Light Boxes

Light Boxes

by Shane Jones

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Overview

A poignant and fantastical first novel by a timeless new literary voice.

With all the elements of a classic fable, vivid descriptions, and a wholly unique style, this idiosyncratic debut introduces a new and exciting voice to readers of such authors as George Saunders, Kurt Vonnegut, and Yann Martel.

In Light Boxes, the inhabitants of one closely-knit town are experiencing perpetual February. It turns out that a god-like spirit who lives in the sky, named February, is punishing the town for flying, and bans flight of all kind, including hot air balloons and even children's kites. It's February who makes the sun nothing but a faint memory, who blankets the ground with snow, who freezes the rivers and the lakes. As endless February continues, children go missing and more and more adults become nearly catatonic with depression. But others find the strength to fight back, waging war on February.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143117780
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/25/2010
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 774,314
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Shane Jones was born in February of 1980. His poetry and short fiction have appeared in numerous literary journals, including New York Tyrant, Unsaid, Typo, and Pindeldyboz. He lives in upstate New York. This is his first novel.

Read an Excerpt

View an excerpt from Light Boxes.

What People are Saying About This

Joe Meno

"Reading this book makes you realize what our American literature has been missing. Wholly original, tremendously imaginative, written with the deftest hand, Light Boxes makes sense of modern life in the way only dreams can." --(Joe Meno, author of Hairstyles of the Damned)

Jedediah Berry

"At last, a book that cries out to our inner balloonists. Shane Jones has built a fable that is fresh and surprising, but also familiar in the way that the oldest stories are familiar."--(Jedediah Berry, author of The Manual of Detection)

Rivka Galchen

"Resplendent, and somehow nearly edible, Shane Jones has written the kind of novel that makes you reconsider the word perfect."--(Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances)

From the Publisher

"Resplendent, and somehow nearly edible, Shane Jones has written the kind of novel that makes you reconsider the word perfect."
-Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances

"At last, a book that cries out to our inner balloonists. Shane Jones has built a fable that is fresh and surprising, but also familiar in the way that the oldest stories are familiar."
-Jedediah Berry, author of The Manual of Detection

"Reading this book makes you realize what our American literature has been missing. Wholly original, tremendously imaginative, written with the deftest hand, Light Boxes makes sense of modern life in the way only dreams can."
-Joe Meno, author of Hairstyles of the Damned

"[T]his literary gem of metaphysical malaise has that ideally weird blend of offputting sensualism and heartfelt emotion-just the sort of thing to ensure a dedicated, if limited, following."
-Booklist

Customer Reviews

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Light Boxes 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
plenilune on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's called a novel, I suppose because it has to be classified as something for the sake of marketing, but it really defies genre. It is poetry, flash fiction, a fable, a fairy tale for grown-ups, like Grimm's tales before they were sanitized for children. The language is gorgeous, the images are vivid and clearly wrought, the story is engrossing. I must admit, I'm not entirely sure what the message is: something to do with freedom, but also I couldn't help but read a critique on both capitalism (as societal control) and religion (particularly Christianity) in it; I'm not entirely sure what to make of it, but it is lovely, exquisite and worth a closer reading in the future.
detailmuse on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
From the epigraph:The most serious charge which can be brought against New England is not Puritanism but February. -- Joseph Wood KrutchLight Boxes opens as hot-air balloonist Thaddeus Lowe, his wife Selah and young daughter Bianca, and their whole close-knit town are enjoying the last evenings of pleasant weather before February arrives. But then February does descend, and worse than ever -- ordering the destruction of all forms and creatures of flight and refusing to vacate and make way for spring -- eventually prompting the town to organize an underground resistance.It seems an allegory of seasonal affective disorder, and I loved it in the beginning -- intriguing, with poetic imagery and emotion, for example from Thaddeus:¿I closed my eyes. I imagined Selah and Bianca in a canoe so narrow they had to lie down with their arms folded on their stomachs, their heads at opposite ends, their toes touching. I dreamed two miniature suns. I set one each upon their foreheads. I dreamed a waterfall and a calm lake of my arms below to catch them.¿I also like its experimental structure (multiple narrators; odd fonts and formatting; chapters comprised of single sentences, partial pages, and lists), which is sometimes used to marvelous effect (and sometimes grows tiresome). I liked the story less as hundreds of days of February pass and things turn from mysterious to dystopian and war-ish -- but that¿s what really happens in February, yes? And that's what fans of dystopian fiction may like the most.(Review based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher.)
lailahanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Almost like he (Jones) written with no effort. Yet we can feel him as we go through each page. This is a kind of contemporary literature youth nowadays should start learn to appreciate. An ultimate game of words, design and plot.
gonzobrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Light Boxes is a peculiar book. By all accounts it can be easily misidentified as a children's book, given its fanciful illustrated cover as well as overly short chapters, containing an often poetic yet simplified tone. Careful reading suggests otherwise, for it better resembles the cold, lonely and desperate circumstances found by those with firsthand knowledge of the cruelest month, February. Indeed, for well within the work the reader is confronted with death by winter; kidnappings, hangings, throats stuffed full of snow and death by icy lichen. Quite unsettling, really, for the novella symbolizes not only with harshness of winter and death, but also the dissolution it causes, among families and community.Jones well portrays the mystery, tenderness and frailty of a family's desperation to escape an incessant cloud-filled sky in favor of a warm blue, most suited to the flight of their balloons. While central character Thaddeus is somewhat one-dimensional in his love for his daughter, Jones introduces several interesting characters to confuse the reader as to whether there is even a villain in this story. The shadowy Solution, a conglomerate of those willing to aid in the destruction of February, are always on the periphery and equally cryptic as the shaggy February itself. The psychology of humanity is the resonating beacon here; Jones writes of humans who are quick to act, but of those above who are too slow to be forced into their own movement. The stagnation of winter, February, affects everyone.Jones has written a very ethereal, cryptic and melancholy novella in Light Boxes. The surrealism is not always fully realized when addressing the development of the characters, especially being such a brief work, but it is artfully crafted and extremely thoughtful.
blakefraina on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Based on the Edward Gorey-esque cover illustration, the back cover copy and it¿s slender profile, I thought Shane Jones¿s Light Boxes was going to be a quirky, whimsical allegory. But this is no children¿s tale. As a matter of fact, despite its modest length, it¿s packed with so many agonizing moments, I found it difficult to get through quickly. This strange fantasia tells the story of a town being punished by an unseen God-like figure for their love of flying (kites, balloons, even the local birds), which is surely a metaphor for the freedom and joy inherent in the creative urge. The despot sentences them to live eternally in the bleak month that happens to share his name - February. As the month¿s frigid days drag on into the hundreds, children begin to disappear or turn up dead and several disastrous attempts at revolt only deepen the townsfolk¿s suffering and leave them in state of black despair. February itself symbolizes the soul-sucking effects of depression on creativity.The publisher employs some rather precious gimmickry to get the author¿s point across; most notably changes in typeface and font size to indicate the various different points of view, tones of voice or the relative significance of a particular passage. While I personally found this effective and appealing, other readers might be annoyed by it. Most of the characters are mere sketches, but Jones¿s prose is evocative enough that I was able to build on them in my imagination as if I was fleshing out a hazy dream. Which is really what this novel most resembles. A gorgeously atmospheric dream that one has to surrender to in order to enjoy its full impact.While the material is pretty surreal, I still felt emotionally invested in the struggles of these people and was worn out by their repeated failure to bring back Spring, so I was surprised by the almost childlike simplicity to their long-awaited salvation. Jones is perhaps suggesting that we are ultimately the architects of our own happiness. Much like Dorothy¿s escape from Oz, the power to overcome the bleakest sorrow has been inside us all along.
HeikeM on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a puzzling little book, but it is also quite, quite wonderful. Reading it I felt it was more poetry than novel - maybe a poetic novel? Or a prosaic poem? Whatever - it is amazing. A very strange story though - February has taken over the town and is stealing the children. After 300 days of darkness and snow the citizens are declaring war. Holes in the sky, a girl that smells of honey and smoke, the Solution - men in bird-masks - the ban on all things flying and the constant snow, it makes indeed for strange reading, but the prose is so beautifully crafted and the story very absorbing that soon you are drawn into the township and hope and feel and suffer with the people within it. I read it in an hour, but still, it's worth having. A little gem in my library.
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Mooseman_Cometh More than 1 year ago
I enjoy the atmosphere created by this book through the clever use of language and unique characters. At the end of the day, this is a light fun read. There isn't necessarily a point to it. Think of it as a literacy equivalent to eating ice cream: the best part is how it feels and taste while you're consuming it, but when it's over, you don't need to feel like you learned anything at all.
Janus More than 1 year ago
'Light Boxes' is certainly not a bad book, but it has been the disappointment of the year for me so far. I discovered this book while researching one of my new favorites, 'The Lost Books of the Odyssey'. The cover drew me in and the premise convinced me I would like it. Also learning that Spike Jonze was going to make it into a movie piqued my interest even more. The problem with this story is that it feels like a really short little fairytale that has been contrived into a 160 page book. The whole thing feels unnatural. As far as the writing style goes, it is abrupt, unique, but still engaging enough. That's not the problem. The problem is the story itself just does not warrant being as long as is is. The plot is very disjointed and don't look for very much to make sense. Characters seemed to simply exist, motivation was given to some of their actions but due to the writing style it was difficult to feel too convinced. I sometimes got the sense that Jones was being weird just for weirdness sake. It's certainly a commendable first effort from a very promising author, but 'Light Boxes' never quite delivers.