In Charlyne Yi’s (actress, musician and, for brevity’s sake, all around creative) new adult-illustrated story collection, the writer and artist promises to take readers into her tortured mind of daydreamed parables. If this was her aim, then we suggest that Yi delivered. Oh, the Moon unfortunately reads just like it was inspired by barroom prophets and the vampire-hours kept by newly-minted and caffeine-stimulated young adults.
Be honest, is there anything more trepidatious than a friend’s insistence that you just have to listen to the wild dream that he or she had last night? Has the subsequent retelling ever really interested you or did you feign even passingly engaged attention? Is a half-remembered tale of your friend walking down the aisle in a dress made of pigeons that then turned into a pack of howling monkeys before the groom revealed himself to be Bart Simpson a model of good story-telling? It’s possible that I’m just a bad friend. If so, perhaps the sudden non-sequiturs that compose the narratives of Oh, The Moon’s longer stories are perfectly constructed out of transitional and-then-this-happeneds.
However, I’m just going to go ahead and insists that while a twist can be fantastical (especially in fantasy) it still should function as part of a larger story. Even a wrench, like those that form the epically silly journey to the grocer in Neil Gaiman’s Fortunately, The Milk, is framed and grounded in motivation and has a logical beginning and end. In Oh, the Moon, a man sells his soul to the devil for a tall hat, travels to the get it back at the behest of his lady-love, is for some reason led inside of a giant frog, and then dies soulless after getting struck by droplets of bile in the frog’s stomach. Only from the similarities in the artwork is it even clear that from page to page you are reading the same story.This isn’t the case for every entry in the collection, it is but certainly categorical of most of them
The art, however, does deserve some further mentioning. It’s delightful and plentiful. Yi has some real talent and each story is told with a unique style that shows that she has a range that deserves to be comparison to works like Tim Burton’s superb illustrated poetry collection The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories. The art proves that Yi has a future in this strange but wonderful medium of adult-oriented illustration, even if her individual tales fall short of engaging story-telling.
Oh, the Moon by Charlyne Yi releases November 3rd from HarperCollins and is available for pre-order from Amazon, and local book retailers.