Urban Green Man
Edited and illustrated by Adria Laycraft & Janice Blaine,
Introduction by Charles de Lint
Edge, 2013, $14.95, 264pp
Release Date: June 28, 2013
These 31 stories and poems about the spirit of the wild wood, be it Green Man or Green Woman in urban settings are fabulously illustrated, and cover a wide range of imagination. While many of them express a degree of anger at the extent of nature’s plight, some of them take unusual tacks and go in surprising directions. A variety of legends and myths make their way into these stories, so while there is a unifying there, there is remarkable diversity in the story-telling. And since the subject matter is so close at hand, and the issues at stake are literally ones of life and death, this collection has considerable heft to it. The faces reflected in these stories are so palpably our own.
Some of my favorites are: “Buried in the Green” by Heather M. O’Connor, in part because it reminded me of the Joan Aiken stories I grew up reading: a little macabre, a bit wistful, wryly humorous; Nu Yang’s “The Ring of Life” which movingly deals with aging, death, memory, and the passing of tradition; “Neither Slumber Nor Sleep” by Kim Goldberg, quite possibly the funniest golem story ever told; “Abandon All …” by Goldeen Ogawa for its sublime paradigm shift; and Satyros Phil Brucato’s splendid “Johnny Serious” for how it starts: “Once, there was a boy with a hole in his heart. All the joy ran out of that hole, and all the sadness of the world seeped in…” and for every word and image through to the end.
Others I appreciated for the wealth of lore or fact they contained: “Waking the Holly Kin” by Eileen Donaldson and “Green Man She Restless” by Billie Milholland, for example. There are also love stories as well as tales of terror and horror. If these stories do their work, they will act like the snakes that licked the ears of Menelaus so clean that ever afterward he could understand the speech of animals: attuning readers to the voice of Green Man, the song of Green Woman. What story will you hear? ~~ Chris R. Paige