The Endless Bookshelf : simply messing about in books





December 2013

Buchnarr, 1494. Ware! Ware! Ware the Book-Fool!


17 & 30 December 2013

That Time of Year : Best Book of 2013

— Greer Gilman. Cry Murder! in a Small Voice. Small Beer Press, [2013]. vi, 53, [5] pp. Jacobean crime tale in dazzling prose style. The Best Book of 2013.

The tale is swiftly told : a rich peer —  evil and depraved, if words still have meaning —  took his pleasure in killing little boys ; a drunken poet, grieving, went down these mean alleys to end this wrong, with the help of a boy who knew one of the victims. But this is not all, this is almost nothing : for Gilman’s gesture and language — the dance of paper figures, and an orange offered in winter —  are magic. Read carefully, taste the words upon the tongue. Not everything is what it seems.

What is a story but the dance of words ? Greer Gilman’s language is always demanding : even short declarative sentences resonate with layers of meaning. The longer cadences are nimble, tricky on the tongue and in that place in the brain where deliberate allusions * float like wisps of smoke on a winter morning or snap as flags in a furious gale. It is hugely ambitious to encode so much of the Elizabethan theater into a murder mystery staged upon the hinge of the modern world. That Gilman accomplishes this tale within the space of fifty-two pages is brilliant, contrar