The Book: Walter Moers, RUMO AND HIS MIRACULOUS ADVENTURES. Overlook Press, 2006 (as new).
First read: 2007
Owned since: 2007
As an inveterate weirdo and intellectually moody child, I oft times scan bookshelves in stores waiting for something to leap out at me. This has happened, literally. I have the scars to prove it. But last week I was given a gentle nudge that led me to, dare I reach for the melodrama, one of my favoritist books ever.
It is a large, tealish number with the title, RUMO & HIS MIRACULOUS ADVENTURES, printed in large cartoonish letters. A line of line-drawn characters decorate the bottom in a chorus line of surreal gaiety. I was enchanted. I may have giggled. In fact, I’m sure I did.
Curled up in my blankets later that evening, I opened the magical pages.
The pages were black with white print floating above a drawer with an eye opened and glaring.
“Imagine a chest of drawers!
Yes, a big chest of with lots of drawers
Containing all the marvels and mysteries of Zamonia
Arranged in alphabetical order.
A chest of drawers floating in absolute darkness.
Can you imagine that?
Good, now watch: one of those drawers is opening!
The one bearing the letter R.
R for Rumo.
And now look inside – deep inside,
Before it shuts again.”
Rumo is a little Wolperting who will one day become the greatest hero in the history of Zamonia. Seriously. But he does not begin life that way, as most heroes don’t.
He begins life as a small, coddled puppy on a farm in Harkonia. Barely a synapse fires in his brain as his life consists of the adoration of a caring family enchanted with his clumsy puppiness. But all does not remain well. Rumo does have a hero’s journey to undertake, after all.
It began with pain. Something was happening in the inner reaches of Rumo’s mouth, something odd and terrible. Confused and hurting, Rumo leaves the comfort of his bed for the comfort of his people. But on the way something strange happens. From four feet on the ground, Rumo begins to walk on two. This is infinitely easier than four and feels… right. His joy in this discovery is short lived, however. Upon reaching the barn where his people should be pitching hay, Rumo finds them being stuffed into large bags by large, one-eyed monsters. Soon, he too has been stuffed.
He awakes in a cave on a great shifting island called Roaming Rock, a prisoner with scores of humans and animals of all description. Their captors are omnivores Demonocles, being that prefer to eat their prey whilst said prey is still screaming after a quick rendering. Rumo’s situation is dire.
But as more prisoners are dragged out of the cave, Rumo is changing. He is growing taller and he is growing teeth. And, with the aid of the odorous shark-grub Smyke, his is talking for the first time in his fuzzy life. Smyke, a traveler and gambler of little renown, imparts on his charge the finer parts of winning a battle through a series of stories Rumo is keen to hear. As the feasting on captives continues, the fate of everyone rests on the inexperienced pup's shoulders.
And this is just the first adventure!
This book has quickly made a nest in my brain and taken over as a favorite. Moers leads his reader down a vastly entertaining and odd brambly path festooned with adventure. There is no question that this is an adult tale but it is steeped in serious whimsy. What could easily be over the top in its very different-ness and verbosity makes the book charming and utterly readable. And despite its rambling style, Moer never leaves the reader to muddle behind in confusion. The illustrations the author provides along the way only add to the joy of reading of the wondrous land of Zamonia and its horned and fuzzy hero.