In this brief, magnificent story, in which a unicorn gives birth in a hollow on the scraggly farm of a misanthropic Calabrian poet, legendary fantasy author Beagle displays his unmatched facility with the nuances of language and the juxtaposition of the timeless and fantastical with the modern and mundane. Each word is precisely chosen and placed for vivid effect, the story soaked with unabashed emotion and strewn with Technicolor set pieces.
Photo: Rina Weisman
The German language site PHANTÁSIENREISEN praises the novel.
All that would be enough material for a wonderful novel. But Peter S. Beagle does not stop there. By the way, he also tells us a story of loss and family, of remembering and letting go. On top of that, he packs a love story, which, though becoming obvious, but never intrusive, and a threat from the mafia. Granted, that sounds crazy and somehow too much. In fact, all this works together but surprisingly well, because Peter S. Beagle has managed to naturally interweave and tell these very different topics together.
Throughout the novel, Peter S. Beagle also succeeds in expressing itself in a few words. Information, adjectives and explanations are handled sparingly in the book, which is only 174 pages long. Only what is necessary at this moment for action is pronounced. Emotions, fears, longings, interpersonal relationships – all the things that are usually hard to describe in words, Peter S. Beagle tells us between the lines. What we need to know to understand the characters, we learn through looks, touch, hesitation, the unspoken and small steps. For a long time now, I have not read a book that narrates its story in such a subtle, unplacative way, which picks up its readers and allows them to freely explore their world instead of giving them a rigid frame without imaginary, showcase interpretational freedom. A very soothing read.
With IN CALABRIA, Peter S. Beagle has not simply presented yet another story about unicorns, but a resonant story about being human, about our society, about loving and failing, about responsibility and respect for ourselves and the world around us.
Translation from German courtesy of Google
For more info about IN CALABRIA, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover design by Elizabeth Story