Thumbs up for Speak Easy by Catherynne M. Valente. Fantasy.
A retelling of the fairytale “The Twelve Dancing Princess” set in the 1920’s. I don’t know if my ignorance of the original added to or subtracted from the pleasure I had reading this book. If it subtracted, it wasn’t much. This is one of those stories in which the glory is in the telling: it defines “luscious.” If you like prose as juicy as peaches, you’ll love this.
All her husband’s animals made her sneeze—Mr. Slake up there started the policy on pets in Artemesia apartments. First it was a Mongolian hunting eagle by the name of Ogedei, who naturally had to have his own bedroom. Honestly, woman, do you expect a bird like that to sleep in a coop on the roof like an idiot pigeon? Then she had to suffer a couple of red foxes relaxifying on the fainting couch, and later in Little Cass’s bed. Then came the peacock and the bobcat and the baby black bear—but once Gogol the jaguar moved in, Pearl threw a fit you could hear in Harlem. The great diaspora. You know what happened to that sweet little bear. He kept growling I love you I love you back at Pearl the whole way up to the roof and she wanted to give in but she just couldn’t do it. A trombonist took in the flamingos. A raggedy lion, already paid for but not yet landed, was quietly re-routed to Caspar’s buddy Wiley Hatchett down on five, where he let the girls practice taming him if they asked nicely. Caspar’s three seals ended up in the lobby fountain, splashing around and barking at the buttresses. But Pearl was stuck with Ogedei, and Gogol, and the foxes, who loved Little Cass like a chicken bone. The kidlet named them Boo and Roo. Caspar plumped for Hannibal and Hasdrubal, but his boy didn’t care and couldn’t say those damn words anyhow.
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