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Posted March 31, 2012
Young Joe has a strange dream the night before he goes to work at the carnival. But he’s only leaving for a week. He’ll be back in plenty of time to help his father bring in the hay. And if he meets some strange people, well they won’t be any stranger than his gay uncle and crazy aunt.
This is small-town America in the 1970s, and author Peter Joseph Swanson brings it vividly to life, from rain and mud to politics and bright lights. The carnies just want to make a buck, but their way of life is dying. The townsfolk just want to enjoy the relief of some unreality, which they find in plentiful supply. Wheels tilt, rifles shoot, and the dunking tank waits for its prey. A genuine fortune teller mixes wise advice and common sense with some very strange dreams. Ghosts haunt the gathering clouds and voices whisper in the mirrors of the maze.
The well-pitched dialog reads itself into the ear as readers absorb the dark-rimmed atmosphere. With hints of Ray Bradbury and an innocent abroad, plus sheer terror and social commentary, the whole tale builds up to a book that’s easy to read, easy to put down and take up again, and sufficiently haunting you’ll find yourself still untangling all the lines when the last page is done.
Is the future written in visions, crystal balls or in mud? Or does it take the light of the carnival to set a young mind free? Read and wonder and enjoy.
Disclosure: I’m reading a book a month just for me, and this is the one I chose for March.
Posted February 13, 2011
*By The Light Of The Carnival* is an easy story to get into and follow. I enjoyed it very much, as well as the typically-Swanson colorful and diverse characters, who try to explain the question marks of life with ghosts, spirits, and a variety of religions. It was an interesting close-up view of the mystique of carnival life. Philosophical, insightful, and quite ironic at times.
"You'll get your dignity back when you count the money you've made."
"It's where I first realized I was gay. by the light of the carnival."
"The people who make it in this world are the ones who dream things that can come true."
"Let the fates take us all by the hand and leave it be."
"Love isn't making eyes at each other all day long; love is looking together in the same direction. "