Tales From the Red Book of Tunes

Includes music!

Includes music!

I can’t tell you how excited I am about the release of Tyler Johnson’s new book, Tales From the Red Book of Tunes. OK, I lied. Yes, I can.

Tyler is a gifted writer, poet, and musician who has displayed all his talents between these covers. Tales is a collection of stories matched with music that Tyler wrote. While the setting is an alternate reality of sorts — one which recalls the Maritime Provinces, the Outer Banks, or Ireland of a century ago —Tales is firmly rooted in realism.

Each tune, and the story that follows it, evokes suspense, humor, joy, sadness, or love with poetic subtlety, relying on image and tone just as much as plot to relay its meaning. Anyone who enjoys folk music, dance, or just some excellent short fiction will enjoy this book. And don’t forget to check out the music!

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2 Responses to Tales From the Red Book of Tunes

  1. I’ve had the pleasure of reading this excellent book. Here is my review:

    Tyler Johnson’s collection of short stories, entitled Tales from the Red Book of Tunes, tells the stories behind tunes originally collected by fictitious thirteenth century musician Mil Harei, as he crossed the fantastical northern isles of Hollean. Each short story is accompanied by a tune allegedly set down by Harei in The Red Book of Tunes. Interspersed throughout is an interview with Jiri Hansom Felding, fictitious editor of The New Book of Red Tunes, and professor in the Department of Folklore and Cultural Preservation at Highlands University, Telm.

    The stories span the centuries: from Hollean’s distant past, to the present day. We learn much about the people and the place through the music and through the stories that seem to flow effortlessly from the mind of Johnson. From the first story, “The Standing Goat,” one is captivated by Johnson’s lyrical prose and his strong evocation of place.

    The themes are universal: lost love, jealousy, fear, dysfunctional families, folk legends, yet they are set in such a way as to be unique. Though the setting is fantastical, the people who inhabit Johnson’s stories are real people with real problems that undergo some sort of transformation; we learn to care deeply about the characters in the short space dictated by the form. And we feel the theme of each tune, deftly composed by Johnson, course through each story. For one doesn’t as much read these stories, as sing them, as they flow ceaselessly through the reader like the movement of contra dancing through the initiated.

    One is left wanting more, waiting for the stories to continue, eager to step again into more tales, to be swept up by their powerful and melodious appeal. An excellent and brilliant debut collection, Tales from the Red Book of Tunes is a must read for anyone who has ever been touched by the power of music.

    -Matthew Peters, author of Conversations Among Ruins (forthcoming through All Things That Matter Press), and The Brothers’ Keepers (forthcoming through MuseItUp Publishing)

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