The Folk of The Fringe by Orson Scott Card and a Winner!

I have to admit that when I started The Folk of the Fringe I though that I was going to hate it and that made me very upset. I couldn’t imagine not liking a book by my favorite author, but here it was staring me in the face…the inevitable book that wouldn’t do it for me. You may think these are quite high expectations, but honestly I’ve read probably 30 books by him and have like every single one of them and many of those are among my all time favorite books, Speaker for the Dead being my favorite. So I always expect a great book when I have an OSC title in my hands. I had been avoiding this one for some time though…I didn’t like the cover, my copy is old and yellowed and used looking, and it’s just one of those books that you don’t hear much about. So I guess I went into it biased. And my mind was on other things when I started reading it.

It took me about 75 pages to get into the book, but I breezed through the other 225 today and yesterday and I have to say that I really enjoyed the rest of it. Nymeth left a comment on my Friday post saying that sometimes it’s just a matter of timing with books and whether we like them or not and I couldn’t agree more. You can go back to a book at a different time in your life (for me a week later) and have a totally different reaction to it depending on what’s going on.

The Folk of the Fringe is a book of short stories that are intertwined that center around a civilization of Mormons and a few non-Mormon characters trying to maintain civilization after a nuclear holocaust has struck the United States. I think one thing that kept me from immediately engaging with the book was the fact that it was centered around Mormon culture, something near and dear to OSC’s heart. I’ve always enjoyed reading about other religions and I’m somewhat familiar with the Mormon religion from OSC’s other works, but this had a lot of Mormon references in it.

Once I became settled into the story though, it felt like home. Though it is a collection of separate stories, they are all related and characters flow throughout stories. Those characters are built so perfectly, a talent that OSC has mastered. In just a few short pages he has you feeling like you have known them forever. He give us stories of a non-religious man aiding a group of Mormons on their dangerous journey from the East Coast to Utah during times when people will kill for anything salvageable. There’s the story of a great Mormon temple that is rumored to have gold inside that is now under water after the nuclear disaster. A tale of a teacher with palsy who puts his life in the hands of vindictive children for the safety of the whole community. A story of a traveling theatre group that brings a rare night of joy to a town in the form of a pageant while their own drama unfolds behind the curtain. And my favorite was the story of a boy who is to achieve greatness but travels to Brazil in the Amazon where the Europeans are claiming the land as their own to meet an Indian woman who he shares the power of dreams with.

These descriptions are vague, I know, but my review would go on forever if I described all of the stories in detail. But they’re good…very good. He wrote an excellent afterword at the end of the book too describing the process of writing this book too and I found out that he actually started writing Speaker for the Dead while writing this!

So this completes the Margaret A. Edwards Challenge for me…talk about just in the nick of time! I read:

1. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
2. Gifts by Ursula K. Leguin
3. The Folk of the Fringe by Orson Scott Card

Thanks for hosting this one Becky!! I thoroughly enjoyed each book in this challenge and will continue both series that I started!

I also have a winner to announce today for the drawing for The Book of Ballads by Charles Vess!! The Winner is DEBI of Nothing of Importance!!!!!! Congrats Deb πŸ™‚ Send me your snail mail address at chrisa511(at)gmail(dot)com and I’ll get it right out to you!


17 Responses

  1. Congrats, Debi!

    I’m glad to hear it picked up for you, Chris. I’ll see if I can fit it in this year.

    I’m currently reading The Stand. It’s very good, but very long.

  2. Yay for Debi!! And I’m glad you ended up liking it too. πŸ˜€ I’m thinking about joining that Midsummer Night challenge and reading Magic Street.

  3. Wow…thank you, thank you, thank you! I gotta say that I already felt like a winner with this post…your review was excellent! The Folk of the Fringe is definitely getting added high on my wish list…sounds like something I would absolutely love!

    And congrats on finishing up the challenge! Just yesterday I was wondering if I was going to be able to pull this one off, but I’m glad to say I made it, too. Feels good to finish one, doesn’t it? (Somewhat of a rare occurrence for me. lol)

  4. Well, since we all love Debi — yippee for Debi! πŸ™‚ Too bad, though, Chris. I don’t think you get blame points for sending a book to Debi. You want blame points, right?

  5. I’m glad you ended up enjoying this. I was reading about it on Amazon a while ago and like you I wondered if I’d enjoy it because it seems to be so centred around Mormon culture. I wondered if I’d feel out of place because I know next to nothing about it. But I’m glad to hear it wasn’t a problem for you. You’re making me want to pick this one up!

    And yay for Debi! Congratulations πŸ˜€

  6. congrats Debi!..

    and in response to your comment over at my blog.. yes you REALLY need to get back to Pern!!! I checked my identical book and the large paperback one and I wish you had gotten the paperback version.. the print isnt a whole lot larger but it is “somewhat” bigger.. I SO KNOW about the small print!!!

  7. I don’t tend to be terribly interested in particularly religion-focused books, but this sounds intriguing and thoughtful. Thanks for the review!

  8. Glad to hear it all worked out for you in the end. It is disappointing to read a book by one’s favorite author and not be enamored of it. They are human after all, though sometimes that is hard to admit. πŸ™‚

    Speaking of OSC, Jeff emailed me and pointed me to Subterranean Press. Have you seen the OSC book they are putting out in October? It has cover and interior illustrations by Tom Kidd and it looks great. I couldn’t resist and ordered it straight away.

  9. ah, excellent! congrats debi! you’re really gonna enjoy it!

    that is the coolest that your osc book turned out a winner! i know exactly what you mean about thinking a book isn’t going to be good.

    so what a wonderful surprise that it turned out to be good! πŸ˜€

  10. Congrats! Sounds like an interesting read and I’m curious to see more reviews.

  11. Crongrats to Debi! and sorry JP 😦

    I think I’m going to have to pick up the new Sub Press edition of Stonefather as well. The Tom Kidd cover is just too cool.

  12. haha! don’t be sorry! its so nice of you to offer this and to know that i was in the running!

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