The Door to Lost Pages
Chizine Publications, 2011
Claude Lalumiere’s The Door to Lost Pages is a short novella of interwoven stories patched together to form a fascinating and enthralling pastiche that orbits in and around a bookshop known as Lost Pages. It offers brief snippets of the worlds and mythologies housed in the mysterious bookshop and gives readers a tiny taste of the lives and souls of the people who have encountered its book lined, dog filled interior. The novella doesn’t really offer a standard plot structure, though there is an overarching story to a certain extant, instead examining how the lives of everyday people are affected in startling ways by the smallest things.
I should say to start that if you are a fan of books, if you’ve ever willing explored the dusty corners of bookshops and libraries for no other reason than the shear joy of it, you should stop reading this and go grab a copy of The Door to Lost Pages. Likewise, if you have ever been enchanted by the interwoven mythologies with a fictional world, particularly if you’ve enjoyed Mythos tales so often linked by the arcane text of a certain mad arab, you should go grab a copy of The Door to Lost Pages. If, as a child, you have ever been transported by a book to somewhere else, either as an escape from something or just as an exercise of imagination, you should go grab a copy of The Door to Lost Pages.
For me the story that enchanted me the most, that resonated most deeply, was that of young Lucas. As Lucas himself says, “Looking at me now, you’d think I’d dropped form my mother’s womb right onto a messy pile old, lurid paperbacks and arcane leatherbound tomes. Except in the fourth grade there was an incomplete set of an old battered encyclopedia on told of an old filing cabinet in the back of the classroom” an encyclopedia that “…hinted not only at alternate parts of the world but an altogether different way of apprehending reality.” While there is a more fantastical meaning to that in Lalumiere’s novella it is also a fairly accurate description to how I feel about my earliest encounters with the written word. In Lalumiere’s world books are magic, literally, and he cleverly uses children to convey that pure and unadulterated response to what is written between their pages.
If the books in The Door to Lost Pages are magic and Lost Pages is the place that collects them. It is the repository of things the world has chosen to forget (or ignore) and it exists in a nebulous state across time and worlds. Those things that it collects aren’t just books, they are people too. Aydee, neglected and all but ignored by her drug addicted parents, and Lucas, a bit fey and intelligent drawn to the shadowed corners of the world, are both children who don’t quite fit in the world we know. These two characters who form the foundation of the novella are in many ways themselves lost pages (in the library world the people that shelve books are sometimes called pages, a fact I found amusing and appropriate while reading this book) collected by the book store. Several times throughout the novel either Lucas or Aydee will serve as a means through which a new story is told becoming the means through which the knowledge they steward is shared with the world.
The Door to Lost Pages is 224 page love letter to books and stories. It’s a book about being lost and all the varied meanings that simple word can espouse. It’s about the fear of being lost in an uncaring world and about the wonder of being lost in a sea of knowledge. It is a meaty collection, despite its diminutive size, of lush imagery and stories that are by turns touching and unsettling. If you’re looking for something to read that falls a bit off the beaten path you should definitely take a walk through The Door to Lost Pages.
Note: I’m sorry about that last line, I couldn’t resist, I have self control issues. By way of apology I’ll leave you with the opening lyrics to Audioslave’s “Like a Stone” which The Door to Lost Pages called to mind:
“On a cold, wet afternoon
in a room full of emptiness
by a freeway I confess
I was lost in the pages
of a book full of death
reading how we’ll die alone
and if we’re good we’ll lay to rest
anywhere we want to go.”