About a year ago, I read a review of Shane Jones’s Light Boxes at the hipster book club. I was intrigued, but unable to find the book at any of the zillions of libraries around here (I’m a poor grad student, so unless I can read it at the store on my lunch break, snag an ARC, or can get it from the library, I very rarely actually buy books.). I walked into the store on Tuesday morning after a week and a half off, and staring me in the face atop the new paperback table was this book. It's been republished by Penguin! And how cool is the new Penguin cover? I immediately snatched it up and devoured the first twenty pages or so while I was supposed to be tending to the cash register. Hey, it was a quiet morning, save for the ocassional sixty-something lady wanting to purchase the latest Steig Larrson. It wasn’t like I was shirking any responsibilities.Light Boxes
is something of a fable, in which the Thaddeus Lowe, his wife Selah, daughter Bianca, and neighbors are in the throes of an unending February. In Jones’s world, though, February is not just a month, but a godlike spirit who, with the help of the girl who smells like honey and smoke, kidnaps the town’s children and outlaws flight. Depressed and desperate, Thaddeus joins up with six men in bird masks who are leading the War Effort to put an end to nearly three years of winter.
It might sound strange. And it is, a little. Jones tells his story through a constantly shifting narrative voice to tell his story, alternating between Thaddeus, Bianca, several of the townsmen, the birdmen, February and Ms. Honey and Smoke. Jones also uses a variety of fonts and paragraph styles to help tell his story. Bianaca whispers in miniature font, whereas Smoke and Honey gets a much bolder, thicker font (Georgia, perhaps? I’m not really a font person). Some pages contain only a sentence or two. But, holy goodness, do those sentences pack a punch.
Jones’s prose will never be described as “lush,” but he so eloquently manages to capture the irrational and despairing state of mind of his characters. Unique, creative, and fascinating, I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in atypical methods of storytelling.