Contented Reader

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At the Mouth of the River of Bees

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At the Mouth of the River of Bees

Kij Johnson

Small Beer Press

I’m sitting down to write about this book, and I’m not sure what to say.  Closing it, I feel like I’ve just woken up from a strange dream I can’t quite remember.  The idea of saying something like ‘Kij Johnson is an amazingly good writer, whose every sentence seems like a tiny poem’ is absurd.  Who am I to presume to try to describe Johnson’s writing?

So I’ll just share some of it, instead.

At a time now past, a cat was born.  This was not so long after the first cats came to Japan, so they were rare and mostly lived near the capital city.

This cat was the smallest of her litter of four.  Her fur had been dark when she was born but as she grew it changed to black with speckles of gold and cinnamon and ivory.  She had a little gold-colored chin, and her eyes were gold, like a fox’s.

She lived in the gardens of a great house in the capital.  They filled a city block and the house had been very fine once but that was many years ago.  The owners moved to a new home in a more important part of the city, and left the house to suffer fires and droughts and earthquakes and neglect.  Now there was very little left that a person might think of as home.  The main house still stood but the roofs leaked and even had fallen in places.  Furry green moss covered the walls.  Many of the storehouses and other buildings were barely more than piles of wood.  Ivy filled the garden and water weeds choked the three little lakes and the stream.

But it was a perfect home for cats.  The stone wall around the garden kept people and dogs away.  Inside, cats could find ten thousand things to do.  There were trees and walls to climb, bushes to hide under, corners to sleep in.

Food was everywhere.  Delicious mice skittered across the ground and crunchy crickets hopped in the grass.  The stream was full of slow, fat frogs.  Birds lived in the trees and occasionally a careless one came within reach.


Written by Contented Reader

November 1, 2012 at 6:32 am

Posted in Reviews


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