I wrote this post back in September of 2013 for a Classics Club meme. The question was: “Rereading a favourite classic at different stages of your life gives you different insights with each reading. Is there one classic you’ve read several times that also tells a story about you?”
Their club is all about reading the classics, which I decided has to include the classics of sci fi and fantasy right alongside Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. (Confessions: I really don’t like or understand the hype surrounding Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights spent a short time as my favorite book of all time.) I plan on spending a lot of time raving about my love for Walter Moer’s novels, and it seemed like a good place to start doing so. Talley ho.
So Rumo might not be a classic in the classical sense, but damn it, someday it will be because Walter Moers is a fucking genius and all of his novels are made of pure gold. Of that weird black stuff everybody is fighting over in Avatar. Of fucking magic.
Walter Moers is the fantasy author I would have been obsessed with my entire life if only I’d ever heard of him. His American publisher must suck at advertising. How could a scifi/fantasy/etc book geek, friend to librarians and other book geeks, reader of many book blogs, former bookstore employee, and holder of a BA in Literature never have heard of this man?! How come my librarian and book geek friends have never heard of him? What kind of world do we live in?!
If you would care to step up to the VCR of my life, we will rewind back eight years. Look at me, in a white fucking suit (can you believe I once owned such a thing?) , getting off the plane in Germany. Watch as I settle into my host family’s five-story villa. Oh, and there I am asking the oldest son to recommend some German fantasy. There he is, handing me his copy of Rumo.
Rumo is an epic journey, an epic love story, an epic tragedy, an epic fucking everything. It contains the fictional villian I would most hate to meet. (Just thinking about General Tick Tack gives me a stomach ache.) The main character is a, umm, you know what, I am not even going to start explaining that because my words will make it sound cheesey. Just please, please, I’m begging you, go buy a copy right now. The characters may all be strange creatures who live on a continent called Zamonien, but even if you don’t usually read this sort of thing, just…oh my god…the story, the story!
But this isn’t what I wanted to tell you. I wanted to tell you about how Rumo has been with me since I arrived in Germany, measuring my German skills like that paper yardstick your mom taped to the wall to measure your height as you grew up.
After that sixteen-year-old boy handed me Rumo, I took it upstairs to my room. I can see its red cover laying on the small white table I used as a desk. I made it through several pages. During the reading of those several pages, which took as many weeks, I probably read more pages of the German-English dictionary than of Moers’ prose. (You’ve probably figured out by now that it was in German.) I gave up. I returned the book.
When I met my partner-husbandy-person, he was (well, some vaguely remembered time later) reading Walter Moers. The Adventures of Captain Blue Bear, if memory serves me, which it probably doesn’t. He said it was good. I read it. It was really good. (Even though Moers lets his crazy list obsession run wild on its pages.) Then I read Rumo. I read it and I read it and I read it. Nothing has made more obvious my progress with the German language. Though it isn’t, now that I’ve read everything, my favorite Moers book (that honor belongs to The City of Dreaming Books), it is the one that gave me a high five and said, damn girl, you’ve sure learned a lot these last four years.
So tell me readers, what books tell a story about you?