Item description for Zuntig (Green Integer) by Tom LaFarge...
Tom La Farge's novel explores the terrain of his acclaimed The Crimson Bears and A Hundred Doors. He tells the story of a tribe of matriarchal apes that inhabit the Swamp at the mouth of the river Flood. The childless matriarch has a niece Zuntig, who aspires to succeed her but is overreached. About to be drowned with a bag of bones about her neck, Zuntig is transformed, time and again, encountering different selves and worlds, from the Biljub desert, the snow tunnels of Hyver, and the arctic ocean, to the Pig Opera of Bargeton. A wonderful fantasy in the manner of J. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings cycle.
Tom La Farge lives in New York with his wife Wendy Walker.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 6.01" Width: 4.27" Height: 0.86" Weight: 0.59 lbs.
Release Date Oct 1, 2001
Publisher Green Integer
ISBN 1931243069 ISBN13 9781931243063
Reviews - What do customers think about Zuntig (Green Integer)?
A Nifty Read, says the Washington Post Book World Mar 22, 2002
Tom La Farge's =Zuntig= ... is, like his two-volume novel =The Crimson Bears,= a tale of "Talking Animals" -- a designation specific enough to have its own entry in =The Encyclopedia of Fantasy= but sufficiently open to mislead, at least if you think it connotes whimsy in Edwardian nurseries. The animals of La Farge's humanless world communicate within and across species, but their discourse is the anxious and urgent interaction of adults mediating between the skin of the self, the constellation of community, and the void.
Zuntig, a swamp ape whose intelligence and initiative have led her to covet the leadership of her matriarchal society, sets about winning the approval of the tribe's Dispenser, who has no daughter so must name her successor. Zuntig's resourceful negotiation of the particulars of her taboo-filled world -- its games, avenues of power, and complicated belief system -- occupies the first third of the book, which is inventive, mysterious, and suspenseful in a manner familiar to well-done fantasy novels. These are the pleasures of discovering a world and comprehending its true nature, and they sustain us to the point at which Zuntig wins her prize and loses it.
Devastated and expecting to perish, Zuntig unexpectedly changes form and escapes her straitened circumstances (she has been tied up with the skeleton of the Dispenser's infant daughter and thrown into the ocean) and is abruptly free in a large and unfamiliar world. From here on La Farge's novel becomes increasingly fluid and surprising, its inventiveness less bound to conventional narrative form. Zuntig changes shape repeatedly, seeking a stable life far from the swamp, but finds her efforts undermined by an unsettling discovery: the soul of the murdered infant is incorporated into her every incarnation, and some portion -- a bone, an organ -- of her new body wants to return her to the swamp and the victim's own unfinished business.
After enough transformations, La Farge's very prose begins to change, and Zuntig's season among a colony of lemmings is told in the style of the premier novelist of courtship -- "'I lay it down as a rule, quite as a rule, Miss Zuntig,' intoned Mr. Arthur Lemming, an affected youth (but perhaps, she thought, his airs were to compensate for his person, which was stunted and nondescript), 'that any lemming's character may be safeliest read from the tunnel he cuts" -- while a succession of unhappy transformations is described in a Norton's anthology of verse pastiche ("Now her only solace is/Constant metamorphosis/All one tale, since she was ape:/Fouls her nest and shifts her shape", which the Coleridgean marginalia glosses as "=Retrospection is Misery.=")
Zuntig's adventures swerve and sublime, offering the reader such a wealth of potential meaning that we may wonder how to parse it. (It is certainly possible, for example, to read the novel as beginning in a structuralist world, composed of rules and systems such as Levi Strauss would relish, which evolves into a successively poststructuralist landscape, contingent and uncentered, its heroine a floating signifier in a field of endless play.) Unflaggingly witty and surprising, =Zuntig= reinvents itself with every chapter, and readers who do not actually demand that fantasy novels be reassuringly second-hand should take steps to secure a copy.