Salamander: The Infinite Book

She opened the book again, this time at the beginning. Several pages, she could not tell how many, slipped between her thumb and the inside front cover. Try as she might, she could not reach the very first page, if there was one. The first few leaves, impossibly thin, evaded her blunt fingers.

She felt a surge of panic and shut the book. A dizzying fear had come over her that in the few moments she had been reading time had raced on past her in the real world: days, months, years… Footsteps clumping across the planks overhead told her that the others were still aboard, getting ready for the day.

She would join them, but not yet. Not yet.

She opened the book again and riffled through, stopping here and there at random.

A minute description of someone’s right ear, of the surprising contents of an iron chest buried in a sandbank beside the Orinoco River, of rain dripping from flower petals in a forest at night…

She skipped from place to place. Was there any order to all of this?

Reams of baffling hieroglyphics. A description of the contents of another infinite book. A roster of forgotten lovers. A primer on how to read hieroglyphics…

Her question was answered by a voice speaking out of her memory. You could ask the same thing of the universe.

Gently she closed the book on itself, almost certain she could hear, like the scratching of insects, its pages still turning.

β€”Thomas Wharton, Salamander

There is more (naturally, being an infinite book) but I will let you discover it. If you believe in the magic of books, this one is for you. The acknowledgements reference a book that does not seem to exist, and also thanks Borges, saying, “The novel that he never wrote was also a great inspiration.” I think that gives you an idea of what we are dealing with here. Throw in some mysteries of the East (Near and Far), pirates, romance, technology, folk tales, and a dollop of madness, and you have a thrilling story to go along with the impossible book at the center of Salamander‘s universe. This is one I’ll be reading again.

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4 comments on “Salamander: The Infinite Book

  1. Stefanie says:

    I bought a secondhand copy of this book a few years ago but haven’t gotten around to reading it. Clearly I need to, it sounds marvelous!

    • Sylvia says:

      I’m not surprised this book found its way to you. πŸ˜‰ Yes, do read it, you will find it a real treat. I think it would be a good read for the holidays, when you want a bit of magic. πŸ™‚

  2. Fay says:

    Sounds like a good change of pace. As you say, perhaps a good book for the holidays.

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