Monday, August 8, 2011

The Manual of Detection

Jedediah Berry uses the stock images of the detective novel to create a Kafkaesque fable. Set in a quasi-victorian(where the steampunk label comes from)/quasi-30’s atmosphere this is an atmospheric, baroque, and endlessly readable fantasy where it could have been a dry run through of genre cleverness. The sum of the parts doesn’t quite bring it in for a totally satisfying ending but the ride is terrific. Great debut. On influences, well digested for the most part,though maybe a bit of an obvious nod to Angela Carter (her Infernal desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman a touchstone with the war of dreams and a character named Hoffman) and hints of Borges, Calvino, Jeunet/Cairo and Gilliam movies, Lethem, and Auster.

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