Douglas Smith's The Dancer at the Red Door

"The city has a song.
Can't you hear it?
A million broken hearts beat its rhythm. Whispered lies, unheeded cries scribble its lyrics on walls, their meaning lost in the babble, in the magnitude of the choir."

Alexander King is a man at the top of his game. Vintage Jaguar, private elevator, penthouse executive suite in downtown Toronto, King is the very model of power and success. And King is bored. As he dispenses with the final minutiae of yet another corporate takeover, King is forced to acknowledge that winning no longer brings him any pleasure. He has grown tired of the game.

Brooding over this realization and what he might do about it, King stares down at the busy streets of Toronto, thirty floors beneath him, and notices someone who would normally be invisible to him: a street person. But this is no ordinary street person, this man is glowing as if on fire.

King descends to the street level to investigate this strange phenomenon more closely and in doing so he encounters a mysterious dancer who, like the street person, glows. The crowds seem oblivious to her presence as The Dancer spins and waltzes along the busy sidewalk, dancing to a song which only King and The Dancer hear.

King follows The Dancer and their private song, and begins his quest for a new game -- a new life -- within the secret world which lies behind the Red Door.

Just as the song of the city leads King throughout his journey, so too does it lead the reader throughout Douglas Smith's beautifully crafted The Dancer at the Red Door. The writing is lean and evocative; every element of the story works double-time as setting informs character, action creates mood, and nothing is superflous. The song becomes a living, breathing creature which, moreso than hearing, I could feel viscerally as I read Doug's wonderful story.

Highly, highly recommended.

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