For me, having read and enjoyed so much of de Lint's work over the years, The Little Country is, hands down, his most beautiful prose writing. The magical tale he tells, and the magical way he tells it, is the most extraordinary of all his imaginative fantasy, bar none, you.
I realize that's going some, considering his largely successful oeuvre is made up of highly imaginative fantasy. The mind of the beholder, perhaps, but of all his stories, in The Little Country, the old authorial axiom, "show, don't tell," is the most perfectly realized of anything he's written, (with the possible exception of his recent, The Wind in His Heart.)
The thematic tropes that are de Lint's stock in trade are all present here: complicated relationships; life's mix of dark and light; the importance of tradition and culture in sustaining the human aptitude and need for love and beauty; and how it takes all kinds to make a world, or an otherworld...
But, unlike some of his other writings, there is never an awkward authorial intrusion; no interruptive cultural rants, or gender equality public service announcements. The plot never requires, or has to play second fiddle to, any intrusive extra-textual opinions or explanatory proppings-up, something which has diminished more than one of his otherwise imaginative, captivating stories; (Spirits in the Wires, for example is essentially shipwrecked by that sort of intrusion.)
In The Little Country, all important topics and cultural points of view are expressed exclusively through characterization and plot, and very effectively, at that. The pacing is masterful, often generating a hanging on the edge of one's seat suspense, but never just suspense for suspense's sake, and interspersed with moments of really touching pathos and beauty. Hilarity is here, as well.
One of de Lint's greatest strengths as a writer has always been his ability to generate believable, memorable characters. That capacity is in full force in this book, with the added support of fascinating linguistic elements, turns of phrase that are unusual and very charming, you, and based on actual usage in the culture he sets his 'real' world in. It was, in fact, my recollection of one odd, bird-like character in The Little Country that prompted me to purchase the Kindle version recently, after having read the original publication almost thirty years ago.
The descriptions of scene and locale, and especially weather, are truly beautiful, the best realized of anything de LInt has written.
- Mass Market Paperback
- Publisher: Tom Doherty Assoc Llc; Reissue edition (1 January 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812522486
- ISBN-13: 978-0812522488
- Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 2.5 x 17.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 272 g
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