In the Shadows Cast by Light Boxes

Put on your light boxes and draw a mint bath. February approaches and we must be prepared. Light Boxes by Shane Jones is a tale of a town trapped in the weather and will of February. Balloons and birds fall from the sky; the design of February begins its dominion.

Thaddeus Lowe, his wife Selah and their daughter Bianca protest the death of flight by drawing ghosts of the colorful levitations behind mirrors and under teacups. In the town, a collection of men wearing bird masks and calling themselves The Solution approach Thaddeus to do more than doodle in secret. A war is brewing against February.

From here the plot begins to evanesce as reason eludes capture. February is an idea, a man, a season, a state of mind; it's harsh and scary, embarrassed about itself, wants to change and isn’t even really February. It's at this point that Light Boxes truly feels like a dream – the more you try to focus on it, the more convoluted it becomes.

Jones’ alien view of images throughout the beginning was enjoyable. “The priests dipped their lanterns into the fabric of the balloons” is certainly a poetic image of setting things on fire. Not riveting, but new and refreshing. But this folk tale world fades away as the story transitions and leaves behind just about all of the things that were entrancing. It grows startlingly dark and modern as it becomes an allegory for a sad, depressed writer (probably overwrought by February as well).

I wish the book, short as it was, would have ended halfway through. I enjoyed the fable of seasonal depression; the mood, the season and the mindset of the characters. Thaddeus puts it so well when he desperately hopes, in a tone trying to convince himself, “that everything doesn’t end with February.”

On a superficial level, it’s fun to enjoy the experience. The abstract dream world Jones creates is an invigorating divergence from the “traditional” novel. But once the reader looks for meaning or substance, it flits away. At the end all that remains is the lingering smoke one gets after the torches are snuffed out.

Excerpt from Light Boxes:
List Found in February’s Cottage Detailing
Possible Cures for February
1. Valerian root and vitamin C tablets taken in the dark
2. Yoga and meditation
3. The melting of snow in children’s palms
4. Light boxes?
5. Hot baths taken with mint extract
6. Touching the moon in places the moon doesn’t know exist
7. Consumption of St. John’s wort
8. Feeding the garden inside
9. Giving Bianca back
10. Twisting your fears into desires
11. Mood diary
12. Hydrating the body
13. Paying attention to the girl who smells of honey and smoke
                                                                            Courtesy of Publishing Genius Press

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This work by H.E. Saunders is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.