Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Trailer Park Tuesday: The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

Welcome to Trailer Park Tuesday, a showcase of new book trailers and, in a few cases, previews of book-related movies.

The trailer for Erika Swyler's debut novel, The Book of Speculation, is beautiful but initially puzzling: an animated oil painting shows, in rapid succession, a book opening, a hand dealing some cards, a girl falling into the ocean and presumably drowning (only to resurface), a house on a cliff crumbling into the sea, and a horseshoe crab washing up on shore. What looks like swirls of paint, fluidly shifting between images, are lovely to look at--like a Van Gogh come to life--but what does it all mean? Ah, but once we turn to a plot description of The Book of Speculation, the trailer begins to make sense:
Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone in a house that is slowly crumbling toward the Long Island Sound. His parents are long dead. His mother, a circus mermaid who made her living by holding her breath, drowned in the very water his house overlooks. His younger sister, Enola, ran off six years ago and now reads tarot cards for a traveling carnival. One June day, an old book arrives on Simon's doorstep, sent by an antiquarian bookseller who purchased it on speculation. Fragile and water-damaged, the book is a log from the owner of a traveling carnival in the 1700s, who reports strange and magical things, including the drowning death of a circus mermaid. Since then, generations of "mermaids" in Simon's family have drowned--always on July 24, which is only weeks away.
The animation in the trailer is actually clay-on-glass media done by Lynn Tomlinson and it is, as I think I've said more than once, a gift to the eyes. Book trailers (or movie trailers, for that matter) don't always have to reveal themselves fully upon first watching. I like the way this one teases us, licks at our imaginations, and eventually leads us to explore the pages of Swyler's novel.

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