My father is a professional storyteller. I mean that in the literal sense: he travels throughout eastern Ontario and western Quebec, stopping in schools, art centres and museums, to tell his stories. Most of his stories are told in French and can be traced back to the days when lumberjacks would trade tales around a campfire after a hard day's labour.
For my sister and me, these were our bedtime stories. Every night, for a half hour to an hour before lights out, we would be transported to rambling palaces and murky swamps, to the lands of murderous giants and talking unicorns.
Through my father, I learned that stories were to be shared, did not need to be rooted in the real world, and could be changed, altered or entirely made up. Stories exist because we love them and we need them.
Claude Lalumière's beautiful Door to Lost Pages harkens back to that structured chaos, to the kind of story that begged to be told, demanded to be told, even before the first syllable was either uttered or scrawled. It is about myth and dreams and how each must be shared.
More specifically (or generally?), The Door to Lost Pages is a love letter to books, book shops, and book sellers. Every book shop is a door to lost pages, to unending possibilities and undiscovered potential, but, likewise, every book is itself a door to unknown knowledge and structured chaos.
Upon deciding to write this review, I struggled in deciding whether or not to include a plot synopsis and, in the end, I decided against. The Door to Lost Pages isn't about plot (though it has one). It's about all those things mentioned above and more. Let me just say this: The Door to Lost Pages is a series of dark, erotic, urban fairy tales strung together like beads (beads of bone? beads of sweat?) on a necklace with a tiny, cluttered book shop as its clasp.
The Door to Lost Pages is worth reading if only because it will remind you of what it was to be a chid discovering new worlds through stories--the excitement, the terror--while never letting you forget that that sense of excitement, that fear is still--and will always be--with you.
Note: I should also mention that The Door to Lost Pages is a physically beautiful book. The people at ChiZine Publications have done a wonderful job. The stock is heavier, the ink crisp. The cover is subtly embossed, highlighting Erik Mohr's kaleidoscopic art and Corey Beep's design.