What would your life be like if your father was a famous writer? And, in the course of making his name, he used you, a child, as a character in his books. How would you handle living a life locked in the memory of millions of people who think they know you because they read his books? And what if, in the course of trying to grow up and shed that shackle, something magical happened and you were finally able to find yourself? These are some of the questions explored in the magical and intriguing novel, BILLY MOON.
Billy Moon is, of course, the legendary Christopher Robin Milne, son of the world-famous WINNIE-THE-POOH author A.A. Milne, and the novel finds him grown and living in England with a wife and son. Christopher has struggled for years to break free from the fictional constructs his father wrote him into, refusing to even carry his father's works in his bookstore.
"BILLY MOON is a thought-provoking novel of wonder, at once familiar and uncertain, questioning the notions of reality and of dreams, and the intersection of the two."
Things have begun to take a turn for the peculiar as Christopher begins to hallucinate that things are not what they seem or are quite simply out of place. Or rather out of time. A cat for which he has concerns is suddenly no more than a stuffed animal. A candy wrapper from his past appears in his store. And a poster calling for strikes by workers in Paris, featuring the image of Pooh, appears but bears a date seven years in the future.
Then he receives the letter from Gerrard Hand.
Gerrard Hand, when we first meet him, is a little boy in Paris on a field trip to a police station. A peculiar lad, Gerrard was read the stories of A.A. Milne by his late father, who told him that the 100 Aker Wood would always be there for those friendly to bears. And so Gerrard begins to experience moments in which the reality of his life and the oddness of dream states occur simultaneously, and soon the dream is nearly more real than the real. As time passes, 17-year-old Gerrard reaches out to Christopher Milne by sending him a letter.
"If you want to escape him, you'll have to find him again. You'll need to find something of what he made for you, what he made of you. The bear is waiting for you."
Christopher and Gerrard team up against the backdrop of the Paris city strikes, wending their way through dreamlike realities (or is it reality-like dreams?), altering the course of history and their own lives.
Douglas Lain has crafted a work of sublime fascination with BILLY MOON. Initially, the story seems so disjointed and bizarre as to collapse under its own designs, yet Lain knows what he is doing, and delivers a powerful work of philosophy, history and magic.
BILLY MOON is a thought-provoking novel of wonder, at once familiar and uncertain, questioning the notions of reality and of dreams, and the intersection of the two. In many ways, it is akin to a Christopher Nolan film in book form, keeping you guessing and contemplating its end well after the last pages are turned.
Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard on September 6, 2013