Book #7 for 2009
I’ve always been fascinated with illustrated novels, and when I came across a copy of G. Garfield Crimmin’s “The Republic of Dreams” on bookmooch, I was eager to add it to my growing collection.
I had high hopes as I first skimmed the book, delighted to find that the contents were intact, even the detachable ephemera — maps, a passport, telegrams, a license card, and a whole set of postcards.
But as I read the story, my initial excitement deflated, replaced with that horrible, hollow feeling I get when a book that promises so much turns out to be a big disappointment.
The novelty of the illustrated novel is in seeing two different media — the written word and visual art– meld together in a visual narrative. My beef with The Republic of Dreams is that while the book is lovely to look at (and it must’ve cost a fortune to publish the book too), the story leaves so much more to be desired.
I found the story hard to follow, with a contrived hedonism that made it cheesy.
The author G. Garfield Crimmins finds himself in La Republique de Reves (The Republic of Dreams), where he is known as Victor La Nuage – the alter-ego of his waking self. Victor realizes he is a citizen of the Republic of Dreams, and he was sent on a mission to the “real world” to combat the Republic’s greatest enemy: The League of Common Sense, a movement bent on stifling imagination and pleasure.
(It reminds me of something out of a Jasper Fforde novel except it’s not funny because Crimmins is serious about it, which makes me think he was either a) horny (haha I had no idea this would turn out to be erotica!) b) high c) very very drunk or d) all of the above while he was creating this).
I get the feeling Crimmins wanted the Republic of Dreams to be a place everyone would want to live in, but I think he was trying too hard. He was overzealous in the exposition — “The Republic of Dreams is the true home of every dreamer, noncomformist, artist, eccentric, lover, and poet — all those who have an instinctive dislike of the narrow limitations of common sense. Its citizens love love, youth, old age, beauty, splendor, wisdom, generosity, music, song, the feast, and the dance. The weather is ideal and festivals occur daily” — and that is just in the flap of the book.
He goes on to devote 16 pages (out of 95) to a “visitor’s guide” to the Republic, and it pushes the envelope already.
Adding to the cheese factor are the bad puns throughout the novel — the national ID is called “Licence Poetique,” Madame Ricochet’s salon is a date hotspot located at the intersection of Avenue of Quivers and Shudders and Sweet Tongue Lane (there is also a Street of Sweet Escape); the capital city is Polis Poeton (city of poets) surrounded by Lake Eros — everything was just really hokey to me, too over the top, and it doesn’t help that you can’t make heads or tails out of the story.
I guess I’ll be keeping the book, just for the heck of it, at the very least it would look good (literally) on my shelf, hahaha, but I don’t think I’ll be reading it again.
You don’t believe me? Read the excerpt here http://www.wwnorton.com/catalog/fall98/crimmins.htm, and you’ll see what I mean.
My copy: hardbound, mooched from the US
My rating: 1/5 stars
Photo courtesy of wwnorton.com (http://www.wwnorton.com/cover/004633.gif, http://www.wwnorton.com/catalog/fall98/images/rep10.gif)