Dahlquist, Gordon 1962(?)-
Dahlquist, Gordon 1962(?)-PERSONAL:
Born c. 1962. Education: Reed College, Portland, OR, B.A.; Columbia University School of the Arts, M.F.A.
Home—New York, NY.
New Dramatists (board member), CiNE (founding member).
Garland Playwriting Award for Messalina and Delirium Palace.
Vortex du Plaisir: A Play, Playscripts (New York, NY), 2005.
The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters (novel), Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Author of plays, including Messalina, Babylon Is Everywhere: A Court Masque, Delirium Palace, The Secret Machine, Island of Dogs, Severity's Mistress, Mission Byzantium, and Reticence.
When an ice storm confined playwright Gordon Dahlquist to a jury room in Manhattan, he used his time to begin a Victorian fantasy that resulted in the 2006 work The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters. This debut novel caused New York publishers to offer "Hollywood-style cash," according to American Theatre contributor Randy Gener. The book, as Dahlquist explained on Powell's Books, "takes place in an unnamed city in 19th-century Europe, and begins with a young heiress from the West Indies who decides to follow the fiancé who has jilted her as a way of understanding why. Very quickly, she stumbles upon a sinister conspiracy using a new invention—a sort of psychotropic blue glass—able to capture a person's memories and then allow anyone else to experience them in every bodily particular." The heiress soon becomes involved with a professional murderer and a spy in her elaborate and convoluted search. The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters "is a genre-straddling book," according to Stuart Kelly, writing for Scotsman.com. "It is like a collaboration between Bram Stoker and Wilkie Collins that should appeal to aficionados of ‘literary’ novels as much as to fans of ‘fantasy’ books." In an interview for Bookreporter.com, Dahlquist reported that he wanted "to write something that I myself would consider a kick in the pants." At nearly eight hundred pages, his novel delivers a hefty kick.
Numerous reviewers did, in fact, draw attention to the size of this debut work. Writing in Entertainment Weekly, Tina Jordan called the work "a plump English tea cake of a book: messy, studded with treats, too big and too rich to finish in just one sitting." Carol Memmott, writing in USA Today, found much to like in the novel, commending its "charismatic protagonists, an original premise and plenty of action." However, Memmott also felt it was "about 300 pages too long." Similarly, a Kirkus Reviews critic termed The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters a "bloated, wildly fanciful Edgar Allan Poe-esque tale," as well as "way, way over the top," while a Publishers Weekly contributor found it a "mishmash of Sherlock Holmes, Jane Eyre and Eyes Wide Shut that never quite comes together." A more positive assessment came from SF Site contributor David Soyka, who described the novel as a mixture of "science fiction (primarily of the H.G. Wells variety), mystery, Victorian romance with a dash of Gothic horror, all with a bit of tongue planted firmly in cheek," and concluded that it was "quite an enjoyable book." Anna Kainberger, writing for In the News, had even higher praise: "The book in its full gothic, dark as well as erotic allegories is reminiscent of a Harry Potter for grown ups, tingling, fascinating, exciting and impossible to put down."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Theatre, March, 2006, Randy Gener, "Dreaming with Dahlquist," p. 15.
Bookmarks, November-December, 2006, review of The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, p. 50.
Entertainment Weekly, August 4, 2006, Tina Jordan, "Bloat Ride," review of The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, p. 72.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2006, review of The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, p. 646.
Publishers Weekly, June 12, 2006, review of The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, p. 29.
USA Today, August 3, 2006, Carol Memmott, review of The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, p. 4D.
Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (March 4, 2007), "Author Talk: Gordon Dahlquist."
In the News,http://www.inthenews.co.uk/ (October 9, 2006), Anna Kainberger, review of The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters.
Powell's Books,http://www.powells.com/ (March 4, 2007),"Ink Q&A: Gordon Dahlquist."
Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.com/ (March 4, 2007), "Gordon Dahlquist."
Sci Fi Weekly,http://www.scifi.com/ (September 4, 2006, John Clute, review of The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters.
SF Site,http://www.sfsite.com/ (March 4, 2007), David Soyka, review of The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters.