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Dreams Underfoot: A Newford Collection (original 1993; edition 2003)

by Charles de Lint

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1,504254,923 (4.15)65
Member:RoseinLA
Title:Dreams Underfoot: A Newford Collection
Authors:Charles de Lint
Info:Orb Books (2003), Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***1/2
Tags:fiction, fantasy, urban, short stories, Newford, fairy tales

Work details

Dreams Underfoot: The Newford Collection by Charles de Lint (1993)

Recently added byXiguli, TerryBrooks, locriian, shannanwithana, private library, heaven_star, humblewomble
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  1. 30
    Memory and Dream by Charles de Lint (Kerian)
    Kerian: Memory and Dream takes place before Dreams Underfoot. A difference is that it's a novel versus a collection of short stories. If you wish to continue with short stories in this series, The Ivory and the Horn is the next short story collection.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Dreams Underfoot is a fitting title for this book. It wraps us into Newford, a city where dreams and magic and fantasy is only a glance away. Buried inside each person's heart is a bird of magic, unless you choose to give it away. And in this book we meet the homeless, violinists, the lost, good-dooers of Newford who all encounter this subtle magic in their own way. We even meet the city herself.

It's a strange collection of novellas that weave and intertwine and somehow relate. But it works. We might meet a character and then see her from different pair of eyes later on. Jilly is introduced to magic when she meets the sullen Goodn, and then in future novellas she is a listening ear, a best friend, a passer-by in this city. Every character has their own story and hidden past, hidden sorrows, and quiet moments with magic. It's a juggle of characters with a thin weave of magic connecting all of them.

His writing has a certain appeal. It's soft and dreamy. It's wistful. It tells you stories that make you wonder if maybe balloon men are just outside your window rolling around in the clouds. I drifted through each page and had to stop reading sometimes to catch my breath and just imagine if my own eyes were clear enough to see magic in this world.

It is also beautiful because it seems more real with the darkness. Not magical sparkles and unicorns. And even more than beautiful gommies to take a dying man away and mermaids or whimsical meetings with Big Foot. These is darkness. Boogers with angry red eyes and great teeth. A love torn away by space and time. Monsters that kill, freaks that steal life's fire, etc. This is a sort of magic that lies parallel to life. It is not more or less, it is not good or bad. But it is there, if only you have the eyes to see.

The only major problem I had with this book is that there was no change in voice, even when we're reading first person perspective of completely different characters. All the characters all sound the same. I think it's because it's very rare for a book to contain first person POV for multiple characters. But since a character's voice is tied to the writing style (and obviously de Lint has the same style, even for different characters), the voices all end up sounding the same. I'm not sure if this is a flaw that could even be fixed, unless one were talented at writing in completely different styles. Well, I guess that's possible too.

Also, the story I disliked the most was the mermaid story. I didn't dislike the way the story was written or characters or anything like that. I disapprove because it followed the little mermaid story too closely. This book should not be a retelling of old fairy tales. That's not what the first 200 pages were about, but somehow that one was.

I imagine many people will dislike this sort of book. There is hardly any plot. There is really no direction. But I think it's lovely in and of itself.

4.5 stars. I rounded down because I am not sure I'll reread this book, but I might. And if I do, it will be 5 stars.
Recommended for those who can take a slower book. For those who are trying to see a little magic in their own lives. ( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
Dreams Underfoot is a fitting title for this book. It wraps us into Newford, a city where dreams and magic and fantasy is only a glance away. Buried inside each person's heart is a bird of magic, unless you choose to give it away. And in this book we meet the homeless, violinists, the lost, good-dooers of Newford who all encounter this subtle magic in their own way. We even meet the city herself.

It's a strange collection of novellas that weave and intertwine and somehow relate. But it works. We might meet a character and then see her from different pair of eyes later on. Jilly is introduced to magic when she meets the sullen Goodn, and then in future novellas she is a listening ear, a best friend, a passer-by in this city. Every character has their own story and hidden past, hidden sorrows, and quiet moments with magic. It's a juggle of characters with a thin weave of magic connecting all of them.

His writing has a certain appeal. It's soft and dreamy. It's wistful. It tells you stories that make you wonder if maybe balloon men are just outside your window rolling around in the clouds. I drifted through each page and had to stop reading sometimes to catch my breath and just imagine if my own eyes were clear enough to see magic in this world.

It is also beautiful because it seems more real with the darkness. Not magical sparkles and unicorns. And even more than beautiful gommies to take a dying man away and mermaids or whimsical meetings with Big Foot. These is darkness. Boogers with angry red eyes and great teeth. A love torn away by space and time. Monsters that kill, freaks that steal life's fire, etc. This is a sort of magic that lies parallel to life. It is not more or less, it is not good or bad. But it is there, if only you have the eyes to see.

The only major problem I had with this book is that there was no change in voice, even when we're reading first person perspective of completely different characters. All the characters all sound the same. I think it's because it's very rare for a book to contain first person POV for multiple characters. But since a character's voice is tied to the writing style (and obviously de Lint has the same style, even for different characters), the voices all end up sounding the same. I'm not sure if this is a flaw that could even be fixed, unless one were talented at writing in completely different styles. Well, I guess that's possible too.

Also, the story I disliked the most was the mermaid story. I didn't dislike the way the story was written or characters or anything like that. I disapprove because it followed the little mermaid story too closely. This book should not be a retelling of old fairy tales. That's not what the first 200 pages were about, but somehow that one was.

I imagine many people will dislike this sort of book. There is hardly any plot. There is really no direction. But I think it's lovely in and of itself.

4.5 stars. I rounded down because I am not sure I'll reread this book, but I might. And if I do, it will be 5 stars.
Recommended for those who can take a slower book. For those who are trying to see a little magic in their own lives. ( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
I only made it about a third of the way through Dreams Underfoot. It wasn't bad, but I just didn't get into it. The writing was good and lyrical and the stories were well-constructed. The world Charles de Lint creates is unique and creative and he draws interesting characters. But I wasn't captivated by it, and when I wasn't reading I didn't feel particularly drawn to pick it up again. I think part of the issue may be that I am just not a short story person. I like novels that I can get completely lost in. With short stories, just when I'm starting to feel connected to the characters, it's over. Additionally, I didn't find much I could relate to in the world de Lint created, and I began to get a little tired of the characters all being of the urban bohemian sort, which is very different from my own experience of life. So all in all, I decided not to continue reading it. However, I know many people love Charles de Lint, so I can't really say that I do or do not recommend Dreams Underfoot. It just wasn't for me. ( )
  sbsolter | Feb 6, 2014 |
Great fantasy mixed with the seedy side of life, interconnected with some of the same characters throughout. Totally enjoyed. ( )
  tloeffler | Oct 19, 2013 |
A bunch of short stories that might be a bunch of stories and might sort of be a novel, depending on how many you read. I recommend that you try at least a few, if you are at all interested in fairy tales, urban legends, or just getting by in the world. The retelling of "The Little Mermaid" is the best take on the story I've ever come across.
  louistb | Jun 29, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. --W.B.Yeats, from "He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven"
Dedication
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She would see them in the twilight when the wind was right, roly-poly shapes propelled by ocean breezes, turning end-over-end along the beach or down the alley behind her house like errant beach balls granted a moment's freedom.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765306794, Paperback)

Welcome to Newford. . . .

Welcome to the music clubs, the waterfront, the alleyways where ancient myths and magic spill into the modern world. Come meet Jilly, painting wonders in the rough city streets; and Geordie, playing fiddle while he dreams of a ghost; and the Angel of Grasso Street gathering the fey and the wild and the poor and the lost. Gemmins live in abandoned cars and skells traverse the tunnels below, while mermaids swim in the grey harbor waters and fill the cold night with their song.

Like Mark Helprin's A Winter's Tale and John Crowley's Little, Big, Dreams Underfoot is a must-read book not only for fans of urban fantasy but for all who seek magic in everyday life.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:04 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Like John Crowley's Little, Big and Mark Helprin's A Winter's Tale, Dreams Underfoot is a Must Read book not only for fans of urban fantasy but for all who seek magic in everyday life.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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