Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Top Ten - 5. Bridge of Birds

I raved about this one in the Authors and Books post, and nothing has changed. I only reread it fairly recently, too. There's just something about it that speaks to me. In the current market it shouldn't work, but it does. A fantasy set in a non existent ancient China about an old fairy tale and it's two main characters are a large and strong, but extremely naive young farm boy and a rascally old scholar, who lies as easily and naturally as most people breathe. It has adventure and humour and there's this sense that somewhere along the line this place really did exist, but you know in your heart of hearts that it didn't.

The other two books that Barry Hughart wrote featuring Number Ten Ox and Master Li were also entertaining, but they just don't have the same sense of wonder that Bridge of Birds evokes in readers. I used to think that maybe he made a mistake in not continuing with another publisher when the original one gave up on the idea, but the reread convinced me that he may have made a wise choice, they were becoming rather formulaic and farcical rather than genuinely comical and whimsical.

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