Edward: Dancing on the Edge of Infinity
by Bruce Taylor
Cover Artist: Heidi Lampietti
Review by Andrea Johnson
Redjack Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781892619105
Date: November 2007 List Price $10.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The first time I saw a Baz Lurhmann movie (it happened to be Strictly Ballroom), I remember thinking to myself, "Has this guy never seen a movie? Because this isn't how they are done! Is he crazy?" But the movie worked, and I went on to see more Lurhmann films and enjoy them. Bruce Taylor's Edward: Dancing on the Edge of Infinity struck me in a similar fashion. Is Taylor crazy? Doesn't he know novels just aren't written like this? Edward is a relatively normal young man. Growing up outside Seattle, he has a typical childhood, building treehouses and playing pranks with his friends Roy and Oscar. His life is presented to us in a series of short stories that show small snippets of Edward's life as he learns "what it's all about".
As a 9-year-old, Edward creates an imaginary friend, Umbra, who is a Martian. Umbra visits Edward in his dreams and shows him the beautiful landscapes and canals of Mars. Edward wants to grow up to be an astronaut, live on Mars, and visit Umbra. Throughout his life, he will be visited in dreams by Umbra and other imaginary creations, which are really just his subconscious trying to tell him to stop being afraid. To stop being afraid of making a wrong decision (and just do something!), to stop thinking exactly like his Dad, because he believes that is the only way he can earn his father's love.
Edward spends so much time drowning in fear, he nearly misses living his life. Maribeth leaves him because she realizes she loves Edward more than he loves himself. That's no way for a relationship to work, and Edward refuses to see that anything is wrong. When is he going to learn that life isn't ever storybook simple?
Taylor tells us time and time again, the whole point of telling Edward's story is to show us what education really is. Is education knowing how to spell? Is it arithmetic, and knowing how to balance your checkbook? Or is it all those moments in your life where all you can say is "Oh"? Edward: Dancing on the Edge of Reality focuses on those "Oh" moments, those moments when we all realize what the word "education" means.
Fiction as Psychology 101? Fiction as self-help? In a later dream Edward meets Flesrenni (another imaginary friend), who tells him if they don't get to be really good friends, Edward will be a mirrorface for the rest of his life, showing other people only reflections, and never letting anyone get to know the real Edward. It's unusual, so many dream sequences in a book like this: Entire short stories are Edward's dreams, and Taylor succeeds in making them feel like true, surreal dreams, where people and shadows are vague, filled with loneliness and long hallways. Everyone who reads this book has had dreams like this. Everyone has had that talk with their Flesrenni.
Perhaps semi-autobiographical, the stories are littered with little footnotes, sometimes giving more tangential detail than I really needed. They were interesting but sometimes a distraction. I had to get into the habit of reading a few pages and then going back and reading the footnotes. Taylor provides additional short essays between each story in an effort to tell us why poor Edward must go through these trials (and perhaps Taylor is looking for reasons why he had to go through them?). The in-between essays include their own tangents, sometimes whatever mundane things Taylor was thinking about at the time, like reminders to his readers to eat something, and don't forget to pay the bills. Every in-between is split in the middle of a sentence, and the sentence ends in the next in-between. Edward: Dancing of the Edge of Reality includes a number of literary experiments, and splitting the sentences is the only one that just doesn't work.
Strange literary experiments aside, I recommend Edward: Dancing on the Edge of Reality to readers who enjoy books which force you to admit that maybe there is a different, a better, way of looking at the world, and yourself.