Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild, by Catherynne M. Valente

Part 1 Clarkesworld, January 2015
Part 2 Clarkesworld, March 2015

Violet Wild is a young girl living in the Purple Country, in a world where countries are actually different colors, and words can have wildly different meanings in different countries. Violet's Mummery is a clarinaut,who pilots a Clarinet to all the different countries, and so is often away, leaving Violet with Papo and his herds. Violet has a friend named Orchid Harm, and they are very fond of each other, and he gets eaten by time squirrels. Not long after, Violet discovers her Mummery is having an affair with the Ordinary Emperor.

So Violet sets out through the assorted color countries with her pet sorrow (apparently, in most places, an elephant), and has adventures and encounters with various forms of metaphor. In one country, money means sorrow, and Violet has to pay for her meal by reliving grief. In another, money means time, and the meal is paid for with a dead time squirrel.

Her ultimate destination is the Red Country, and it's an open question whether she'll get there alive.

This is an odd and challenging story, not to be read unless you can devote your full and complete attention to it. I'm not sure yet whether I liked it or not.