You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


The Dreaming JewelsThe Dreaming Jewels by Theodore Sturgeon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don't know enough about Sturgeon's writing to know if he realized just how weird this story is. As its central plot device, an eight-year-boy passes himself off as a female midget for ten years. Although an explanation is later offered, fantastic but in keeping with the story, nothing is made of this by those who are in on the deception.

The setting is a traveling carnival. The jewels are beings that fall from space with great regularity but disappear into earth's landscape. They are living beings who pass their lives unnoticed by humans, and yet are capable of affecting our lives in amazing ways. This is a good conceit, but Sturgeon literally talks it to death. Whenever an aspect of the story needs to be explained, you can expect several pages of dialog doing just that. And it's not very good dialog. It's awkward and stagey. The staginess works best with his villains, who are either ghoulish or sleazebags.

A film like Eyes Without a Face takes absurd, melodramatic elements and encloses them in its own, hermetically sealed world. If the writing had been better, and the story better told -- I guess, in other words, if it had been a better book -- The Dreaming Jewels could have achieved a similar effect.

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