"Spangle" - Gary Jennings (1987)
Hardcover, 978 pages
This is another epic piece of historical fiction from one of the best...Gary Jennings. This time taking us through all the ins and outs and the goings-on of an up and coming circus in the late 19th century. Shortly after Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox, a couple of wandering soldiers decide to throw in with Florian’s Flourishing Florilegium of Wonder Circus. And from there we commence on an amazing journey that takes us through the South and across the big waters into Europe.
Along the way, there are a variety of perversions to chew on, as well as violence in various shapes and sizes. But of course, there is, because that is one of Jennings' familiar trademarks. Nudging the reader into the uncomfortable. His left-field surprises. But around all these shenanigans, Jennings provides us with an absolutely wonderful detailed education in circus survival. Plus we're introduced to an eclectic group of circus people and the crowds of curios who are starving for entertainment. The strategy of keeping one step ahead and two steps afloat as they venture from one town and show to another is fascinating. Expect the unexpected. All this while Jennings seamlessly introduces historical information and description. At times, like watercolors on canvas. This isn't my favorite Gary Jennings novel. “The Journeyer” and “Aztec” and, of course, one can't forget “Raptor”...still hold a higher place on the shelf. At 900+ pages, "Spangle" is a commitment, for sure, but it's still one worth getting lost in.
"Show Me The Way" - Nektar / "Down To Earth" (1974)
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