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Dreams Underfoot: A Newford Collection by…

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

by Charles de Lint

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1,597294,553 (4.15)71
Title:Dreams Underfoot: A Newford Collection
Authors:Charles de Lint
Info:Orb Books (2003), Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:fiction, fantasy, urban, short stories, Newford, fairy tales

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

  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 28 (next | show all)
A collection of short stories that actually works very well as a 'novel.' They all share a setting and theme - that of troubled, often creative young people encountering myth and magic in the imaginary city of Newford. Having never been to either city, for some reason Newford conjures up a sort of cross between the Seattle and Vancouver of my mind.

Some of these stories are very, very good. I'd say some of them are some of de Lint's best work.

However, around the second half of the book, it began to bother me in the same precise way that so much of de Lint's work ALWAYS bothers me. And this time, I pinned it down:

de Lint reminds me, exactly, of any one of a number of usually well-meaning counselors, teachers and other 'adult' figures, who, when I was a teenager, were CONVINCED that due to my 'alternative' look, creative bent, and independent, rebellious attitude, that I must be suffering from low self-esteem, and hiding some sort of dreadful trauma that had 'made me that way.'

There's even a story here where a girl tells a counselor a story of trauma and then says, "Oh, I'm lying, I just said that because I knew it was what you wanted to hear." I said "YES! FINALLY! He's admitting that sometimes counselors TRY to elicit this stuff from you whether it happened or not!" But then the twist ending to the story is that it really DID all happen to her. Ugh.

Believe it or not, some people are just creative and adopt an unusual look because it fits their personal aesthetic. Some people are eccentric without being mentally ill. Some people leave home early and go their own way because they are naturally more independent than others.

de Lint's writing makes me feel conflicted, because while people with the kind of attitude I've described are DEEPLY ANNOYING, his stories also make a reader (if the reader is me) feel guilty for being annoyed by them, because of course you have to have sympathy and empathy for any character who's been through the traumas his characters have, and appreciate people that are trying to 'help.' And bad things DO happen to lots of young people; and some of them are impelled out of the 'mainstream' due to those things.

So - I feel it's a good and helpful thing to encourage empathy and understanding of people who've been through a rough time. But on the other hand, I DON'T think it's helpful at all to encourage the false stereotype that people that are non-mainstream are always depressed, abuse survivors, or 'damaged goods' in some way. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
I'll go back to this. Just wasn't in the mood for it at this point, and I'm in the middle of two others (with more waiting for me). Abandoned, but not forgotten. :)
  emblue | Jan 3, 2016 |
If you've never read any books from the Newford series, start here. This collection of short stories eases you into de Lint's magical world, letting you get to know various characters, many of whom reappear in later books in the series. The Newford series is great for those of us who never got a letter from Hogwarts, never found a portal in the back of a wardrobe or got an invitation for adventure from a wizard, but still hold on to the hope that there's magic waiting for us in the world. ( )
  WritingHaiku | Jul 28, 2015 |
O.k. I'm retiring this book unfinished. I rarely finish short story collections so I am unsure wether it was this or the audio format that did it for me. I did get most of the way through it, and liked what I read/ heard but just wasn't intrigued enough to choose it over the other books all lined up on my shelf.

Earlier thoughts.
I'm making a proper attempt at an audio book, so I thought I should use an author I know I already like. I was pleasantly surprised that I liked the first story. When I heard the woman's voice on the intro, I was anticipating that this would be a painful experience, but she won me over once I heard a few characters. I could even use my hands to do some stitching while I "read" the story. Will try some more tonight. I think a short story format is good though, as I don't think I can finish an audio book as quickly as a printed book. This way I can read other books inbetween.
( )
  Karyn_Ainsworth | Dec 29, 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 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles de Lintprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Palencar, John JudeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. --W.B.Yeats, from "He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven"
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:28 -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)

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