‘The City of Dreaming Books’ by Walter Moers

Written by Optimus Yarnspinner in Zamonian, ‘translated’ to German and illustrated by Walter Moers, then translated into English by John Brownjohn.

Books, books, books, books.

This book was recommended to me by the lovely proprietors of Book Passion in Belconnen, and though I haven’t read it yet, I have been ogling it on my shelf and looking forward to getting stuck into it.  It is a bibliophile’s book.  It follows the story of Optimus Yarnspinner.  In a world where authorial godparents see to the literary education of children and there are species and cities renowned for producing great writers, Optimus’ godfather leaves him a manuscript without an author attribution.  Optimus heads to the City of Dreaming Books (antiquarian and collectible books who are neither alive nor dead in the eyes of booksellers and readers, simply resting) to seek out its author.

There’s a fun adventure story somewhere in there, but more importantly there’s books!  I loved the story but the books alone would have been enough to keep me entertained.  Though I did not recognise them all, every author in this fantasy world seems to be an anagram of all or part of a famous author’s name in reality; Doylan Cone for example.  I was quite distraught that the afternote by Moers implied that Yarnspinner had written far more about his own life and about some of the inhabitants of the City of Dreaming Books.  Even though it’s probably in keeping with the pretence of the sub-titling and the narrative persona, I can’t help but wish that I could take up the study of Zamonian and seek out for myself these further untranslated volumes.

I’m going to keep a keen eye out for Moers’ other work, and I imagine that sometime in the next few weeks I will be returning to re-read this.  You can’t borrow it, it’s mine.  Go buy your own.  If you love books half as much as I do, you’ll love reading this book.  If you love inked drawings, you may have to just browse through the pages for those alone.

There’s a great review at Adventures in Reading, another at The Book Pirate, and there’s a lot of love all around in general.  Who wouldn’t love a book about books?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s