The Pedant and the Shuffly Paperback – Apr 2001
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From the Inside Flap
John Bellairs was a one-of-a-kind writer, and The Pedant and the Shuffly is a one-of-a-kind book. John Bellairs was a truly erudite man, able to make wicked fun of meaningless erudition, and his unique wit romps through every page of this book, whether you understand Latin, logic, linguistics, logorrhea or not. To read it is to realize what a loss his death was--not simply to fantasy, or to children's literature, but to the English language, and to the art of storytelling, which he served so well in the short time he had. I'm truly grateful to have any of John Bellairs's books back in print. Especially this one. --Peter S. Beagle
"There arose a sound like 10,000 bouzoukis, and from the four known points of the compass Flimsies came rustling, turning the night sky into a gravy-stained wonder of whiteness."
Child or adult, who would not thrill to the cockeyed poesy of that image? Kids who love wonderful, weird, and wacky stories will snicker happily over Snodrog's misadventures. Adults who adore James Thurber at his best, who have whispered Edward Gorey quotes to other adults In The Know, will welcome this superb reprint from the Mythopoeic Press. Read it to yourself, or better yet, read it aloud. It's entrancing.--Sherwood Smith
About the Author
John Bellairs, 1938-1991. Author of many books for children and young adults, including The Face in the Frost and The House with a Clock in Its Walls.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
'One light was burning in the great central tower of the hall, and out of the half-opened casement roaring organ music trickled. Sir Bertram immediately recognized the piece as Buxtehude's Festival Fanfare for organ, tympani, and tuned bass cannon.'
Sir Bertram Crabtree-Gore, a wandering sorcerer, wanders into the Flapping Forest (as it was known) and encounters the perils therein (namely a nasty sorcerer who attacks everyone he meets with sophistry & proves they don't exist, thus turning them into stained linen napkins). Apparently wearing a Hawaiian shirt, he must brave gothic mansions and mad organists to find a Shuffly to combat the monstrous horde of napkins.
If you like Avram Davidson, you'll probably like John Bellairs. He's just as erudite and funny, even if his later children's books are more dilute. They both like referring to the classics. Bellairs makes fun of the cliches of fantasy even more than in The Face in the Frost (which, when it isn't hilarious, is scary and wondersome - this book has just got the hilarious part). It's not just some mild, watery parody though, it's a really fun story. The author especially likes poking fun at stylistic cliches here. Later on he likes small, precise, somewhat anachronistic details to add absurdity and colour, but he used them here first.
'The spectral shape grew, and it soon presented (to the trained eye) the outline of a 1912 Haynes-Atkinson Structureless Inflatable Biplane.'
It's short, it's very funny, and you want to read it.
"The Pedant and the Shuffly" is a cool enough title on its own, but it frames a very unusual and witty short fantasy. The premise is simple: Snodrog (don't laugh) an evil magician, uses cold logic to entrap and transform his victims into Flimsies (don't laugh). But soon, Wodehousian-named Sir Bertram Crabtree-Gore, a good magician, teams up with a Shuffly (don't laugh), and Snodrog soon has a worthy opponent(s)...
Bellairs' starkly descriptive prose is as good in this book as it is in his famed chillers and "Face in the Frost." Though this book is unusually short (about half the regular for his books) and relatively simple in plot, it is laced with witty satire in logic and Latin.
Kids will enjoy the cute plot. Adults will enjoy the witty undertones. Both will enjoy "Pedant and the Shuffly"!