When a reader goes to the Denver Public Library to pick up an author such as Sinclair Lewis, satire is an expected literary component and is designed by the author to blantantly expose perceived wrongs. The definition of satire, according to dictionary.com, reinforces the forceful perception with harsh words such as "mock," "scorn," "derision," and "ridicule," causing many pedestrian readers to assume satire is as blatant as melodramtically delivered sarcasm. For those readers who have delved beyond the muckraking versions of satire, however, there is awareness of a deft artistic stroke to using satire that can go missing amid wonderfully told tales.
Walter Moers is one such author who can paint a fantastical story which is entertaining and amusing all the while exposing authorial beliefs amid slight exagerations and revelations, and the book most aligned with this subtle ability for satire is "The City of Dreaming Books." The third book in a series about Zamonia, an island of creatures, monsters, and talking animals, takes on the ideology of publishing and mediocrity within literary circles. Following a budding artist through the story, the reader is exposed to corruption, starvation, and the ultimate artistic desire for a muse to raise one's work above the plethora of competition in the literary world. The fact the main character is a highly educated talking dinosaur does little to lessen the impact and depth of Moers' commentary and understanding.
The series, which begins with a child-like excitement in "The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear," reaches a culmination of artistry, satire, and talent in "The City of Dreaming Books" that leaves a reader wondering how Moers is capable of such amazing literary heights and can leave fellow writers awestruck at his story weaving abilities. On the surface, all the books in Moers' Zamonia series are beautifully told tales of adventure and curiousity. For those who seek a bit more substance to their reading, Moers is able to deliver satire and subtlety even those most elitist of readers can appreciate. Ultimately, Walter Moers is able to use tongue-in-cheek humor and satire to amuse the readers while clearly stating personal beliefs regarding the business of writing.