Palimpsest by Catherynne Valente

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In the Cities of Coin and Spice and In the Night Garden introduced readers to the unique and intoxicating imagination of Catherynne M. Valente. Now she weaves a lyrically erotic spell of a place where the grotesque and the beautiful reside and the passport to our most secret fantasies begins with a stranger’s kiss.…

Between life and death, dreaming and waking, at the train stop beyond the end of the world is the city of Palimpsest. To get there is a miracle, a mystery, a gift, and a curse—a voyage permitted only to those who’ve always believed there’s another world than the one that meets the eye. Those fated to make the passage are marked forever by a map of that wondrous city tattooed on their flesh after a single orgasmic night. To this kingdom of ghost trains, lion-priests, living kanji, and cream-filled canals come four travelers: Oleg, a New York locksmith; the beekeeper November; Ludovico, a binder of rare books; and a young Japanese woman named Sei. They’ve each lost something important—a wife, a lover, a sister, a direction in life—and what they will find in Palimpsest is more than they could ever imagine.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Catherynne Valente

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Catherynne M. Valente was born in the Pacific Northwest, grew up in California, and now lives in Ohio with her two dogs.
Published February 17, 2009 by Spectra. 386 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Palimpsest

Kirkus Reviews

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You need a passport to enter the improbable city Palimpsest and its magical mindscapes: a map of the city tattooed in black ink somewhere on your body.

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Slowly, as if to prove the deliberateness of its small deed, the creature presses its stinger into November’s mouth, pauses for a moment on the tip of her tongue, stiff against the taut flesh of it, and then eases into her, piercing her tongue deftly and perishing in a paroxysm of venom and relig...

Jun 30 2010 | Read Full Review of Palimpsest

SF Site

Valente Website ISFDB Bibliography SF Site Review: A Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects SF Site Review: The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden SF Site Review: The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden SF Site Review: The Labyrinth In the author's own words, Palimpsest is a "sexually...

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Fantasy Literature

The first thing that strikes you about Palimpsest is the gorgeous prose.

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Valente's novel Palimpsest over at the io9 Book Club, and now Valente is going to drop in this evening to answer your questions.

Nov 04 2010 | Read Full Review of Palimpsest

Strange Horizons

It is also never clear whether the Palimpsest virus exerts any direct behavioral pull on the characters, and thus never clear whether we are to attribute the characters' addict-like desperation to their personal need for what Palimpsest offers, or to the needs of Palimpsest itself: that is to say...

Apr 20 2009 | Read Full Review of Palimpsest

Lambda Literary

Palimpsest limns a city that is literally written on the body – a sexually transmitted geography, whose map appears in fragments on the skin of ordinary humans after they sleep with someone already infected.

Jun 03 2010 | Read Full Review of Palimpsest

Scholars And Rogues

Barbara Hodgson’s books about travellers’s experiences through time and space, which are thrilling books to read, don’t end up in the Science Fiction/Fantasy section, but they probably should.

Aug 08 2010 | Read Full Review of Palimpsest

New Haven Review

Here's the word palimpsest in Merriam-Webster: 1 : writing material (as a parchment or tablet) used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased.

Dec 15 2010 | Read Full Review of Palimpsest

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