The Night Circus is published in the UK in paperback this week, and to celebrate Vintage have organised a pretty cool blog tour featuring extracts and other fun things. If you're nor too familiar with the book, here's what it's all about:
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. The black sign, painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, reads: Opens at Nightfalll Closes at Dawn As the sun disappears beyond the horizon, all over the tents small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears. Le Cirque des Rêves The Circus of Dreams. Now the circus is open. Now you may enter.
You can also find out more at the Vintage site here.
As part of the blog tour I have an exclusive extract for you guys to read as well as a giveaway that you will find at the bottom of this page. Hope you enjoy this little taste of The Night Circus!
Excerpt from Nights at the Circus: The Collected Writings of Friedrick S. Thiessen (1905) Original article first published March 21st, 1895.
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Chicago Columbian Exposition with my friend Mr. Ethan Barris. We both remarked on multiple occasions that it was reminiscent of Le Cirque des Rêves, only on a grander scale.
Mr. Barris was particularly taken with the remarkable observation wheel of Mr. Ferris, and said that he might like to create something similar for the circus. I imagined a wheel towering over the striped tents and thought it would be fitting.
What Mr. Barris devised is something rather different. Truly, I doubt anyone who rides The Stargazer would guess that the work of Mr. Ferris provided the inspiration for it. I would never fathom as much had I not been privy to its development.
The Stargazer is only open to the public when the night is clear. On cloudy, overcast nights it is closed. It is, as far as I know, the only attraction in the circus with such stipulations.
When one enters the tent, they are met with a long, winding staircase that is often occupied by the waiting line. On the walls there are diagrams, framed maps of constellations. At the top of the stair there is a small platform. From the platform there is nothing to be seen but blackness and a white-costumed circus worker who guides riders to their seats.
The seats, which are something like a sleigh or carriage, move slowly along the edge of the platform. They do not stop completely, but they move gently enough to enter or exit carefully. Inside they are quite comfortable, cushioned seats with high backs and walls, all in deepest black. They might sit three or four people across, though most ride solo or in pairs.
When the slowly-moving cart reaches the end of the platform, some hinge or other clever mechanism releases and the cart falls just a bit and sways as if it is only suspended from above, though it is too dark to discern how. At the same time it tilts backwards. And once in a reclining position, one can understand how The Stargazer was so named.
The tent has no top. The upper portion of it is open, uncovered. The night sky is fully visible above. The elevated height removes any horizon or tree line, the high walls of the cart disrupt all peripheral vision. One is left with nothing but an expanse of stars and darkness.
It is different from watching the stars on one’s back in a field, both because of the altered perspective and because the gentle swaying of the cart adds a sensation of weightlessness.
There is no sound in the Stargazer. It is preternaturally quiet. Though there are other riders traveling in a slow circle, they can be neither seen nor heard. It is a wondrous experience, peaceful and lulling. Sometimes I feel it seems too soon when I reach the platform again, guided by another circus worker to another stair, this one descending back from the heavens to the ground. It is an amazing feat of engineering, the great wheel turned on its side. Though I think perhaps part of the charm is that the work of the engineer remains invisible.
Of course, the experiences at Le Cirque des Rêves range from such remarkable feats of engineering and architecture to tents that are simple and straightforward in their construction, though no less wondrous. There is one such tent that I am rather fond of, myself.
It is called The Drawing Room. The interior of the tent is something like a gallery, with walls along the sides and partitions spread throughout the space. Not a large room, it is low-ceilinged and almost cozy. The walls alternate from solid black in some sections to solid white in others, and there are bowls and bowls of chalk. The bowls, which are black or white depending on which color chalk they contain, are suspended in the air with cords or sunken into the ground. The chalk itself comes in different sizes, thin and thick to produce different lines. It creates remarkably little dust. You may draw whatever you wish, wherever you wish. I find I spend more time looking at the images and words left by others than I do making my own, though I never leave the tent without leaving something behind. A bird or quotation or, if I am feeling particularly artistic, a rendition of a clock. It is freeing to design a clock without worrying oneself about the mechanics of it. It lives on the wall, frozen at a specific time and not ticking. Though perhaps then it is not really a clock at all, and simply the idea of a clock. I suppose it does not matter. I find it enjoyable.
I cannot resist entering The Drawing Room whenever I happen upon it, for it is always unique. Because it is an interactive experience, it is different every night. There are always new images to see. The drawings will range from the haphazard scrawls of children to beautiful renditions drawn by clearly gifted hands. Often there are images culled from the rest of the circus: cats or acrobats or mythological creatures from the Carousel. And every night it is different. I imagine at the end of each night the walls are cleaned of chalk and left as blank canvas for the next evening. Though even when I have visited The Drawing Room at an early hour, there is much to be seen upon its walls. Perhaps some circus members add their own drawings before opening time so there is something for those early visitors to see. Or perhaps it is just one of the many little mysteries of the circus.
I have two (2) shiny new paperback copies of The Night Circus to give away, courtesy of Vintage. All you have to do is fill in the form below. Good luck!
Rules & info:
- Open to UK only.
- End date: June 2nd, 2012.
- One entry per person.
- You do NOT have to follow my blog to enter.
- Books will be sent out by the publisher.