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Monday, December 28, 2009

Find of the Year

It has been a good year. A really really good year. As evidenced by my library, especially.

What, you really thought I could get by without talking about those godawesome, superfabulous prized gems I have?!

Anyway, I think it would be fitting to end this year with a post on the best find this year, without any doubt whatsoever. Hang on, I'm not actually promising this is my last post this year, just saying this might be.

So, I have firm faith that when it comes to books, they find you. When the time is right.

Say what now? Oh did I say that already? About Life? Well, err ... it's a good philosophy and who said I could only use it once, anyway?

Nyhoo, like I was saying ... I find it unbelievable that I spent so much time without knowing this peice of fabulousness which is my recent find.

But now I first insist on elaborating on my philosophy. So, it was Christmas Eve and I was off work early (not really, everyone else had left hours before I and another colleague did). I wanted a present for Christmas. Seeing as how none were forthcoming owing to my home-alone status for the week, I decided the thing to do was go find one. And I trotted off to that humongous bookstore in the neighbourhood. I LOVE the place. How can you not love any place that is five floors filled wall to wall with books?! Okay, I admit, occasionally, when I'm tired, the place tires me. It tires me to look at so many books and not be able to simply pick something up like that and be done with it.

Anyway, Christmas Eve seemed to be one of my luckier days. I walked in and sauntered over to the fiction section. Let my eyes rove over what was on offer, for a bit ... and then, something started to nag at me. "Let's go to the science fiction section" kept playing in my mind on loop and in ten strides, I was there, before I even had a chance to have a mental argument.

I was actually in the wrong bit because I was vaguely looking for anything by Neil Gaiman. But I hadn't yet registered the fact and was browsing. And something caught my eye amid all the dark brooding covers and spines on display. Something rather bright and sunshiny. I looked closer to find something extremely appealing looking back at me.

Just look at that! Isn't that the cutest thing ever?! Tell me it doesn't call out to you! Tell me you're going to find that in the science-fiction section and not be intrigued.

So I picked it up. The front cover says "Moers' creative mind is like J. K. Rowling's on ecstasy", which made me sceptical but the sight of a darned cute bluebear spurred me on to glance at the back cover. Where I found a short description and more reviews. Shall I just say, no second thoughts, I picked it up and handling it like it was a baby, walked around a bit more before heading to the till? I did.

And I started reading it on the way home. I'm sort of half-way through it and I can't remember any other book that I have savoured as much. Any other book that I haven't hurriedly read through just so I could finish and know how it ends. This is ... incredible!

Sometimes, I wonder how I lived before I discovered Neil Gaiman and Stardust, and the Hitchiker's Guide. Now I wonder how I could have existed without knowing of Walter Moers.

To put it very very succinctly, this is the perfect cross between the Hitchiker's Guide and Neil Gaiman's work. I can't agree with the J. K. Rowling reference simply because that's like comparing the Mahabharata and Percy Jackson because they're both mythology based.

"The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear: A Novel", as titles go, is very intriguing. You don't really know what to expect. Is this going to be about re-incarnation? It's about a blue bear. The possibilities are endless! A blue bear. So simple and yet so intricate a creation of imagination. Anything can happen! And does!

He's found floating in a walnut by 6-inch high minipirates and raised by them to sail the seas until he grows too big for their vessel and is abandoned. Whereupon he's found by Hobgoblins who look after him while he repays them by crying for their pleasure. And hen he sets sail on his own and encounters Babbling Billows who teach him to speak. 'Speak' is too less a term to describe Bluebear's education here. He learns "to spell and pronounce, decline and conjugate, substantivize and genitivize, accusativize and dativize ..." and "... murmer and maunder, gabble and prattle, whisper and bellow, converse and confabulate [...] deliver a speech or a soliloquy [...] talk someone else to a standstill, [...] talk [my] way out of a life or death situation [...] propose a toast, swear an oath (and break it), declaim a monologue, compose a verse ..." and much more.

He nearly gets eaten by a monstrous undersea plant that lures its victims by pretending to be a gourmet island, rescued by a Roving Reptilian Rescuer (Pterodactylus Salvator) and becomes his navigator, is enrolled in the school of a Nocturnomath (a seven brained ... errr, creature) where he is taught ever possible thing imaginable, makes friends with a gelatinous prince from the 2364th dimension, an Alpine Imp, meets Troglotrolls, falls into a dimensional hiatus ... and has several more entertaining, well narrated adventures which I'm yet to read.

You want funny sounding complicated names and terms? You've got it. You want a bit of hi-fi sci-fi? Bluebear's story is your bible. You want superior illustrations and presentation? Don't look further.

Seriously, how exactly did I exist without even knowing about this book?! Or Walter Moers for that matter.

My only tiny gripe is that the paras aren't indented so occasionally it's hard to tell where one ends and another begins but it's a very minor issue, one you hardly notice when you're so engrossed in the story.

Read it, you're missing out and it's not worth missing out on. And when you've finished it, find all the other books you can by Walter Moers and keep them safe.

I'm going to be building a temple for Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams and Walter Moers.


  1. hehe..the book sounds appealing to me..thanks for the nice review..actually not a review but you gave a really astounding description on it.,...of how you find was such a great book i think..happy new year!

  2. Happy new year!

    Nothing to beat a visit to a 5 storied building full of books!
    (my weakness.. :))

    And inability to come out empty handed... Always a minimum of two books even when the whole idea of trip to the city was window shopping... :)

    Once again, happy new year..

    - Sands.

  3. and who will build the temple for me?!
    traitor! :P

  4. Looks like a long quest. Cute isn't the thing I look for in the book covers (fierce is more of my thing), but this sounds quite interesting.

    BTW, just finished "Dracula: the Un-dead". Review up soon.

  5. *quickly scribbles name onto list so as to pick up book from library asap*

    And yes, cutest thing ever!