A Snaggletooth Story
by C. V. Manning, MD
Francis Spufford, in his book The Child That Books Built (Faber and Faber, 2002), notes that there is a paucity of good literature for the reader who is moving from childhood to adulthood. Books often picked up by such adolescents err in one of two ways: either they treat the reader as a child only and end up patronizing the adolescent by writing down to him or her; or, they treat the reader as essentially an adult and fail to use the archetypes and norms of childhood, thus moving the reader into adult themes too early in life. The need, then, is for a book written with adult language and in adult narrative style that does not forgo the essential elements of fable, fairy tale and myth. To this end, I have written Cyon: Veritas.
The book is about a land populated by anthropomorphized dogs and is an adventure in the mode of traditional fantasy and fairy tales. However, it flows in the style of an adult novel and utilizes good, adult language. The possibility is certainly there that the language is too advanced for some younger readers (suggested ages 10 to adult though probably best read by children no younger than 12), but I have mitigated this potential pitfall by including a 500+ word glossary as a resource for the reader who finds some of the words difficult.
The story speaks to virtues such as duty, honor, faith, patriotism, hard work and friendship. It is a story of redemption and of good versus evil. It is an exciting adventure that flows along briskly and tells a good story while expanding vocabulary and promoting good character.
I am a native of Mississippi and grew up predominately in the Deep South. After moving to the metropolitan Washington D.C. area during high school, I returned to Mississippi for college (University of Mississippi class of 1990), and stayed in the state for medical school (University of Mississippi Medical Center class of 1994) and Internal Medicine residency (completed in 1997). After completion of my medical training, I worked overseas as a physician for the next seven years, traveling and working in the lion’s share of countries between Australia and Ireland. Now back in the U.S., my family and I live in the Washington D.C. area.
The book is a 289 page, 6x9 inch, perfect bound paperback with two dozen illustrations and a 500+ word glossary. It can be purchased on-line or through your local bookseller.
Certain city lads were more than visitors and somewhat more than lads. Actually growing up in the streets and alleys, seeing all of the good and bad that the city had to offer, and learning the names, personalities, schemes, plans and mysteries that filled the air of harbor towns like the fog that drifted in from the ocean – such youth, at a minimum, grew streetwise beyond their years. If such a ragamuffin had special capacities and talents but no further guidance or instruction, the possibility of becoming the master of a neighborhood, borough, or city district lay before him. If, however, the practical wisdom of the streets was buttressed by academic instruction and moral guidance – such a street urchin would find himself standing before an open door to the entire world. Jake Browne was such a lad.
In the swinging kerosene lamplight along the water’s edge, Jake watched the late fall passersby turn from crowds of restaurant goers, to smaller groups of pub goers, and finally to lone drifters as evening became late night. Ships creaked against their moorings and low, cold fog slipped in along the piers and into the city. The quay grew quiet during the period in-between the end of sailors’ revelry and their pre-dawn return to their ships. During this quiet time, Jake Browne moved off of his perch atop a flat-roofed, harbor warehouse and into the city.
Little used alleys, storm sewers, meandering chains of buildings that could be traveled by rooftop, places where a stone could be removed to allow one to slip under a wall, bars in gates and fences that could be easily forced, and waterspouts that could be easily climbed – all were part of Jake’s map of Port Horn; a map nowhere written down and fully known to less than a dozen of the town’s ragamuffin sentinels. Such covert capillaries of travel allowed a lad who knew them well to suddenly disappear from one part of the city and reappear elsewhere without anyone being able to divine the sleight of hand that allowed for such trickery. Thus, a late night straggler sitting on a dock and drinking a bottle of cider saw a movement out of the corner of his eye as Jake descended a drain pipe from the warehouse’s roof. Glancing in the direction of the warehouse, the cider drinker could faintly make out the phantasm of Jake’s shadow lying just at the edge of a circle of lamplight on the pavement. Then, in the midst of one blink of the cider drinker’s sleepy eyes, the shadow vanished.
Moving up into the city, Jake covered block after block unobserved. Under buildings built on pikes, over courtyard walls, through the sewers, up to roof tops, back down into dead end alleys, into narrow passages between buildings not built quite flush to each other, the youngster-spy moved along, completely undreamt of by those asleep in the city. And even to those who did suspect and were on the lookout for Jake – for there were those who did not wish him well and did not welcome his presence in the midst of their late night dealings – Jake remained an invisible phantom.
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