Friday, September 2, 2011

Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson

Available from Carolrhoda Lab
"...there they were: Three stars, bright as a promise. But instead of giving of the crystal wind-chime noise that had soothed me since childhood, they sang an eerie, piercing harmony unlike anything I'd heard before. And their colors were strange too. The first star burned blue neon, the second electric green, and the third...
     I ransacked my vocabulary, trying to put a name to that elusive hue, and failed. It wasn't red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, or violet or any of the million variation in between. It was something entirely new, a color beyond ordinary perception."

Ultraviolet makes the familiar strange and the strange familiar. 

Synesthesia is a condition where the senses we ordinarily understand to be discrete are mingled. A stimulus, the sound of clinking glasses, might be an auditory experience with an overlay of color or a clear "taste."  Alison is a synesthete, she hears stars and sees the sound of a zipper. Ultraviolet is her story, and it is a very strange one. Her experience of the world is radically different than that of those around her. She is aware she is not "normal." She fears she is crazy. 

While telling Alison's story, R. J. Anderson probes issues of difference and acceptance. She also blows the lid off the universe and our comfortable confidence in what we "know." If you see the ending coming, you have more developed literary spidey senses than I do, that's for sure.

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