Thursday, December 08, 2005

"Cosmology of the Wider World" by Jeffrey Ford

I just finished Cosmology of the Wider World by Jeffrey Ford. It's terrific.
The book is about a minotaur, Belius, born to human parents. The book starts in the present day, Belius is living in the Wider World, a place only animals have access to. Belius lives in a coral tower where he writes his book, "The Cosmology of the Wider World." But something is missing from his life and he asks his friends for advice. As Belius' problems play out, we get glimpses of his past and how he got to the Wider World.
The book plays off ideas from Dante, "Frankenstein" and mythology, as well as the frailties of any outsider. The story is beautiful, sad, outrageous and just overall wonderful. I can't recommend it enough.
Ford has mentioned in other places that the Cosmology is part of a larger work he has been playing with over the years. In reading the book, one can see how more stories can be told about Belius and his friends. I hope Ford decides to put more of those stories out there.
And by the way, where does Ford come up with these names? He has a genius for naming characters. In this book alone there's Belius, Pezimote, Vashti, Thip, Scarfinati and Nona. He's created character names like Piambo, Cley and Drachton Below (my personal favorite). Even when he takes real names he uses them in weird ways, Antony Cleopatra as a guy. It's just one of the smaller things that makes Ford's work so terrific.
Now I'm waiting for "The Empire of Ice Cream," Ford's latest short story collection, due out next year. I've read most of the stories in the book and I can't wait to reread them, as well as the new story.

No comments: