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Posted May 27, 2011
I want this to be the first in a series
For Nova Coates, the protagonist of J.M. McDermott's 'Death Mask and Eulogy, a Novelette,' the routine of late nights and isolating work is tedious and repetitive. Contrastingly, for the reader it is a survey of a Catherynne Valente style setting occupied by death mask artists, mythic undertakers, and suicidal eulogy poets.
'Death Mask and Eulogy, a Novelette,' at times reminds of Valente's writing, although its poetic turns of phrase pale slightly in the shadow of the comparison and seem more tamed than 'Last Dragon.' This is not to suggest J.M. McDermott is regressing, only that at times it seems as if he needs more space bring us into the world.
Perhaps my strongest compliment is that I find myself wishing the title were 'Death Mask and Eulogy, Episode One,' so that the story could continue unrestrained. It certainly acted for me as evidence that 'Last Dragon' was more a successful first step than successful experiment for the then new author.
'Death Mask and Eulogy, a Novelette' is certainly worth the money and will be driving me to pick up his newest novel. I also strongly recommend 'Last Dragon' as a difficult, but beautiful read for those inclined to benefit from the newest printing.
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