A tragically beautiful story as intriguing as it is heartbreaking. It is about the struggle of an artist dealing with her unbelievable gift and the consequences of that gift. The memories it caused changed her life and that of those around her. As she deals with the past and the present she begins to see how her life and actions have and will effect the future. The more I read the more I understood that it was about so much more than that.
An ultimate battle between hope and despair that has not only renewed my faith in my own work as an artist but inspired me to become so much more. Charles De Lint writes with such accuracy and realism that you cant help but believe that the people in his books are real. After reading Memory and Dream I felt as though I knew the characters as actual people, friends. This book will wrench your guts and restore your faith at the same time. I highly recommend it to anyone who has every dreamed and picked up a paint brush or pen in hopes of creating something beautiful for others or for themselves.
Charles De Lint is a wonderful writer. Very interesting stories, all with a interesting twists. Dark fantasy but not too dark.
I keep reading de Lint's books, and almost loving them. But I never quite do. I spent some time today thinking about why, and I think it's that, although I like the type of people he tends to feature as characters, and I tend to agree with many of his themes, I think that what he wants to "say" comes before his actual story.
Some books, one feels that the action springs from the characters and who they are - in de Lint's, I feel that he's almost walking them through it.
"Memory and Dream" is about a young art student who meets a famous, reclusive artist. He becomes her mentor - but is also controlling and abusive. But - he teaches her a technique of painting that allows her to open a gateway through her paintings, allowing creatures of magic to "step through" and take physical form in our world.
Years later, she has rejected this ability - and through both memories and illusions, we see the story of why - in a tale that involves her best friend's death, friends estranged, hidden child abuse, and a foundation to help troubled kids through art... but also magical beings.
When, five years after her friend's death, a letter that was delayed in the mail arrives, a chain of events is set in motion that will bring all of both the magic and trauma of the past back to be dealt with, and she will realize evil secrets may be deeper than she ever knew.
Actually, that seems to be one of de Lint's themes that I disagree with. If I recall correctly, "Forests of the Heart" had a similar thing going on - someone that people always made excuses for, but who turned out to be PURE EVIL. de Lint seems to be hinting that there isn't such a thing as a flawed person, with both bad and good in them - it's either good or evil, and what people do is just kid themselves that these people aren't really evil. And moreover, I feels there's an agenda behind the writing, to encourage readers to kick those flawed, depressed or controlling/manipulative/abusive people out of their lives. Not that I'm saying that people shouldn't ditch such people - but I think one can recognize an unhealthy relationship without going to the "PURE EVIL!" extreme.
When all the characters fall into "types" (artistic but emotionally sensitive/gullible student, abusive and powerful mentor, rape victim, child abuse victim, well-meaning and kind black social worker, honorable and justice-seeking Native American, good-at-heart gang members, troubled children who are victims of society, etc) it begins to feel a little preachy, and a little idealistic. In this book, I didn't just feel like I was reading a story about people who wanted to run a non-profit agency to help street kids, I felt like I was being exhorted to donate time and money to such charities.
I think the reason for this is that although such "troubled kids" appear in the book, none of them make more than two-dimensional, cameo appearances. It gives the feeling of do-gooders proffering charity, rather than offering insight into what it might be like to grow up on the streets. The brief flashback into the abused character's being forced into child porn really didn't ring true, either...
Hmm. I'm sounding a little harsh now. I did actually like this book. I've read a lot of de Lint's books, and I'll read more. I like the way he meshes magic with a 'modern bohemian' setting. But a message is more effective when more subtly given...