Friday, July 29, 2011

Smile No More

If you're afraid of clowns you might want to approach James A. Moore's new book, Smile No More, with a bit of caution, and if you're not afraid of them, after spending a little quality time with Rufo the Clown you just might be. And quality time it is, as Rufo explains to you, in his own words, just how he became what he is. It's not a pretty story, but one that definitely held my attention.
The structure of Smile No more is ambitious, leaping back and forth between Rufo in the present and Rufo in the past and also to the viewpoints of various supporting characters. Moore handles all of these viewpoints well, gradually bringing all the threads together. An impressive feat. I will admit that I sometimes found myself impatient to get back to Rufo because it's just so interesting to be inside his head.
I don't want to give away too much plot because the slowly unfolding story of Rufo's life, death, and second life is part of the fun of the book. (I made a similar comment about Moore's YA book Subject Seven, now that I think of it. he knows how to string a reader along.) Moore gives you plenty of time to wonder how Rufo got to where he is before dropping the hammer on you and actually showing you. Rufo is the product of a life gone very very wrong and he's got the scars to prove it. Believe me, this is not a clown you want to mess with.
I will mention one of the ideas I thought very cool, that of a missing circus. A ghost circus if you will. Circuses can be darn creepy, as anyone who ever read Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes can tell you. What happened to the circus? Rufo knows. And he'll tell you in his own good time. It's not a good idea to rush a pissed-off dead clown who escaped from hell to show some folks the errors of their ways. Trust me on this.

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