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The circus comes to town in this month's Siren's Call

September 24, 2011 | 11:00 am

Circus-of-dr-lao A big splash and a small one –- there’s been quite a bit of advance buzz over Erin Morgenstern’s novel “The Night Circus,” which is one of the books reviewed in this month’s Siren’s Call column. That novel, which describes a duel between two aged magicians via their proxies, a young man and woman, has even received comparisons to the Harry Potter saga. A first-time novelist couldn’t ask for better, which seems guaranteed to give the book momentum in bookstores and (probably) onto bestseller lists.

But there’s another book that hasn’t enjoyed that kind of attention -- which is a shame -- and it quietly appeared in mid-summer from Bison Books, the paperback branch of University of Nebraska Press. It’s a splendid fable of a miserable-looking little circus that visits a dusty Arizona town and leaves an unforgettable impression. Mythical beasts and creatures -– mermaids, the Medusa, satyrs among them -– truly walk inside these circus tents, both stunning and thrilling the local townsfolk. Finney’s story, the column points out, shows us that the world of myth, “ ‘that weird netherworld of unbiological beings,’ can arrive in even the most forgotten corners.”

-- Nick Owchar

Photo: cover of "The Circus of Dr. Lao"  Credit: Bison Books / University of Nebraska Press

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