Friday, December 26, 2008

'Sabine's Notebook' and 'The Golden Mean'

BEWARE: Blurbs contain spoilers!

Sabine’s Notebook: In Which The Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Continues
by Nick Bantock
Fiction/Art, 1992
Raincoast Books, hardback, 44 p.
Griffin & Sabine, Book 2
Sabine was supposed to be imaginary, a friend and lover that Griffin had created to soothe his loneliness. But she threatens to become embodied – to appear on his doorstep, in fact.
Faced with the terrifying prospect of meeting his own fictional character, Griffin runs. His journey begins conventionally – tracing a course through Europe and the Mediterranean – but slowly Griffin begins to realize that he is travelling backward in time, drifting through layers of dead civilizations and his own soul. His precarious link to reality is the possibly unreal Sabine, who is living in his house in London and keeping a notebook of his letters and her responses.

The Golden Mean: In Which The Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Concludes
by Nick Bantock
Fiction/Art, 1993
Raincoast Books, hardback, 44 p.
Griffin & Sabine, Book 3
Sabine’s Notebook ended with a disturbing disclosure – Griffin and Sabine had somehow eluded each other once again. The Golden Mean begins with an even more disturbing development.
It seems that each cannot exist in the presence of the other. Yet neither can continue without the presence of the other. And so, in this final volume of the Griffin & Sabine trilogy, they struggle against the mysterious forces that keep them apart. Time is running out: Sabine’s crystalline visions of Griffin’s artwork grow cloudy and dim, and a threatening stranger begins to appear everywhere she goes. The Golden Mean is the tale of Griffin and Sabine’s journey towards one another, sometimes dreamy, sometimes desperate, sometimes nightmarish. The golden mean – the harmony of perfect balance – is what they seek in the haunting conclusion of this extraordinary correspondence.
Along with the first book in the trilogy (my review here), these two books continue the bizarre, yet fascinating tale of Griffin & Sabine. It really is a wonderfully surreal story, which actually reminded me a little bit of Haruki Murakami but with the added bonus of some gorgeous illustrations. I did like the art in The Golden Mean a little bit more than in Sabine’s Notebook - such interesting combinations of colour, texture and styles – but it was all intriguing to look at.

The story meandered a bit in the second book as we follow Griffin’s journey and growing acceptance of what he had originally run from, but then in the third book there are even some elements of suspense as the story comes to an end. Or does it? I’m glad I finally got around to reading these properly (I’d only flipped through them before) and I’m sure I’ll pull the books off the shelf occasionally if only to admire the artwork again.

I’m curious now to read the second trilogy to see where else Nick Bantock’s imagination and collage-style art has taken this story. I also found a bargain-priced copy of his longer book Windflower, during our recent trip, which I look forward to reading too.

Author's website
Interview with the author

My Rating (for both books, and the trilogy as a whole): 4/5
(#55 and #56 for 2008, 2nds Challenge)

Also reviewed at:
Thoughts of Joy (trilogy)
Reminder: If you have read and reviewed this title, let me know and I'll link to it here.


  1. Gah! I kick myself every time I read a review of one of these books and realize that I STILL haven't gotten to them. Bad Andi!

  2. Ah, I so wish I could buy these books. Since they are klind of old, I can't just locate a PDF version as much as I would like and because of their age I can't ask for review copies. Damn the Bulgarian book market.

  3. I definitely want to read these someday. They sound so unique.

  4. Andi - You should! They really do take no time to read, although I keep stopping to admire the art. :)

    daydream - Nice to have you stop by! That's too bad that these books are so hard to find in Bulgaria. :(

    Nymeth - I think you'd like them. They had some of the trilogy sets on the bargain table and if I wasn't already loaded down I'd buy up a couple. Sorry.

  5. Yeah, hopefully I will be around more. I changed blogs from Blogger to LJ and didn't visit back to my blogroll. Now I relinked and am somewhat back. *grin*

  6. daydream - I don't really like Live Journal but of course I'll still visit you. :)
    Off to update my blogroll and Google Reader..

  7. Thank you! It means a lot to me, because I found a great writer community and my ties to the life patyh and creativity took a greater hold of me. I am here with my review blog and Blogger's new feature that let's me know who has posted when will make it easier to follow.

  8. daydream - No worries. Ya gotta go where ya gotta go! ;)

  9. I read these back in the mid-90s and loved them. The artwork and all made it such an interactive reading experience. Glad you enjoyed them!

  10. Lesley - Opening up the envelopes to read the letters was a lot of fun and certainly added to the reading experience. I'm looking forward to reading the second trilogy.


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