Christopher, the only bookseller in the small farm town of Low Ferry, lives an uneventful life -- until one day he encounters a shy newcomer named Lucas, and accidentally sells him the wrong book. What follows is a journey for both men, in vastly different ways, set against the strange, ritualistic, magic backdrop of a midwestern winter.
A tale about the masks people wear and a meditation on the power of magic, Nameless revels in the simple pleasure of storytelling.
Nameless is among the genre of novels narrated by a more staid character chasing after a wilder one, but the problem with Nameless is that Christopher doesn't keep up the way Sal or Watson or Nick does -- Christopher's too normal, too cautious, too afraid. As far as wordsmithery goes, "Nameless" is good and Starbuck's extensive writing experience shows. Low Ferry feels real enough that I just spent a few minutes with a map of Illinois, trying to figure out what town he based it on. It's a light and refreshing read without being dull, but it still ends somewhat dissatisfyingly. Its big weakness is its realism -- ironic, perhaps, for a novel that only gently deals with deep magic. The characters that ring the truest are the ones that veer closer to caricature. It's light on action, which is kind of a tragedy, because what there was was great. I wasn't expecting a thriller or anything, but the plot felt like beads on a string -- big moments interspersed with the utterly... More > realistic tedium of marking time as a bachelor merchant in a small town. Narratively, Christopher's too avoidant. The plot would have been better served if Christopher had been a little less cautious and clinically aware of himself and a little more willing to be swept along. "Nameless" is definitely worth reading; it's just too bad that the book ends before I got enough of the world. As a reader, I want to see the road less travelled, but Christopher can't bring himself to risk it.< Less
At first, for all the good writing, I wasn't enamoured with the book at first, or rather, the main character. When he sang out the opening lines to Habanera (of Carmen fame), I was hit with the fleeting thought of another omniglot Mary-sue (Of course, I feel awful of the thought now). However, this as quickly erased, and within a few more pages, I'd warmed rather nicely to Christopher. The community of Low Ferry was very reminiscent of a small community I once lived in myself, so I was quickly surrounded by nostalgia (not a bad thing!). I could go on, but I can only say that the characters felt, acted, and evolved completely naturally, which is hard to find in more than a few books. The only flaw I can see would be... the story feels as if it's rushing through the beginning to get the the meat. Of course, this is relatively speaking as the book reads in a very slice-of-life way. The only other bone I have to pick is the off-hand comment of the townspeople waiting for a storm to break... More > to wash out the humidity. I blame this on my meteorological background, but... Any sort of rain makes it more humid, as the air temperature typically cools, and the water content in the air rises (thus raising humidity). Of course, this is nothing important, just something I laughed about to myself while reading. All in all, the book has a nicely lazy summer day feel to it, leading to a very pleasant over-all reading experience. I certainly recommend it!< Less
A novel you won't regret picking up until it's 4:30 in the morning and you have just finished reading. Nameless transported me to Low Ferry so thoroughly, I'm just a bit confused as to how I got back to New Mexico. Sam sets a dreamy, slow pace that's perfect for the modern fable he presents.
"Nameless" This book has earned a place in the short list of books I will treasure forever. I found myself slowing down at the end because the thought of there being no more story was heartbreaking. The writing is lovely, satisfying. So many books have interesting ideas but are just so badly written that I have to walk away. To find such exquisite writing in a first time author, knowing he has many a book in him. sigh. There's not much better.
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