolyn Turgeon imagines in 'Godmother' (Three Rivers Press / Crown / Random House ; March 10, 2009 ; $13.95) that there's quite a bit we may not know about the employees of our favorite local bookstores.

In the opening pages of 'Godmother', readers meet Lil, an old woman who works in a used bookstore. Readers will recognize themselves in the character, just the first of many clever turns by the author. Lil loves the smell of old books — don’t we all? Especially in bookstores. And as well, Lil loves the whole "Found" Magazine aspect of books, those little notes that sometimes drop out, grocery lists of ancient "I love you" messages. It's a pretty good gamble that people who read books will like to read about other people who like books as much as said readers. And that they'll empathize with booksellers. With careful, lush language and evocative prose, Turgeon puts readers in the first-person perspective of Lil with complete confidence.

Of course, it turns out that Lil has wings.

And no, thank whatever bearded deity you happen to impose on a cloudy sky, she's not an angel. She's a Fairy Godmother with a shameful past. It's the Godmother aspect that gets her the huge feathered wings; otherwise, she might be ready to apply for a supporting role in the NY Opera version of David Cronenburg's The Fly — because most fairies apparently have insect wings. And the shameful past, well, it has to do with a lass named Cinderella, and the unfortunate role Lil played in the what actually transpired but has been you know, cosmeticized by earlier authors.

Turgeon doesn't play her fairytale New York for laughs. Instead she immerses readers in a sensual, visceral world that happens to include a variety of magical creatures which she renders as believable characters. Once the fairies are real, they can complicate the plot in ways that humans cannot, which allows Turgeon the opportunity to play with plot imagery and characters in a rather unique manner. She can have fun with a purpose, use the fantasy tropes to tell us not about fantasy, but about reality. She manages to do this while telling two stories in the space generally allotted to one.

Readers will have to be on their toes to find 'Godmother.' It's a trade paperback original with a rather bland cover that's not likely to get shelved with genre fiction and not likely to be noticed with literary fiction. It belongs on both sets of shelves, really, which is verboten in today's bookselling climate. It's worth the search (and you should look for it at your local independent — I mean, the main character does work at an independent bookstore!), no matter what your literary inclinations are. It has the surreal aspects of the best genre fiction and the literary chops to appeal to a much wider crowd. It's certainly fun, and moreover one of those books that is guaranteed to change the way readers perceive the world. You'll never look at your bookseller in the same light.