It’s summer here in Maine, and that means that every chance you can take to get outside needs to be taken advantage of immediately.
My son (4) and I recently visited Fort Knox, Maine–not New York–where a heavily fortified granite fort is carved into the side of the banks of the Penobscot river. “Established in 1844”, I found it difficult to explain the fort’s purpose and history to my son, mainly because he was completely hung up on the difference between a gun and a canon. Canons are guns. Guns aren’t canons. And why would anyone want to sink a ship? Why aren’t they sinking those ships in the river?
It is nearly impossible to explain how people squabble over resources, and why they would want to kill each other, and how humanity has found new and exciting ways of killing each other nearly every year of its existence without the story part of history.
It’s so much easier to understand history as it is revealed over time, and as a part of our experience and our own stories. Master of Rods and Strings, by Jason Marc Harris, does this exceptionally well. Its protagonist starts out as a young child who sees his sister–a natural resource–taken away by his cruel Uncle, and afforded lavish attention for her abilities with puppets and the occult. Fascinated by her abilities and jealous of the attention lavished on her, he uncovers the history of occult puppetry through his experience in seeking revenge. Even now, writing this summary, this complex backstory seems so much easier to comprehend in the form of a story rather than walking through the empty, husk of a structure that will possibly live on as long as the pyramids.
Future generations, bereft of the tourist plaques and internet, will stumble upon the site and marvel at the hulking, burdensome architecture of Fort Knox and the giant, rusted cannons, of which there were hundreds, and wonder at the purpose of such an installation. What God could have made them spend twenty-five years constructing it? What enemy deserved so many gun turrets? What army could be so devastating the fort’s architecture was designed so that when one part of the fort fell, it became the perfect killing field?
You’ll never know, not really, unless you read the story. Unless you place yourself in the mind of an individual of the time who lives it, learning along the way as well all do.
And if you’re like me, looking for quick reads that won’t cause you to blink three times and miss all that summer has to offer, pre-order Master of Rods and Strings, enter our giveaway for a chance to win a signed book, and live the history of occult puppetry. Without a proper guide, you’ll never know what you can accomplish with the creepy marionette in your grandma’s attic. Seize the strings with purpose.
If you can’t wait four days for Master of Rods and Strings to be released, head on over to Gizmodo to peruse their list of books to look out for in July, which Jason Marc Harris’ horror novella debut, Master of Rods and Strings is featured in, and then tell us what you’re reading on Twitter @bookvernacular.
It may be summer, but books travel well!