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The Raconteur's Commonplace Book: 03/06/21

The Raconteur's Commonplace Book

The Raconteur's Commonplace Book by Kate Milford first appeared as a framing device for Greenglass House (2014). (See also the road narrative spectrum reading of the book). Unexpected guests staying over a Christmas blizzard discuss their favorite tales from the book while recapitulating many of them at the inn.

Seven years later, we get to read a new edition that includes material not present in the "slim red volume" Milo was given. Both Greenglass House and The Raconteur's Commonplace Book were inspired by a Charles Dickens novella, The Holly-Tree Inn (1855).

In Raconteur's Commonplace Book it's the rising floodwaters that has brought together a group of travelers and kept them in the Blue Vein Tavern. To pass the time they all take turns telling stories, many of which are directly related to Nagspeak history.

Whereas in the course of the Oz canon, it becomes clear that all roads and near death experiences lead to Oz, in Milford's works, all roads and waterways lead to Nagspeak. On the way, they often detour to the Kairos Mechanism. This novel is no different.

Milfred's books are a bit like the Narnia series, in that publication order isn't the chronological order of the narrative time. As time travel is a recurring theme in the series as a whole it makes sense that they don't follow a strict forward pacing (as opposed to the Oz series, which primarily does).

The afterword of Raconteur's Commonplace Book includes a list of the novels referenced in the traveler's stories for readers who haven't read Milford's previous books. That said, being aware of what's being referenced adds to the experience.

Also as with Milford's previous books, including those not packaged as being "Greenglass House books," this one sits on the road narrative spectrum. Again, that's not a surprise in that Milford's concept of "orphan magic" was one source of inspiration for how I classify travelers.

Among the travelers there are orphans, siblings (twins), a scarecrow (meaning a constructed protector), and a minotaur (meaning a paranormal traveler). However, each of these travelers is approaching the end of their story, meaning that they have gained notoriety through their deeds and adventures. By the time they are at the tavern, they are collectively, privileged travelers (00).

Their collective destination is uhoria (CC), or a no-time. For some it's the nostalgia of past adventures. For others, it's unfinished business. For others it's the unspoken elephant in the room, the kairos mechanism.

Their route is the cornfield (FF). More precisely, it's the tkaronto (a place where trees stand in water). It's liminal space in its most magical form. In their case, the rising floodwaters are bringing this liminal space to the tavern. If they don't act, all will be lost.

Milford's next book is Rialto (2022) which has promised connections to The Boneshaker, which in turn has ties to both The Broken Lands and The Kairos Mechanism.

Five stars

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