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Yume No Hon: The Book of Dreams by…

Yume No Hon: The Book of Dreams

by Catherynne M. Valente

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1304139,783 (4.05)7
  1. 00
    Fudoki by Kij Johnson (ligature)
  2. 00
    The Sandman: The Dream Hunters [Illustrated Novella] by Neil Gaiman (Jannes)
    Jannes: Japanese-inspired mythology of dream and unreality. Valente and Gaiman are both masters of their craft, each with a unique and powerful voice and an inventiveness that leaves you awe-struck and wishing for more.

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» See also 7 mentions

Showing 5 of 5
Another Catherynne Valente book, as I've moved into trying to buy up and read through all the pieces I haven't gotten from back at her beginnings. I love how this one moves slowly upward through tiers, through consciousness, through a background story of the universe.

More fluid than a lot of her other stories, with blended and blurred consciousness, which I might advise both for and against depending on who was considering it. I really loved it, like I love all of her things though. ( )
  wanderlustlover | Jul 24, 2013 |
Yume No Hon is a beautiful, poetic, mythic, dreamlike book. It has very short chapters, following the calendar of the Heian era, which follows the year with titles to do with what plants and animals are doing at that time of year.

It doesn't have a plot, as such -- though several become discernible, or certainly there's several threads to follow, it's not the important thing to me. I don't normally read books without clearly defined plots and characters, but Yume No Hon is worth it. It's prose-poetry, essentially, with a beautiful flow and rich imagery. Almost too rich, at times: for some reason, I have in my head the image of a tree so weighed down with its own fruit that its struggling to live. But beautiful, anyway.

Also, I love the way she uses mythology. Valente has an interesting way of looking at it -- I'm not sure I can see it the same way again. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
I am a big fan of Cat Valente in general, and appreciate the hell out of her skill with language. Yume No Hon is a excellent showcase for that - there's a lot of gorgeous imagery and deeply-felt emotion, couched in myths and metaphors that I was only half-able to follow.

And that's the downside of stuff like this for me, really. I like a plot, and this is more a long prose poem built around a couple of character studies. I appreciate the artistry without really enjoying the form - it's not the best possible book for me. So definitely recommended if you like gorgeous language for its own sake - if you like a little more novel-esque structure, Valente has a number of other books that serve very well indeed. ( )
  JeremyPreacher | Mar 30, 2013 |
I have read a number of Valente's works and really enjoyed them all. This book was no exception; it is beautifully written and reminds more of poetry than a traditional story at times.

This book tells the story of a women who has fled a village when it was invaded and chosen to live the life of a hermit on a mountain. She lives in a pagoda, an old temple, on the mountain and learns lessons from the river and the gate. She is very old and at times had trouble separating dream and reality; the villagers of the village below think she is a ghost and bring offerings to her.

The beautiful descriptions and lyrical phrases in this book are outstanding. As always I am blown away by the poetic quality of Valente's writing. She is able to create wonderful imagery of both beautiful and violent things.

This book won't be for everyone; as with her book Labyrinth, the story is vague and at times it is hard to tell what is reality and what is dream...but then that is kind of the point. If you like easy to read stories, with clear-cut plots this isn't the book for you. If you don't mind vagueness and enjoy poetry you will love the lyrical quality and beauty of this book.

The book ties together a number of themes. There is a Japanese overtone to it, Babylonian creation myths are included, and theories of quantum physics are touched on. I know it sounds odd, but for this book it really works. There are also illustrations throughout, which is something new for Valente and I enjoyed those as well.

Overall another outstanding book from Valente. I love the poetry of her written and the way she makes lush descriptions of everything with analogies. The story is vague and dreamy, so it is not for everyone. If you like poetry and if you don't mind vagueness I recommend you pick this up. If you have enjoyed Valente's previous works I also recommend you pick this up. ( )
2 vote krau0098 | Apr 11, 2011 |
A story with no definite plot unfolds and refolds like origami as the narrator describes her dream-visions—which may actually be her life, memory or imagination. The narrator might be Ayako, an ancient hermit living on a mountain, or she may be “The I-that-is-Ayako,” “a hinge which opens and shuts strange windows, who dreams she is more than her flesh.”
Several forces propel this book. First, Ayako’s visions cross cultures and time with the vast range of mythology she encounters. In one dream, her dream-sister is Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess. In another, she births the Egyptian god Horus. Others involve quantum physics, circuses, Oedipus, medieval Japanese culture, and a host of dream-guide animals. All deal with themes of change, transience and uncertainty. The second force behind the book is its lush, adjective-laden language, which fluidly draws comparisons and metaphors that employ even more images.
Chapters are named after months from the Japanese Heian period calendar, and they detail changes in animals and nature that signal seasonal cycles, like “Grasses Wither” and “Earthworms Come Out.” While the storyline is sparse and buried in surrealism, glimpses of plot emerge from Ayoko’s interactions with River, Mountain and Gate—beings who teach her Zen koan-like lessons.
With its poetic style, abundance of symbols and ambiguous plotline and characters, the book can be overwhelming, despite its short length. Too many symbols, after all, can become meaningless. But Valente may have intended this shadowy environment to immerse us in the same confusion Ayoko experiences, as she tries to navigate and interpret her visions and distinguish her thoughts from her Self.
1 vote NoSuchUser | Oct 30, 2007 |
Showing 5 of 5
Yume No Hon is its own book of dreams. It gives us a life in stories. It is, perhaps, the only way such things can be understood.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0809510871, Hardcover)

In the mind of Ayako, an old woman in exile on a mountain in medieval Japan, nothing is certain, and nothing holds a familiar shape for long. This is a map of a psyche exalted and destroyed by solitude, and on its contorted surface Shinto philosophy, Greek mathematics, Hawaiian goddesses, Egyptian legend, quantum physics, and Babylonian myth meet and merge... In Catherynne M. Valente's second novel since the critically acclaimed The Labyrinth, language and myth construct a strange new geography of the self. This is The Book of Dreams: open it and walk the shadowy paths of this extraordinary landscape.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:05 -0400)

In the mind of Ayako, an old woman in exile on a mountain in medievalJapan, nothing is certain, and nothing holds a familiar shape for long. This isa map of a psyche exalted and destroyed by solitude, and on its contortedsurface Shinto philosophy, Greek mathematics, Hawaiian goddesses, Egyptianlegend, quantum physics, and Babylonian myth meet and merge... InCatherynne M. Valente's second novel since the critically acclaimed TheLabyrinth, language and myth construct a strange new geography of theself. This is The Book of Dreams: open it and walk the shadowy paths ofthis extraordinary landscape.… (more)

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