Short Story Review: “Freewheeling” by Charles de Lint

5 of 5 stars.

A world view can be beautiful as much as any object, scene or person. And a beautiful world view can verge on magical. This magical tale brings together two characters with beautiful world views, different though they may be. However, when those world views abrade against limited imagination of the real world and the larger society, they prove ephemeral.

Zinc lives for a world of art–a fleeting expression with deep underpinnings toward freedom. Following his beliefs leads him to make inexplicable choices by standard judgment. He cuts the locks off of bicycles so they can find freedom. He busts streetlights, to free the light . . .

You didn’t make art by capturing an image on paper, or canvas, or in stone. You didn’t make it by writing down stories and poems. Music and dance came closest to what real art was–but only so long as you didn’t try to record or film it. Musical notation was only so much dead ink on paper. Choreography was planning, not art.

You could only make art by setting it free. Anything else was just a memory, no matter how you stored it. On film or paper, sculpted or recorded.

Everything that existed, existed in a captured state. Animate or inanimate, everything wanted to be free.

Jilly has a soft spot for street kids like Zinc, those that nobody understands. She sees in him something magical, and yet fragile. And she stands as the only barrier between him and a cultural system that would run him over.

Most days he could take care of himself just fine, but there was a fey streak in him so that sometimes he carried a touch of the magic that ran wild in the streets, the magic that was loose late at night when the straights were in bed and the city belonged to the night people. That magic took up lodgings in people like Zinc. For a week. A day. An hour. Didn’t matter if it was real or not, if it couldn’t be measured or cataloged, it was real to them. It existed all the same.

This fully realized story is as beautiful and yet tragic as its two main characters. It is highly recommended.

This tale appears in Street Magicks edited by Paula Guran. I received this new anthology from Netgalley. The short story was originally published in Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine, Issue 6 [Winter 1990].
[Check out my other reviews here.]


2 responses to “Short Story Review: “Freewheeling” by Charles de Lint

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