Shadowplay (Ellipsis Press, 137 pages) by Norman Lock, the 2010 Dactyl Foundation Literary Fiction Award recipient, is a dense fable, mixing magic realism with self-reflexivity. The entire story is given to us in miniature at the beginning, such that the novella itself is really a constant retelling–a folding and refolding–rather than an unfolding. A shadow puppet master named Guntur falls in love with Candra, who comes into his theater one day to buy puppets. When she dies of typhoid fever six days later, he falls into despair for many years, until finally he understands how to enter the world of the dead, through his shadow art, to abduct her shadow, bringing her back to the theater where she becomes his prisoner for many months... This plot unfurls slowly: it starts, stops, returns and starts again, usually with a new detail, or sometimes less detail, sometimes abstracted, sometimes enlarged. The effect is of narrative feathering, one moment being layered on top of another until the whole body is finally covered... Lock’s Shadowplay is a masterful rendering of the life of one story teller, trying desperately to fit within the intricate pattern of tradition, daring to transcend it by embracing it too much, until he is finally becomes a shadow in the story... an enchanting ritual of forms whose beauty will linger in the memory for a very long time.
Read the full review by Tori Alexander at http://tiny.cc/dactylawardSP