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Monday, April 06, 2009

Val/Orson, coming in early May

"The spirit of the forest is alive in the beautiful writing of Marly Youmans' Val/Orson; a compelling legend of romance and mystery both ancient and modern at once." --Jeffrey Ford

"Incendiary, passionate writing propels Val/Orson, an utterly fearless story that takes chances and passes that test brilliantly. Brave, beautiful, and fey." --Jeff Vandermeer

"What a gorgeous tale! I'm always delighted to read a new work by Marly Youmans, and Val/Orson both enchants and satisfies: it is a combination of myth, Shakespeare, and modern environmentalism, with not a little magic thrown into the mixture, written in prose as lush as it is precise. A treat for anyone who loves fantasy or just a tale well told." --Theodora Goss

Editions & how to order...

Jacketed hardcover limited edition (200) A handsome cloth edition signed by Marly Youmans and the writer of the introduction, Catherynne M. Valente, with jacket image by Clive Hicks-Jenkins and interior by novelist-designer Robert Wexler. Click on the image above to see the jacket in full. A larger run is the unjacketed limited edition (500) signed by Marly.

P. S. Publishing
"flap copy,"
with special thanks
to Philip Lee Williams
and Robbie Mayes:

Inspired by the French medieval tale Valentine and Orson, this moving, insightful novella from award-winning author Marly Youmans reclaims a 500-year-old epic for contemporary readers.

Through the dazzling double-story of a stolen twin and the secrets of an ancient forest, Youmans roams also among the sweet spirits of Shakespeare’s romance plays.

Val/Orson opens with Val long saddened at the loss of his stolen twin brother. He has grown up in the California forest, climbing mysterious redwoods and finding his greatest pleasure in a landscape that seems alive. And sorrow for his lost sibling—his double—haunts his walks.

From boyhood, he has worked with all his intelligence and strength to save the ancient trees. Now Val's world is increasingly populated by environmentalists, sometimes dangerously radical, sometimes merely idealistic, and further shaded in connection with the disappearance of a particularly bewitching tree-sitter--a woman who has both captivated and confused him.

“I fear seeing a luminous being crouched by the hearth, ready to swing its intense light-drenched gaze toward me. I fear that I’ll never grasp the terms of my own damnation or what happened to the woman I knew only by the name of Diamond . . .”

Did she die in her wanderings? Is she still in the deep forest with her lover, mocking Val? As he searches for his lost twin, he must find out.

The sequoia groves are the stage where a company of figures worthy of a Renaissance “winter’s tale” (Fergus, the Sherwood band of tree-sitters, grief-shaded Bella with her wild inheritance, Clere, and mysterious others who seem close by, half-hidden in trees) engage, entertain, and challenge Val. As their stories mesh and unwind, they lure Val deeper into the rich complexity of their narratives and toward revelation. And as the mystery in Marly Youmans’ magical world intensifies, Val moves from revelation to a stunning transformation as son, brother, lover, and steward of the wildwood.

P. S.

I've enjoyed working with publisher Pete Crowther and editor Nick Gevers. I find that it's sweet to be asked for a manuscript and a pleasure to work with a smaller house. I recommend it!


  1. That's a spectacular cover. It's a shame they have to cover part of it with blurbs.

  2. wow! congratulations!!!!!

    That is awesome!!!!!!!!!

    ITs great to see you continuing to do your thing and be so successful.

  3. This is fantastic, Marly!
    I'm delighted for you.
    One has merely to read a Marly one-liner blog comment to realise the talent in your writing( and your special way of thinking too)

  4. Dave,

    A translucent cover crossed my mind, but it still wouldn't have been the same. But I think Clive did a grand job on the painting, and Robert on the book design.

    Miss Susannah of the hats,

    Thank you for every one of those exclamation points! I imagine it depends on your definition of "successful," worldly or no, but I do keep on spinning and singing as best I can.


    Ah, that is sweet, though now I'm wondering what peculiar message I left at your e-house across the sea...

  5. The cover art is bold and the promised subject matter - of twins/Twelfth Night - enticing...congratulations!!!

  6. Knew you would have a special interest in the subject matter... I am glad you liked the image!

  7. How wonderful! I can't wait to read it.

  8. Fabulous cover!!
    i can hardly wait until my copy arrives...i'm not sure which one i will receive, jacketed or not...i believe that i was the first to pre-order my copy when you first announced it's publication.
    Really...i am all smiles seeing this and thinking of the day i get to open that package.

  9. Robbi and zephyr,

    Trala and heyho, I hope it will live up to your expectations.

  10. Thanks, jarvenpa--

    Hope all is springish and flourishing at the bookstore and elsewhere!

  11. Hooray, I can't wait till mine arrives - I'd sort of forgotten about it so it's a lovely surprise to know it'll be along soon!

  12. It is very pleasant to think that somebody in France will be reading the book! Soon I shall have to come by and inspect your many irons-in-the-fire.

  13. I finished reading Val/Orson last week and have been waiting to get it sorted out before writing to you. Then early this morning I caught just the topic of a BBC program about what do people read in tough times like these. What they ought to read is your book.

    Family love, lives centered on eternal values, living the daily pain of what looks like loss, standing up against grim odds, accepting happiness in what is true: good reminders for our times. We need skillful perseverance now, staunchness, and your characters show it. It’s a book for the times, like Grapes of Wrath was.

    There’s a lot of Catherwood in Val/Orson.

    Thank you for a beacon book.

  14. I thought that I'd replied to this, but it seems that my words blew up and then imploded like the Peep that R microwaved after Easter.

    Thank you!

    And I shall be thinking about how much "Catherwood" there might be in "Val/Orson"... Certainly there is a forest spirit and struggle and deep-down ties to family, but I'll have to ponder a bit.

  15. It's really beautiful. I am part of the way through it, and hope to be writing about it sometime soon for my blog at least.

  16. I will now be thinking about that Peep and wanting to (though knowing I shouldn't)repeat that experiment myself.

  17. Ah, you received an e-copy for reviewers and bloggers, I see!

    Thanks, Robbi--glad you are liking my frolic in the woods.

    Go ahead: microwave the little yellow fellow. Taste sensation... Not me, though; I'm off to the dentist. Dr. Weber would not approve.

  18. Since I've only had one cavity in my life, my dentist would not mind. Jeremy takes after me in that department, thank goodness.
    I put my comments up on the blog. Please direct your publisher there, though it is a very short (but enthusiastic) comment.

  19. Thanks, Robbi--
    We are glad for comments, outbursts, and general gushing!


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.