In the age of science there lived a small boy, trapped in the body of an oafish man. The boy read like a wolf howls, like a moon beams, but one day his attention was caught by another interest, as so often happens with small boys.
The boy went on an epic quest through film noir, spanning many great masterworks, before he neared the end and felt it wise to stretch out the remaining, curated titles. For while this was a prodigious period in Hollywood, there are only so many artistic masterpieces allowed in the world at any given time.
So the boy set his film collection aside and returned to his one, true love: magic.
Blind Voices – Tom Reamy
“Let them enjoy each other for a while. Let him be happy before he has to battle for our lives.”
Told from a few different perspectives, the most delightful of which are two youngsters, wonder in the their eyes and mischief in their hearts, a traveling circus visits a small town in Kansas and disrupts the lives of its inhabitants. Mr. Haverstock runs a freak show, but the exotic creatures are so real and the show so spectacular that some believe there’s actual wizardry at work.
A second key perspective is that of Evelyn, an 18 year old girl who’s grappling with life decisions such as the choice between arranged marriage or the shrinking possibility of college. Evelyn develops a crush on one of the performers at the same time her more sexually promiscuous friends are entertaining others, and over a few short days the circus has taken over the waking lives of nearly everyone. When one of the performers is unable to control his urges, things go south quickly.
Despite the implications of a childlike experience with a traveling circus, the book is decidedly adult, featuring a little sex and occasional bouts of strong violence. Much of Blind Voices is coming-of-age fantasy, but it’s got roots in the horror world as well.
The book was published after Mr. Reamy’s death. There’s speculation it wasn’t quite finished, and it’s true the book may have benefited from additional polish, but the story is there as is the evocation of wonder. The relatively short novel gets a little dark in a few sections, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Most importantly, it successfully transports the reader through time and space, not just giving you the circus, but giving you back that span of life where such things were the stuff of creation itself.
We’re all adults here, which means the magic died for us long ago. When we left the infinite realms to burden ourselves with adult responsibilities, the trade was permanent. Sometimes, we can very nearly brush up against the ancient world and almost remember. Should you choose to reach for that indefinable starburst that left forever the day you payed your first bill, you may rest assured the cold, grey world will be waiting for you when you return.
If you return.