I have mentioned in several blog posts over the years that Charles de Lint is one of my favorite authors. I read a few of his novels in the early to mid-1990s when he was the big name in fantasy fiction. His contemporary fantasy novels and short stories (set in his fictional city of Newford) breathed fresh air into the genre that had mostly produced Tolkien inspired books. de Lint’s ability to bring magic into the contemporary world made me become a fan of fantasy literature and has inspired me as an author.
I read Memory and Dream when it was first published October 1994 and remembered really enjoying it. It’s interesting to re-read a book over two decades later. I did that with his novel, The Little Country and the short-story collections, Dreams Underfoot and The Ivory and the Horn. Memory and Dream will complete this quartet of re-reads from de Lint.
It is the story of Isabelle Copley, a young artist who lives in the city of Newford. Memory and Dream chronicles her artistic journey from the early 1970s as a university student to the early 1990s as a professional artist. As a university student, Copley learned under famed and reclusive artist, Vincent Rushkin. Rushkin helped Copley with her gift of being able to paint images so vivid that they come to life. However, Isabelle’s gift comes with a price for studying under Rushkin.
Isabelle brought to life artistic images that are called numena and they suffered danger by coming into the real world. Their existence was under threat by Rushkin and Isabelle has to become their savior.
de Lint does an excellent job of writing a story with two timelines and creating a cast of characters I enjoyed reading. Memory and Dream explores the nature of art and its ability to change culture. On the surface, it may seem to be a quixotic pursuit. However, the story shows that art has a greater influence that one could ever expect.
I enjoyed reading Memory and Dream and my initial feelings when I first read it in 1994 returned. It is a page turner, and I had an enjoyable reading experience. It will be one of my favorite reads of 2019.