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Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  113 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Like his legendary Hogg, The Mad Man, and the million-seller Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany’s major new novel Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders—explicit, poetic, philosophical, and, yes, shocking—propels readers into a gay sexual culture unknown to most urban gay men and women, a network of rural gay relations—with the twist that this one is supported by the homophile ...more
Paperback, 872 pages
Published April 17th 2012 by Magnus Books (first published February 1st 2011)
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I am a huge fan of Samuel R. Delany’s early Science Fiction novels, Nova and Dhalgren in particular, but up until now I had only ever ventured as far as Triton and never had read anything of his later work (although I do own a copy of most of it, I just had not gotten around to read any of it). With Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders (his first novel in five years) just having been released, it seemed like a good start, and a nice complement to read his latest after having finished one of ...more
Apr 30, 2012 J. rated it liked it
I want to say better things about this novel, because Delany is a hero of mine...but it's bad. Firstly, I understand the theoretical underpinnings--this is moral, theoretically sound, pornography. I get that Delany's point is that it is ridiculous for us to say it is okay for someone to lust after one body part and yet feel disgust about others. So he leans heavy on the extreme sex, playing on disgust to force us in to a situation where we have to see that. The problem is that the endless scenes ...more
Aug 23, 2012 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is a book that takes porn serious, even after it stops being porn.

This is a book in which the main characters get everything they want, living largely outside of electoral politics, scientific developments (it's a sci-fi novel, but most of the sci-fi elements happen without the characters being directly affected by them), and economics (as their ways are basically paid for), until they grow old (most of them) and die. And the question is: What sort of life can you forge in a post-scarcity,
Dec 22, 2012 Gerhard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, favorites
What a tough book to read; I put this down many a time for something else, as the minutely-described sexual perversions of the main characters -- whose 70-year-long relationship is the lodestone of this novel -- simply become overwhelming. You really have to work at liking these guys ... And then when suddenly the years and decades begin to slip away for the characters, you get a glimpse of the immensity of Delany's project: what is a good life? How does one live it? How do you make a place for ...more
Jan 29, 2013 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At 804 pages, this is easily the longest book I've ever read and it was sprawling, titillating, gloriously boring, tediously explicit, shocking and thoughtful and endearing. A history of the love of one interracial gay couple, their friends, their families, their sexual exploits (which are likely to challenge the biases of most readers), the book sprawls out to consider human nature, our place in the universe, what it means to live in the world, and how memory shapes and twists and changes our p ...more
I glanced through the beginning of this & it's awful. It might have a point, but I'm not going to wade through gross gay porn to find it. I don't mind sex in a novel if it has a point, but there didn't seem any point save just how gross he could be.
May 13, 2012 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As "Internet puppy" Charlie Stross blogged the other day, “We're living in the 21st century: it's not possible to write a novel that seriously explores modern life without a background that includes rapid, cheap international travel: the commercial space industry: smartphones and the internet and spam: social networking sites, Facebook and Twitter: the rapidly shifting reference points of life expectancy, gender roles, and politics.” Thus my first impression, reading the first half of TTVOTNOS, ...more
Brent Hayward
Sep 02, 2013 Brent Hayward rated it it was amazing
In simple terms, one theory for what seems to be the acceleration of time over the progression of life is that time itself tightens, in mathematical proportions, to the total span lived: a decade to a twenty-year-old is a significant chunk of their life, and thus slower than the same decade to a person of sixty. Delany’s large and insanely powerful novel drives this theory home.

A teenager, moving from Atlanta to Diamond Harbour, on the Georgia Coast, has a crazy encounter with nearly every chara
Joey Diamond
Aug 22, 2012 Joey Diamond rated it it was amazing
It's funny that goodreads ate my long review of this TWICE, because in some ways, I'm really undecided about what to write about this 800 page filthy faggot porno love story about getting old.

So here are some thoughts:

* So much snot. Gross. Not nearly as much scat as other reviews would make you think.

* If you liked The Mad Man you need to read this. And to know that it's a bit like a riff on the section where Leaky describes his childhood. Yes every second word is "nigger" and there is loads of
Aug 12, 2015 David rated it it was ok
Viewed as an exercise, this is an extremely challenging one: Delany set himself the task of tracing a couple throughout their entire adult lives, during which time (seventy years) virtually nothing - in conventional plot terms - happens. They live inside a social experiment bankrolled by an offstage zillionaire, so their basic food/shelter/healthcare needs are provided for, and there's next to no conflict either within or from outside their community - practically everyone they meet is as improb ...more
THROUGH THE VALLEY... starts in 2007 and shoots decades into the future; I read four or five hundred pages before I saw anything recognizably "science fiction" which speaks, I think, to Delany's phenomenally subtle world-building.

Trigger warnings for basically anything sexual (specifically including sexual violence, incest, intergenerational sex). As with THE MAD MAN or HOGG, best not to read over lunch. As with THE MAD MAN or HOGG, expect to be personally challenged on pretty much every page.
Jan 15, 2016 Macartney rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gay-lit, best-of-2015
A masterpiece. A beautiful love story. Sweeping and epic but also so simple and intimate. Brilliantly follows characters and a town over some 70 years, resulting in the best description and exploration of aging and gentrification/development I've ever come across. Graphic, in-your-face, unapologetic scenes of sex, sex, and more sex; the sheer volume and sustained presence of which has an effect of almost rewiring perceptions of sexual mores, of good and bad, of hot and not. An embodiment and exp ...more
Aug 25, 2012 Colin rated it really liked it
I only got about halfway through this before I had to return it to the library. Definitely want to finish it at some point. The first 400 pages are Filthy. Delany's doing interesting stuff here, explicitly pushing the envelope on what's "dirty," "acceptable," "moral," "comfortable" and "queer." And, it's Hot. Unabashedly Queer Smut as Respectable Library Literature. Thanks Samuel Delany, well played. And thanks for purchasing it, Seattle Public Libraries. Can't imagine this'd get bought in many ...more
Apr 26, 2012 Tamahome marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Locusmag review:

It's out in ebook.

The kindle free ebook sample is pretty long, 2000 kindle units (100 pages?).

If the book has sexual material similar to his later mainstream books, it'll be pretty rough. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Feb 10, 2015 Jeff rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I didn't finish this one--didn't make it much past 100 pages. I "get" that this is an amazing work in various ways, and I'm not put off by the sex at all; I also get that there is a payoff in later chapters. I am not willing to work that hard for the payoff. Maybe someday.
May 26, 2012 Vladimir rated it it was amazing
Shelves: transgression, srd
Initially disturbing, eventually illuminating. Though vastly different from Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, TVNS is Delany's closest novel to the 1984 masterpiece. It is also his best long work since then.
Jamie Freeman
Jun 30, 2012 Jamie Freeman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Keep reading. The first few hundred pages lay the groundwork for spectacular things to come. Not for the sexually squeamish or prissy, but if you can wade in and let yourself be carried along to the poetic, transcendent conclusion you will find it well worth the time.
Apr 20, 2014 E rated it it was amazing
There are spoilers below. It's impossible to write anything meaningful about this book without mentioning major events. I don't think it'll be spoiled even if you read the review, but I'll leave it up to you.

(For context, I've read a pile of Delany, including The Mad Man and Dark Reflections, Bread and Wine, Heavenly Breakfast and Stars in My Pocket..., but not includin
Clay Brown
Samuel Delany’s newest novel Through The Valley Of The Nest Of Spiders is not accessible by any means.

The story of two young men who meet, fall in love and stay with one another for over 50 years. Eric Jeffers is a young white boy/man (16) living with his adopted black father in Atlanta. In these very first pages it’s understood quickly by the reader that ‘Nest’ isn’t filled with easy going subject matter… but with very Dark Matter.

Eric spends his time having sex with black homeless men under At
Laura Eilers
Jan 15, 2015 Laura Eilers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book blindly because of the title and the author. I have loved some of Samuel R. Delany’s past science fiction novels, and that’s how I thought of him – a Science Fiction writer and only a Science Fiction writer. Combine that with the title and I thought I couldn’t go wrong with a blind buy like this.
You know what they say about assumptions.
I’m still puzzling over what I think of this novel. When I first started it, I was immediately plunged into a lake of hardcore gay erotica. Tha
Jun 07, 2013 Scot rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book like no other. Most people will hate it, and complain that not only is it pornography, it is defiantly self-absorbed pornography preening as it wallows in its own vulgar excess and deliberate sensationalism. And at more than 800 pages, that is a lot of pornography to get through, even for the most dedicated perverts.

However, for the admittedly small group of people who are willing to allow their own beliefs about what is acceptable to be challenged in the philosophical pursuit of
Jan magdalene
Mar 02, 2015 Jan magdalene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Don't even know where to start with this one... maybe, to start, I don't think i would recommend it to most people because of the way the book deals pretty constantly with really heavy shit around childhood sexuality and sexual abuse in a way that is -with good reason- not moralistic or prescriptive enough for some people. i think it is totally fair for people to despise books for the ways they interacts with your own existence and this book is horrible and triggering and upsetting in a lot of w ...more
Feb 26, 2015 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this was the most bipolar book reading experience I've ever had. I also have never read a book like this before.

For the first 430 pages, I hated this book. It's not just that the incessant barrage of nasty sex scenes--piss drinking, mucous eating, and more--grossed me out; they did, but mostly the book was just really, really boring. After, say, the fiftieth time that Eric talks about how much he enjoys drinking piss or the tenth scene in which Dynamite gets off wearing a used, full cond
Captain Skyhawk
Jun 28, 2015 Captain Skyhawk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: John Waters
Recommended to Captain by: Coilhouse Magazine
Well, if you're looking for a "traditional" Delany SF story, this ain't it. (It really ain't much of a "traditional" anything!)

Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders is largely a tale of the lives of two men, in a relationship, as they spend their years growing older together throughout the 21st century. Like in quite a few Delaney novels, the larger world is mostly a backdrop to the emotional journey of the main characters, and this book is no exception -- you will spend 80-85% of your time
Aug 28, 2016 Dato rated it it was amazing
Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders is Delany surgically excising from your body any association between physical repugnance and moral value.

Numerous reviewers write: “Delany is making a point, but he overdoes it by 400 pages.”

Delany is not making a point; he is just offering a rocky valley for you to willingly negotiate your way through it. That is: Delany’s Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders is not there to be read, but to be read-lived.

It may not change your life, but it will rec
Buck Doyle
Dec 20, 2013 Buck Doyle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So maybe since I give so many things five stars it devalues them because this is like the MOST five stars thing in existence for me… it’s a vulgar sprawling epic gay dude love story, over a lifetime, starting nowish and stretching so far…

gah I just can’t even deal, I just finished it, I’ve spent the last week in this world, and it’s so intense! I have no one to talk to about it!

It addresses so many things, race, class, community, capitalism, taboos, history, etc etc fucking wow

hmm I don’t know,
Katie King
May 09, 2012 Katie King is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
A new Delany book is always a must get and a must read!

What are the reading protocols for epic Delany? (Different perhaps than other variant Delany types?)

Frankly I start at the end. (I know this is hard for some to take in. I hope it is not something Delany himself would loathe, but still....)

I need the context -- I need to have double or multiple consciousness when reading the BIG Delanys.

Frankly, I learned this protocol from learning to read Joyce at U Chicago in the old days: to enter in a
Dec 30, 2016 Sandy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this book so much, it pains me that you can't recommend it to 99% of everyone because of the vivid descriptions of consensual incest, man-boy relationships, bestiality, intense racial fetishism - I mean, really, the descriptions of shit eating are close to the least challenging thing on offer! But all this is in the service of a really joyous ethical vision. And over the course of 800-odd pages, it builds up an extraordinary emotional power - the last few pages must be (some of?) the most ...more
May 07, 2013 Kristen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Community, identity and historicity are explored in this moving tale of the relationship between two men through the end of the 21st century. Not quite a utopia, not quite science fiction, not really porn (unless you find 120 Days of Sodom to be porn), this book uses many hallmarks of those genres to be something else entirely. It says a lot more about my culture and times than most books I have read, while doing so through some of the most (seemingly) marginalized characters I have ever experie ...more
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Samuel Ray Delany, also known as "Chip," is an award-winning American science fiction author. He was born to a prominent black family on April 1, 1942, and raised in Harlem. His mother, Margaret Carey Boyd Delany, was a library clerk in the New York Public Library system. His father, Samuel Ray Delany, Senior, ran a successful Harlem undertaking establishment, Levy & Delany Funeral Home, on 7t ...more
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“To be sure, the Road of Excess leads to the Palace of Wisdom, even when it takes you through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders. Just watch out for parasites.” 6 likes
“What's more, I was free to do anything that did not hurt others that strengthened me and helped me in the one thing that we are all put on this earth to do: help one another - because it is the only thing that, in the long run, gives us pleasure, as receiving love and friendship and affection is the only thing that gives us joy and ameliorates the dread of our inevitable extinction.” 4 likes
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