Tag Archives: Catherynne M Valente

The Past is Red

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Past is Red [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Catherynne M Valente.

Valente The Past is Red

This book reprints the story “The Future Is Blue” from the Drowned Worlds anthology, and follows it with a further novella “The Past Is Red.” The latter was written about four years later for the author Catherynne M. Valente (in late 2020) and ten years later for her protagonist Tetley Abednego (sometime after 2133).

Tetley is an irrepressible survivor and an unreliable narrator who hails from Garbagetown on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, evidently one of the largest of remaining human communities in the 22nd century. The first story accounts for her becoming a hated outcast by age 19, and the second gives the saga by which she matures into a “trash Plato” (138) in her third decade.

The Garbagetowners have an ambivalently hostile envy for their antediluvian ancestors (i.e. us), to whom they consistently refer as “Fuckwits.” In light of the current situation in US society, it’s not hard to read this sentiment as the Millennial/GenX view of Boomers writ large.

Valente herself compares Tetley to Voltaire’s Candide (148), and there’s a little of de Sade’s Justine there as well. But the tone here is not so satirical, and the concerns of the parable are remote from those of the philosophes. The afterword and the acknowledgements claim an independence for Tetley, whom her author has gradually come to know, and the character does have an engaging voice to draw the reader into and through her world, which is enchanting to her, and ultimately, only differently horrible than ours.

The whole book is wonderfully weird but sadly feasible cli-fi that I read in about three sittings: a speedy read and a satisfying one.

The dude don’t see himself as a bad man. Way he sees it, he’s an angel for hire. He can gather in lost lambs from the four corners and kiss away their tears, or he can shake a flaming sword. Up to his employers. Saint Michael don’t question why when the Big Dog says git. Ole Mike, he just ties up his war-bag, thumps his golden road, eats his beans out of the tin, and when he sees his mark, he gets to it no fuss. That’s the dude in a nut.

Catherynne M Valente, Six-Gun Snow White [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Valente Six-Gun Snow White dude bad man angel for hire-

The shimmer of it took after the moon itself, hard and without poetry, stuck in the orbit of the thoughtless earth like a California pearl.

Catherynne M Valente, Six-Gun Snow White

Hermetic quote Valente Six-Gun pearl

The Boy Who Lost Fairyland

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M Valente.

While I wasn’t necessarily expecting this to be the next chronological stage in a linear narrative with the three earlier books of its series, it is. And yet this book is a surprising departure from the earlier ones. It introduces a new protagonist, and makes him a native of Fairyland sojourning in 20th-century Chicago. There is something more exuberant about the prose, and less formulaic about the structure; I definitely preferred it to its immediate predecessor.

Ultimately, though, this book is a shameless piece of propaganda that will doubtless serve to recruit children into the subversive ranks of otherkin.

As with the others, I read this one aloud to my (now 11-year-old) daughter. She was especially taken with Blunderbuss the Wombat. [via]