Jeffers, Alex. “Deprivation; or, Benedetto Furioso: an Oneiromancy”, Lethe Press, 2012.
I must admit that I had never seen the word “oneiromancy” before I read this book so aside from having an enjoyable read I learned something new. Oneiromany, I learned is the ability to interpret dreams in order to “foretell the future”. Ben Lansing travels everyday from Providence, Rhode Island to Boston to work at his first job since graduating from college. This is not something he particularly relishes and he does not do well with the routine. He also is not sleeping well but when he does manage to get some shut-eye, he dreams and dreams fabulously. Having studied literature of the Renaissance, his dreams are influenced by what he has learned.
It was Ben’s wish to be a paladin and he desperately wanted to be in love but instead he finds himself roaming the streets of Boston and what Alex Jeffers does so brilliantly here is bring to feel of Boston and the glory of Renaissance Italy together to give us a story that is so beautifully written that the prose can bring the reader to feelings of awe.
While wandering through the seedy South Boston, Ben comes upon Dario, a lost prince with his younger sister who have been exiled from Italy and he makes a resolution to rescue Dario and his family. Ben is in an almost constant state of shift from dream to reality and back again and his dream trips are amazing. Just as he moves back and forth between these two states, so does he movie back and forth between loving and being in love and between past, present and future. One might think that this might be hard to follow but it is not at all and I am sure that it is Jeffers’s writing that allows us to movie with Ben so easily. We are never really sure whether Ben is truly experiencing something or is dreaming and Jeffers makes us question ourselves as to whether or not we want to separate our dreams from our actual lives and what would be the result if we did so.