Walter Moers is my favourite author. I’m totally besotted with his works. He’s made it hard to enjoy other authors. I always had trouble finding books which were more than OK, but since Moers, it’s got worse. I’ve read his books too fast in spite of the promise I made to myself to make them last. It’s not as if there were many books in this vein out there. He’s been compared to Terry Pratchett and this guy who wrote “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, which I couldn’t read past the third page, but I totally disagree. I searched and searched and to this day, Moers is quite unique, he’s a category unto himself. He is so inventive, so creative, daring and thought-provoking that I don’t know any other writer who can truly compete. He’s the best storyteller I’ve ever read. He could talk about anything and it’d still be interesting because his talent is such that his prose flows effortlessly. He has attained the Orm, ” a kind of mysterious force reputed to flow through many authors at moments of supreme inspiration”.
His books are so multidimensional and are meant to be experienced, they abound in descriptions of music, smells and tastes. He could make you believe anything. I love authors who call on the powers of your own imagination. He made me believe that a manuscript which at no point got quoted was indeed the best piece of literature just by describing the impact it had on the main character while reading it. Moers is a sorcerer.
Although I must warn you, many people don’t “get it”. I guess it must be a very personal thing. Not everybody likes Moers’ lengthy descriptions. Personally, I enjoy every bit of it. I just sit back and read on in no hurry.
So far, five books in the Zamonia series have been translated to English.
I’ve read all of them once and the first three twice. Now, I’ve just started reading the fourth one again, I’m reading it slowly, just a little at the time. Because it’s so rich, a little can last me a while. I won’t waste one drop of this precious elixir. And every time I close the book again, I hug it just to say thank you.
Now, a few excerpts from his books:
“Can you keep a secret?”
“Of course” Echo said hurriedly.
“Good. You wouldn’t like to hear what would happen if you blabbed.”
Izanuela subjected him to a long, piercing stare and he felt genuinely scared of her for the first time. Her eyes were incandescent with the millennial power og Ugglyism. He grew terribly cold, as if a giant shadow had engulfed him, and for one brief moment he thought he heard the weird music that had assailed his ears the first time he set eyes on her house. Her gaze was like an unspoken threat, a curse. He shivered.
Then the light in her eyes went out.
“These trees existed many thousands of years before Malaisea was founded”, she continued, squinting good-naturedly now. “Only the Ugglies realised that they were habitable, and they were also the only living creatures the trees would accept as tenants. The Ugglian oaks came to look more and more like houses as the centuries went by, until no one would have guessed they were really plants. The town of Malaisea grew up around the Ugglies’ colony, but they kept the secret to themselves and passed it on from generation to generation.”
The eyes in the roots slowly closed as if the tree were going to sleep.
“Living inside living plants isn’t a bed of roses, believe you me. They have their idiosyncrasies, their moods, their quirks, their habits. You have to be able to put up with them or you’d go mad. Things are in a constant state of flux. Walls become displaced, windows close up, roots suddenly appear where there weren’t any before – you trip over them and fall flat on your face. This tree also hums to itself at night, that’s why I wear earplugs”.
Echo looked around nervously. It wasn’t a very reassuring sensation being inside a living creature – it was like being swallowed by a giant. He now understood his instinctive fear of the Ugglies’ houses.
“Don’t be frightened”, Izanuela told him soothingly. “It’s thoroughly good-natured. At least, I’ve never known it to lose its temper.”
And another one:
“It was all too much for me. I felt a hot liquid well up inside my head. My eyes, my mouth and nose became filled with it, and my only recourse was to yield to this internal pressure : I wept. I wept for the first time in my life! Fat, salty tears plopped onto my fur, my nose ran like a tap, my whole body shook in time to my sobs. Everything else was secondary now. The encircling Hobgoblins, the darkness, the fear – all were subordinate to this mighty outburst of emotion. I wept and sobbed, stamped my little hind paws, bawled at the top of my voice. Like two miniature cataracts, the tears continued to stream down my fur until I resembled a wet floor cloth. I broke down completely.
Then calm descended. My tears dried up, my sobs subsided. A reassuring sensation of warmth and weariness overcame me. My fear had vanished. I even plucked up enough courage to raise my head and look the Hobgoblins in the face. They were hovering around me in a semicircle, six or seven flickering figures outlined in ghostly light, their arms and legs dangling limply like uninflated inner tubes. They stared at me in silence for a while, almost touched. Then they started to applaud.”
And another one:
” General Tick Tock had taken three days to get the Metal Maiden perfectly adjusted. Every vein, nerve and sinew had to be run in. Where the extracts flowing in the correct quantities? Was the liver functioning properly? The heart, the kidneys? Were the valves in order, the tubes unobstructed?
He began by injecting only the simplest substances as a means of checking Rala’s vital organs : saline, glucose solution, caffeine, vegetable extracts, nutrients, harmless stimulants. In accordance to his instructions, the physicians had fitted the Metal Maiden with instruments for measuring its occupant’s heartbeat, body temperature and respiration, but Tick Tock’s favourite toy was a calibrated dial that combined all these readings and showed, as a percentage, how much life still remained in his victims. If the needle registered a hundred they were very much alive and in the best of health; if zero, they were dead. The general had christened this instrument his thanatometer, or death meter.”
And a last one:
“Only a handful of true artists attain the Orm. That’s a great privilege in itself, but very few of them know the Alphabet of the Stars. They’re the elite. Master it, and you can, if you’ve attained the Orm, communicate there with all the artistic forces in the universe. You can learn things whose existence you would never have suspected in your wildest dreams.”