As I entered the Glade of Years to interview The Year 2022, I made a startling discovery.
Kenny: Greetings, Year 2022.
Year 2022: Hello, Kenny.
Kenny: Um. I believe we’ve met before. Or else you bear a striking resemblance to the Year 2021.
Year 2022: Perhaps you are aware of the staffing and labor shortages which marked 2021?
Kenny: I am indeed. In fact, I feel most appreciative of having my wonderful DDG staff in place right now.
Year 2022: Yes, well the Council of Years was not so fortunate. No one could be found to be The Year 2022 and so I have taken on another annum.
Kenny: Gads! Thank you for your service! What can you tell us about your second year?
Year 2022: We years have a term we use for assessing the degree of solidity in expectations. We call that farn.
Year 2022: Yes. You see, minds are filled with expectations based on experience. You expect that apple trees will grow apples and blueberry bushes produce blueberries. In a year of very low farn, apple trees produce limes and blueberry bushes yield edible grey flowers never seen before.
Kenny:That is both a fanciful and an unsettling notion. Are you saying that 2022 will be a year of low farn?
Year 2022: I am.
Kenny: Even concerning books?
Year 2022: Some things are more farn-resistant than others and books are preeminent among them because of their intrinsically figurative nature.
Kenny: Yes, but what of the plague of literal-mindedness that engulfs us?
Year 2022: You are right to worry about that. I meant more that books in 2022 will be relatively resistant to farn, not free of it.
Kenny: I see. Will you share the books which will transcend farn the most?
Year 2022: Most happy to. Let us start with a marvelous young adult fantasy debut by Vanessa Len, Only a Monster.
Kenny: I’m fascinated that you chose that book since, not only it is a wonderful read, but it deals with time in such an interesting and unsettling way.
Year 2022: There’s hope for you yet, Kenny. As you know, the monsters of this book have the ability to travel though time by stealing bits of it from normal humans. Thus, if a monster took a year from you, you would die a year earlier than otherwise and the monster could travel a year backward or forward in time with her stolen temporal segment. The book is so rich in both story and character, but it is its integrity in giving real consequences to its monster protagonist’s dare we say heroic actions which make it so resistant to farn. A splendid book.
Kenny: It really is. I was so sorry to leave its pages and loathe to begin another book for a day or two. What other books will you bring to our attention?
Year 2022: Another book which deals intriguingly with the concepts of personal identity and time is Edward Ashton’s romp of a science fiction book, Mickey 7. Equally entertaining and thought-provoking, character- and scene-driven, this is a book sure to appeal to a broad audience, particularly Andy Weir fans.
Kenny: You know, it’s funny but I couldn’t help thinking of Frank Herbert’s brilliant but now obscure Destination Void when I read Mickey 7, even though I thought the similarities were likely a case of parallel evolution…
Year 2022: Well spotted. Yes, the idea of learning from the failures of past iterations of self is intrinsic and well-explored by both books. In any case, Mickey 7 is just the book for anyone seeking an informative diversion.
Kenny: Totally agree. Any others to share?
Year 2022: Well, in the midst of farn one can always use a real palette cleanser, a completely warm and engaging picture book to bring happiness and delight to young and old alike. I have two to share: the ridiculously cute Perfectly Pegasus by Jesse Sima, and the equally adorable Donut: The Unicorn Who Wants to Fly by Laura Gehl, illustrated by Andrea Zuill. Lonely winged horses, determined wingless unicorns, friendship, and teamwork in achieving the desire for flight, these two books offer a lovely respite from care that will not be amiss for any child nor indeed the grownups who love them.
Kenny: They do sound like welcome oases! What about a book that deals well with difficult themes? People might need that, too.
Year 2022: Very true. And for my last book to share, I will mention that Saaba Tahir, author of the exceptional Ember quartet, has managed to switch genres to splendid effect in her new young adult work of realistic fiction, All My Rage. Tahir brings deep roots to bear in this powerful tale, which pulls no punches but offers a hope all the stronger for being infused with sadness, loss, and a heavy cost.
Kenny: Thanks so much, Year 2022. I hope your second tenure ends on a happier note than it begins with.
Year 2022: Thanks, Kenny. Hopefully you will not see me again in 2023 is all I can say.
(This interview appeared originally in Publisher’s Weekly)