There is magic in the city. The same cannot be said for the book The Fairytale Chicago. The novel begins with a short prologue of our protagonist, Richard K. Lyons, when he was a mere boy with just a twinkle in his eye. A boy who learns of magic from a whiskey swigging old man. The old man tells Rich, as he is known then, to “be careful, because in the city of wind, a twinkle may blow out. The wind here, it twirls and sings like a music-box ballerina. It plays tricks and tells stories like an old-man magician. Like me, like this…” The old man’s warning about the wind is also the perfect summary of the book itself. As one should take heed when diving into the tale of what became of Rich the boy, his night with a girl named Francesca Finnegan, and Richard K. Lyons, Vice President of something.
However, Steve Wiley’s irreverent and peculiar adult fairytale is not without a twinkle. Often bringing to mind the adventures of Alice during her travels through Wonderland. Rich’s travels through the city via the Lavender Line are just as colorful and filled with even more bizarre and baffling character. Such as Templeton Goodfellow – a slightly ne’er-do-well, alcoholic elf who “deposits spirits into spirits and is responsible for the foul taste of Malört. – Adding even more whimsy to Templeton is that he is the lesser known brother of Shakespeare’s Puck.
Mischievous, drunken elves aside, the twinkle of this tale is often blown out by the cynicism and obscenities added to ensure to the reader that this is definitely not a children’s book. While the disenchantment found in Richard K. Lyons is wonderfully described, I couldn’t help but wonder if the author had his own world-weary distaste – almost a hatred – toward all Vice Presidents of something, LinkedIn, and for some unknown reason the Brown Line. In addition, having Francesca Finnegan tell Rich that “You’ll suck my dick before I have so much as a sniff of that!” felt less like a natural thing for this strange pixie of a girl to say and more there for mere shock value.
That said, The Fairytale of Chicago is worth a read for the twinkles that can be found between the oft magicless trials of adulthood.
The Fairytale Chicago
Lavender Line Press