NESFA Members' Reviews


by Lisa Goldstein

Tor, ISBN 0-312-86175-3, 1996, 254pp, US$21.95

A book review by Evelyn C. Leeper

Copyright 1996 Evelyn C. Leeper

Lisa Goldstein is an author who does not follow the more heavily traveled roads of fantasy, but tends to set off in her own direction, sometimes along a lesser-known path, sometimes blazing her own trail. So the title of this work is perhaps as descriptive of her work as a whole as of this work in particular.

Molly Travers is a modern woman with modern concerns until she discovers that her family were had a vaudeville act in the 1930s, doing magic. And not just illusion, it seems, but real magic. Molly travels to England to find out more, where she discovers hidden books, secret relationships, and, in the basement of an English country house, a labyrinth that is more than it first appears.

My main complaint with the book is not even anything Goldstein had control over: the typeface. It's a thinner line than the "standard" typeface, hence lighter appearing and, for me at least, harder to read. It did have a light fantasy feel, probably the idea, but ....

Now, given that is my main objection, you can guess I liked the book. Goldstein's work has often been called "magical realism," and I guess that description is as accurate as any. WALKING THE LABYRINTH is set more in real places--London, Oakland, and so on--than her works set in the mythical land of Ahaz. (That is, unless you agree with Gertrude Stein about Oakland: that "there is no there there.") But it still has that feel of being just slightly askew from reality that one finds not only in her other works, but also in those of Garcia Marquez and Amado. I am not saying she is their equal--that would be like comparing a playwright of today with Shakespeare. But she seems to be their quite worthy literary descendent, and I recommend this highly.

(That STARLOG magazine can say, "Goldstein's work does not remind the reader of other books: it is truly original and has a clear, distinct voice of its own," would seem to indicate more the narrowness of the books it knows about than Goldstein's position in literature. That she is part of such a rich literary field as magical realism is not to be considered at all a bad thing. After all, it is not just in science that "standing on the shoulders of giants" is the way new accomplishments are achieved.)

%T      Walking the Labyrinth
%A      Lisa Goldstein
%C      New York
%D      June 1996
%I      Tor
%O      hardback, US$21.95
%G      ISBN 0-312-86175-3
%P      254pp

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