By Claude Lalumiere
Publisher: Chizine Publications
Horny gay bird angels, runaways sucking lion teats in alleyways, Freddy Krueger banging your girl, and a hidden bookstore with all the forbidden stuff your parents said no to for the reason of because I said so” and you’re probably still looking for out of a unwarranted sense of a unfulfilled childhood.
The Door to Lost Pages has a slew of the more peculiar ideas in fiction to offer between it’s pages, which is not surprising for a novel published by Chizine Publications, a Torontonian publication responsible for the weirder end of the literary spectrum. It holds up its ideas through some good hearty buildup and at times highly dreamy dialogue, but setting-wise by a mysterious bookstore called Lost Pages, that can only be found by messed up little boys and girls with neglectful parents and sad little lives. Unfortunately Lost Pages is more akin to its odd little store than is healthy and like all old bookstores, is messy and is a bitch to find something specific, namely an overarching plot. Healthy shelf space for chapters related to angels fighting the nightmare hordes that create nightmares sit next to shopkeepers with alternate versions of themselves makes this story a stack of chopped up segments that are in the viewpoint of different characters exploring different aspects of this world. One can imagine Claude was hanging out in his favourite second-hand bookstore, and then banged out a bunch of short stories relating to how he would get lost into its shelves, before squishing them all together and calling it a day.
And he is trying hard to make it a concise story, with a lot of immersive world more than his novella length can handle. At the same time between the nightmare hosts and the angels, is a more handsome Freddy Krueger character called Giovanni who is an agent of the nightmare hosts, then a poorly paid girl in a tattoo parlor and it all comes down to characters being introduced then dumped, and that alternate shopkeeper idea I mentioned earlier? It’s the book’s arc as promised by the back of the book blurb, but it only really starts developing in the second half which is then ditched in the end for a meta-fictional epilogue of Claude working with the Chizine editors to fix up his manuscript and seeing a peep show with two hot lesbians. This epilogue is cute in itself, but ultimately is just the final wrench jammed into the shuddering machine that is different arcs competing with each other, and in the end leaving one waiting for something that doesn’t come, questions unanswered, and somewhat unfulfilled. Makes you wonder if Lost Pages has a shelf for abandoned story arcs.
But while this story is hampered by inconsistent plotting, Chizine never produces bad fiction and you may still find some enjoyment some of the more intense scenes, and if read as a collection of short stories rather than as a single story, the breadth of development within each has just enough to leave you intrigued.
– By a North York Writer