BPAL of the Day: Nude Woman Reclining
This is backwards since I just finished this one on Sunday night, but it is the one I want to write about now, so here it is!
This one came to me, rather unusually, through BPAL. I knew of the book for a long time, of course, but never paid that much attention to it. Even when BPAL (Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab) put up the first set of scents based on the book, I didn't really think about it beyond being interested in and buying a couple of the scents. That changed when I read the descriptions of the second set of scents and saw this:
Wonder and love and great sorrow shook Schmendrick the Magician then, and came together inside him, and filled him, filled him until he felt himself brimming and flowing with something that was none of these. He did not believe it, but it came to him anyway, as it had touched him twice before and left him more barren than he had been. This time, there was too much of it for him to hold: it spilled through his skin, sprang from his fingers and toes, welled up equally in his eyes and his hair and the hollows of his shoulders. There was too much to hold, too much ever to use; and still he found himself weeping with the pain of his impossible greed. He thought, or said, or sang, I did not know that I was so empty, to be so full.
Just incredibly beautiful! I needed to read this book after seeing that. Even though it wasn't available in eBook I went and got a copy from Borders and took the first chance I got to start reading. (Before bed while I was at the Middle Earth conference. Their health club closed at 5:30pm on weekends, meaning no read/walking... ack!)
I wasn't wrong. This is a truly lovely story. All of the characters have something to learn from each other, even the unicorn. It has a gentle, never overbearing moral, wonderfully captivating characters (I loved Schmendrick just as much as I knew I would!) and an elegant mixture of emotion without sappiness, humor, wonder and a little grit. The ending was bittersweet, but left me smiling. Its only major flaw is that it is much too short! However it is pretty amazing how rich and fully realized such a slender little book is.
I read the two short stories set in this world on Monday. 'The Woman who Married the Man in the Moon' and the Hugo and Nebula award winning 'Two Hearts.' The former is one of Schmendrick's pre-unicorn adventures and the latter works as a epilogue to 'The Last Unicorn.' Both were excellent. (And also too short!)
Absolutely and unreservedly ***** Stars!
It has been a little hard to get into anything else since finishing 'Unicorn.' I saw on the BPAL site that Peter Beagle is working on a sequel to 'The Last Unicorn.' I hope so! I want to see how Schmendrick and Molly Grue fare on their adventures.