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Strange Bodies: A Novel

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  1,344 Ratings  ·  186 Reviews
A dizzying novel of deception and metempsychosis by the author of the National Book Award finalist Far North



Whatever this is, it started when Nicholas Slopen came back from the dead.

In a locked ward of a notorious psychiatric hospital sits a man who insists that he is Dr. Nicholas Slopen, failed husband and impoverished Samuel Johnson scholar. Slopen has been dead fo
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Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 4th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published April 30th 2013)
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
I have been circling this novel since I saw it listed on The Millions Great 2014 Book Preview. Without a lot of books I had to read at home, it found its way into my pile from the library.

I think the author has attempted to combine some of the topics he is deeply interested in into one novel, when really they may have been better served divided at least into two. The thread following all the way through is a discussion on what makes a person human, through a scenario that puts a person's ideas (
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Marvin
Jan 25, 2014 Marvin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Strange Bodies is science fiction. But it is the kind of science fiction that is a springboard for larger conceits. In this way, it is similar to the novels of Margaret Atwood and Doris Lessing in that it is much more interested in philosophical examination than future speculation. The author Marcel Theroux has written a novel about identity and the state of reality. That put him in the company of a definitive sci-fi author, Philip K. Dick. Yet Theroux throws another philosophical log on the fir ...more
Joanne Sheppard
May 11, 2013 Joanne Sheppard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In an age when our written words are more publicly available than ever, thanks to blogging, social networking, self-published e-books and internet message boards, Marcel Theroux’s Strange Bodies presents us with a prospect that seems even more sinister than it otherwise might: the notion that our personalities, our consciousness, our very being, could be reproduced solely from our written output.

Told through a combination of written forms including a psychiatrist’s case notes and the memoir of o
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Gerhard
Nov 22, 2014 Gerhard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
This is a perfunctory and dour thriller that attempts to update the Frankenstein story, with mixed results. The ending is elegant and rather sad, but is a case of too little, too late. The big problem here is that the main protagonist, Nicholas, is so unlikeable that not even his doppelganger likes himself; which poses a bit of a problem for the reader.

I got the feeling reading this that Marcel Theroux himself failed to believe sufficiently in his hypothesis of using language to ‘code’ human con
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Liviu
(FBC rv, all links and related stuff there):

After Far North (FBC short rv), the wonderfully written but pretty banal in content as a run of the mill post-apocalyptic story that could have been so much more, I kept an eye on any new offerings from Marcel Theroux, so Strange Bodies went my "wanted list" the moment I found about it.

The blurb above strongly reminded me of 9 Tail Fox, the second of a loose trilogy by J.C. Grimwood which imho is arguably the best recent series of near-future literary
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Leah
Apr 21, 2013 Leah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘What makes me, me? What makes you, you?’ Cat Stevens

When Nicholas Slopen turns up at the shop of an old friend, she is stunned. He looks completely different, his voice is different but, most surprisingly of all, she’d heard he’d died the year before. And yet once they start talking, she is soon convinced that it is indeed he.

This intelligent and very well written book poses the question – what makes us, us? Can we be defined, summed up, by the words we speak? What if we are sundered irrevocabl
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Tamsen
Jul 23, 2015 Tamsen rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-favorites
Whoa. Compelling. A modern retelling of (view spoiler). I'm adding spoiler tags, simply because I am a firm believer that you shouldn't spoil books by reading too much about them (or films by watching the trailers, or men by googling their names). Half the fun of anything is letting an author/a director/your new hot date reveal themselves to you.

And wow, I think that's why I liked this. Theroux reveals the novel piece by piece to you. I felt like I k
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Cathi Davis
Nick Slopen aka "victor" a "reincarnated" Russian peasant. The Common Purpose sneaks in around mid book, after an opening that is mysterious and, yes, strange. One who is ...but does not appear to be. I didn't realize this was SCience Fiction,,,it is so very firmly rooted in today, mundanely detailed in Facebbok, the internet, the minutiae of everyday life, and yet collides with the question of what is identity? The SF concept...that personality can be transferred to another's living self..suppl ...more
Emme
Mar 06, 2014 Emme rated it it was ok
If I could give this 2.5 stars, I would. Strange bodies, strange read. My god, it was a trudge to get through. The most annoying part was that it was JUST interesting enough to force me to keep reading it through to the end, but getting there was such a damn headache. There was just too much philosophy forced into the plot in such a heavy-handed way. Also, the main character, Nicholas Slopen, is a Samuel Johnson scholar. Who the hell is Samuel Johnson?!? Is this just a UK or maybe English major ...more
Kaita
Dec 08, 2015 Kaita rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favorites
5/5 I love this book.
The characters are fantastic, as are the perspectives. There is a twist later on that I adore, and it really opens up the world.
This is set in pretty modern times, and deals with science fiction themes, but has a feel of the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. It is complex and beautifully written. My favourite characters were "Jack" and another that will spoil everything if I give the name...
As an added bonus, the ending is just perfect.

Also, if you're looking for a book with
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James Harris
Strange Bodies is clever book, with a clever protagonist and a clever central conceit. Sadly it's almost too clever: while I think the style is deliberately quite dry and formal, evoking as it does 19th century works like Frankenstein, the effect is a bit distancing on an emotional level. So I kept turning the pages to see what happened next, but I wouldn't say I particularly cared. Clever though. Very clever.
Laurie Notaro
May 18, 2015 Laurie Notaro rated it it was amazing
A modern day Frankenstein story that challenges what we believe about identity, experience and individuality. Masterfully suspenseful, subtlety written. Mind bender. I ate this book up. Gobbled it. Highly recc.
L.A. Starks
Feb 19, 2015 L.A. Starks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Without revealing much this is a good twist to the mystery-thriller format, although it takes a while for the action to unfold.
Coral Davies
If I could I would give this 3.5 stars out of 5 but I can't, and it's just not good enough for 4 stars.

So the premise is that one man's consciousness (Nicky Slopen) has been "transplanted" from one body to another following his assumed demise. Nicky then attempts to communicate this transference with little success; he finds himself in a mental institute. Eventually he manages to escape, tracking down a former lover and dying (for a second time) in her living room, hiding under a chair a USB ke
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Sluggish Neko
Apr 29, 2015 Sluggish Neko rated it liked it
I read a lot of sci-fi, so I easily guessed the true nature of the asylum patient who claims to be Dr. Nicholas Slopen, a Samuel Johnson academic who is already dead, and how it was related to the strange forger of Samuel Johnson letters who Dr. Slopen befriends. The science of it all isn't satisfying, but the novel's exploration of the nature of consciousness and identity is intriguing in a philosophical way. As a bonus, because Slopen is a well-read narrator, the various poems referenced compl ...more
Sarah
Jun 07, 2014 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite the 3 star rating I have given this book, I quite enjoyed it and would like to say its closer to 3.5 - 3.75 stars.

The story captivated me from the beginning, presenting an interesting narrative and several ideas that I will admit are too big for my brain to comprehend.

Due to the questions I found myself pondering relating to the self, consciousness and being, I would probably categorise Strange Bodies as philosophical fiction, rather than sci-fi as some reviews suggest.

I look forward t
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Stacia
Jun 18, 2014 Stacia rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of thrillers, Frankenstein, Samuel Johnson &/or anyone who wants to be cryogenically preserved
Enjoyable -- seemed like a smart, fast-paced thriller (I guess that's the category it might be in?). It had some serious overtones of Frankenstein throughout, including the same melancholic tone pervading the story, imo. It raised some interesting philosophical questions about the nature of self & what makes a person.

A smart beach read, if you don't mind a little melancholy with your day in the sand....
Rachel
Apr 27, 2013 Rachel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really struggled to get into this book and I can honestly say that I didn't begin to enjoy reading it until 70% in! I almost gave up and marked it as 'Did not finish' on three occasions but something compelled me to keep reading; I don't know what because I found it boring and slow. I didn't understand a lot of what was happening and found it to be almost non fictional/autobiographical with it's complicated writing. I don't know, maybe I am not intellectual enough for this book.
Xavi
Jun 19, 2014 Xavi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: llegits-2014
una novela con un punto de partida interesante, pero demasiado densa para mi gusto porque alarga la historia innecesariamente pasando de puntillas sobre la parte de la trama que más me interesaba.
http://dreamsofelvex.blogspot.com/201...
Amanda
Jan 22, 2014 Amanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: murder-mystery
I love literary fiction and a good literary murder mystery and this book certainly covers those requirements, but the unexpected (to me) science fiction twist was not to my taste so I gave up on this one. Just not my thing.
Anne Goodwin
An engaging novel about identity, madness and the relationship between mind and body.
More at http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/...
Debbie
Nov 17, 2014 Debbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All
Recommended to Debbie by: Goodreads
This would have been even better if I understood the mechanics of this particular brand of Frankenstienism but what I got and the fascinating characters and relationships between them were different and kept me reading.
Tudor Ciocarlie
Wonderful, intelligent and well written book, that uses the science-fiction tools to talk about what makes us who we are. It reminded me very much of Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg.
Erin Britton
May 09, 2017 Erin Britton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Susanna Laidlaw-Robinson receives an unexpected visit from her ex-boyfriend Nicky Slopen she’s more than a little surprised – she had, after all, heard that Nicky had died in a road accident about a year earlier. Still, despite that initial alive/dead hiccup, the visit goes pretty well and so when Nicky turns up again, more bedraggled and incoherent this time, Susanna does take pains to help him although everything takes a quick turn for the weird when Nicky dies later that evening in the m ...more
James
The Theroux family has an impressive literary heritage. I first encountered Paul Theroux, an American travel writer and novelist, through reading his popular and mesmerizing travel narrative The Great Railway Bazaar. I also enjoyed his novel, The Mosquito Coast, that won the 1981 James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Then there is his brother, Alexander, who is a writer and artist whose Darconville's Cat: A Novel is a Rabelaisian epic both in its words and multiple styles. But there is a new generati ...more
Alison Lafferty
Mar 19, 2017 Alison Lafferty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow how had I never heard of Marcel Theroux? This book was incredible, it offered a non-sci-fi look at a usually sci-fi topic, immortality and full body transplant. However, it does this from a distinctly literary perspective, centered around Samuel Johnson, arguably the most famous British lexicographer to ever exist. The concepts were original, the writing was entertaining and beautiful and everything I want in good prose. I love this novel.
Colby
Jun 18, 2014 Colby rated it liked it
My disbelief was so suspended... I was ready to believe anything. Love this author, not so much this book, which was a page-turner for me until I read WHAT the procedure actually is. A disappointment. Too much didn't fit. Maybe the fact-base was too broad? If he had let himself fictionalize his work a little more, get more Atwood-ish, he could really have come up with something new. Maybe he tied himself too much to the Common Task.

"For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be an academic - eve
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Bored to Death book club
For every book we read during the book club, one of our book club members will write a review. This way anyone who couldn’t be there, can still join in with the fun! Our tenth book is Strange Bodies by Marcel Theroux and the review is written by Roy den Boer.

An author trying to bend genre fiction into literature has been going on for a while now. The author decides that a much maligned genre (like science fiction, like crime) can be real literature. The whole debate is a construct by critics who
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Churchmouse
Mar 04, 2017 Churchmouse rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not for a moment did I believe in the premise behind "The Procedure". I had no liking for the main character. I experienced no tension, no suspense, no excitement, not a single thought provoking moment.

Increasingly, my hopes for this book dissipated and it became a process of reading words until they stopped and I was filled then with an immense sense of relief.
Sooz
May 21, 2014 Sooz rated it really liked it
so i recently finished a mystery/sci-fi hybrid which looked at language and technology and what the future might hold .... AND had a lot to say about Samuel Johnson. it was called Word Exchange. today, i finished Strange Bodies which is about language/thoughts, technology and the future ... and it too has a lot to say about Samuel Johnson. spooky ehe Mulder?

of the two, Strange Bodies, is by far the better novel, and it took me by complete surprise. i'd read Marcel Theroux's earlier novel, Far No
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Marcel (Raymond) Theroux is a British novelist and broadcaster. He is the older son of the American travel writer and novelist, Paul Theroux. His younger brother, Louis Theroux, is a journalist and television reporter.

Born in Kampala, Uganda, Theroux was brought up in Wandsworth, London. After attending a state primary school he boarded at Westminster School. He went on to study English at Clare C
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“Literature itself is a species of code. You line up symbols and create a simulacrum of life.” 2 likes
“He didn't seem conventionally insane in any way that I could understand. But there was no way of comprehending him. In some eerie and fundamental way, he didn't appear to belong to our world. But that didn't seem the same as being mad.” 1 likes
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