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Meeks: a novel
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Meeks: a novel

3.07 of 5 stars 3.07  ·  rating details  ·  140 ratings  ·  48 reviews
No woman will have Ben without a proper bachelor’s suit . . . and the tailor refuses to make him one. Back from war with a nameless enemy, Ben finds that his mother is dead and his family home has been reassigned by the state. As if that isn’t enough, he must now find a wife, or he’ll be made a civil servant and given a permanent spot in one of the city’s oppressive factor ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published August 1st 2010 by Small Beer Press (first published 2010)
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I read some of the other Goodreads reviews of this book, and, frankly, I'm a little surprised. (Espcially at the book's own proofreader, who gave it a negative review. Isn't that a conflict of interest? Bad business ethics? Talking smack in a public forum about a product put out by a company that also signs your checks? Eh, freelancers.) Yes, I can see how this isn't a book for everyone - it's a dystopia, not a utopia. Probably not headed for a happy ending, here. But it's imaginative and well-w ...more

In her impressive debut novel, Meeks, Julia Holmes examines the institutions of marriage, family, and social order amid a satirical dystopian setting. Through alternating narratives expressed in lucid prose, Holmes shows readers a society much like our own, where disappointment looms beneath a saccharine sweet surface.

Holmes intertwines the stories of Ben and Meeks, two citizens of a seemingly perfect and orderly world where everyone fits in their designat
Let me start by saying that I am in general a great fan of dystopian novels. I accept that sometimes you must carry on reading in the face of ignorance of the ways of a given dystopian world, hoping to learn more as you read. And so I read, and read, and read, waiting for the payoff where everything was going to become crystal clear and careen together into a point or conclusion or anything at all coherent. In the end, nothing surprising happened. The thing that was implied would happen at the b ...more
I usually ignore back cover text but for me this book was impossible to interpret without out it. It was not immediately obvious to me that some of the situations were intended to be funny and I didn't realize it until I'd gone back and read the description. It was also difficult to tell the characters apart because of their, no doubt intended, similarities.

The book reads like it is packed with meaning, hidden, lurking, decodable but by the end I felt no closer to understanding it than at the b
“Duly noted: the official exhortation to pursue one’s own happiness or be put to the task of generating happiness for others, or worse-to be not in the picture.”

Meeks is the first dystopian novel that I’ve ever read, and I’m glad I started the genre with an exceptionally good title. For in this imaginary world (if indeed it is imaginary rather than futuristic), nothing is as it seems. The complexities of life are narrowed down to the need for a good pale suit to woo in, and an appetite for lovel
Matt Leibel
One of my favorite debut novels in years. Actually earns the ever-popular/dreaded "Kafka-esque" tag, while doing something really new and exciting that makes it more poignant than a thought experiment. In an absurd-but-really-realized world where unmarried men must get married off or face horrible, draconian public consequences, our hapless hero tries to find a mate, but is hampered by awkwardness, and more damagingly, the lack of a proper gray suit (he only has a black mourning suit, which doom ...more
Holmes has created a fabulously surreal dystopia where to be married is the only way to find true happiness. Bachelors spend their days cultivating skills to impress ladies in what is essentially a lottery, and if they aren't successful, they are consigned to a life of civil service (or worse). Darkly comic and lyrical, MEEKS provides a unique satirical lens to look at our own changing perceptions of marriage, home life, and success.
Absolutely original. And guess who drew that cover?!?! Starts with a Robyn...
I abandoned this book after 70 pages. I hated it.
The originality of this novel is astonishing. Must read.
Alternates telling the story of two men in a society where a portion of the population is delegated to manufacture happiness for others to enjoy. Ben is a bachelor whose only hope to escape the work house is to have a girl choose him for marriage and Meeks (named for the society's founder) is a bum who plays at being a police officer. Many aspects of the society are portrayed as ridiculous (black humor): constant vigilance against an unseen/unknown enemy, the absolute necessity of having proper ...more
Catherine Siemann
May 05, 2010 Catherine Siemann rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Catherine by: Jedediah Berry
I can't help but use the work Kafkaesque when thinking about this novel, though the jacket copy helpfully provides Haruki Murakami as another, quite valid, point of comparison. This is in part the story of Ben, returned from military service and thrust into a "Bachelor House" from which he must attract a wife or face the consequences of becoming a "civil servant" -- a faceless municipal drone. My academic field is the nineteenth century novel, where the consequences of spinsterhood weigh heavily ...more
AJ LeBlanc
I did not understand this book. I felt like I was in high school trying to figure out why the teacher had made us read it. I understood the distopian setting but couldn't figure out who was really in charge. The Enemy was never explained, but that did make sense because the people were taught to believe in The Enemy without ever knowing (or even seeing) them.

The roles of women were fascinating but had nothing to do with the book other than to be vehicles for their men. I think I might have liked
As a guy who loves depressing books, it's kind of bizarre to hear myself say this but... this book was actually too depressing, even for the dystopian fiction genre. But the bigger problem with it is that unlike 1984, Brave New World, etc., the society in which the story takes place and the "historical context" that produced this society are never made sufficiently palpable to allow the reader to feel completely engaged with the characters and the plot-- the atmosphere is too murky and dim to ma ...more
Norman Lee Madsen
After having read the other 2 star reviews (read them, I concur) I have concluded that I have nothing further to add, other than to say that this short novel would have been better if it it had either been drastically cut down to a short story (where its slender idea would have had more impact) or expanded (and reworked) into a longer (and more insightful) story. As it stands now, I don't see why it was published. The first half was okay, the second dragged interminably - I speed read (something ...more
Dec 14, 2010 Sps rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: story
Odd and stylized, menacing and sweet. I know I said this about one of the last books I read (The Wizard of the Crow), but really, this was also Gogolian. Maybe any absurd, humorous depiction of totalitarian bureaucracies will strike me as Gogolian. Especially if there are charming details, like the cake and sweaters, pale suits and stuck-on hats herein.

What genre tag to give it? Certainly dystopian, possibly even speculative fiction, but not quite science fiction.

antes de leer:
NYT review compa
Jul 06, 2011 oriana marked it as didntfinish-yet
abandoned abandoned abandoned. I do this so rarely that I don't even have an "abandoned" shelf, but I just can't do it anymore. I don't care one bit about any of these characters, or about the weird confusing world they're walking around in. There's too much crypticism, too much bizarreness. I just. don't. care.


guuuuuuys, I hate this book. and I'm only 50 pgs in! can someone give me permission to stop reading please? or tell me it's going to get better...?


aaah! Put out by Small Beer Press,
here it is: while this book doesn't end well (not in the sense of plot but in the sense of the brilliance of how the majority of the book carries out) this book knocked the sense into me. it knocked senses into me.

when i was spotted reading 'meeks' and i was asked what it was about all i could say was that it was about suits, vivid descriptions of fruit and dystopia.

it's the only way to describe the book.

it has such precise wording and imagery. words and imagery that stick to my ribs.
i want to
I really did not like this book. There seemed to be no connection between the characters - no explanations for characters actions that helped to move the story and when the end came --- I felt I had been left hanging. I continued to read long after I would have normally quit reading a book that was this confusing and disjointed. But I was sure all the threads would be woven together by the end. I was wrong. What a disappointment from the descriptions I had read.
Printable Tire
Meeks reads like 1984 fan fiction, and I mean that in the best way.

It would be wrong to call it a dystopian novel; it would be wrong to call it a satire in the "funny" way, as I didn't find it particularly funny.

But it is a satire, and the best kind of satire: one in which you're never really sure what is being satirized, where everything old is presented in an original and new way.

It's sort of like if the silent movie The Crowd had been written by Philip Dick.
Lisa Hayden Espenschade
Jul 14, 2010 Lisa Hayden Espenschade rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those interested in happiness and dystopias
Recommended to Lisa by: publisher gave me a copy
A quirky short novel about a place where marital bliss is all: a man without a bachelor suit has little likelihood of finding a wife and living out his days eating sweets at picnics.

(The publisher gave me a copy of the book at Book Expo America, where I also enjoyed chatting with author Julia Holmes.)

I wrote about Meeks on my blog here.
While by far from a perfectly executed work of dystopian fiction, Julia Holmes' Meeks is a chilling tale of marginalized (if slightly flimsy) figures and the lengths to which we must go to find our place. The holes in the construction of her universe notwithstanding--of course there's a fine line between allusiveness and bluntness, but Holmes leaves too many gaps, I think--I found the novel unsettling in the way that demands attention.
A fun read, but I ultimately felt like the dystopian qualities were in place to distract from narrative and syntactic/stylistic shortcomings. This may have worked if the "in situ" feeling of the work gave way a little bit and we learned more about the world that Holmes created, but we never leave that narrative position, making the reader look for something else to be engaged by and finding, unfortunately, not much.
The review in the front cover says "irresistible for its bleak hilarity" maybe i don't have a sense of humor (thought i did) but i'm still searching for the hilarious part...

it's not what i was looking for in a dystopian novel it had no social comment on society. The world depicted is too artificial and the characters are "flat".

in short i kept think what's the point? i never got an answer..
Part Murakami, part Philip Dick, part Idiocracy, all dystopia. If it was longer than 200 pages, I don't think I would have tolerated it quite as much, but as it stands, this tight little sci-fi novella delivers a bleak and dreamy landscape chalk full of half-wit characters and disconcerting metaphor. Not everyone's cup of tea, but I'm a sucker for this sh*t.
Jan 03, 2011 Brandon rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: two
I really didn't care about any of the characters. I was rather bored throughout. At the very end, the least 15 pages or so, I thought it might redeem itself, but the ending really killed it more. A disaster as far as dystopian novels go.

I definitely missed the hype here. At least it was a short read between larger books.
I have a BA in reading books, and I found this almost incomprehensible. A very skilled writer can create an alternate reality using spare prose, but Julia Holmes is not that writer. I can see where the premise could be intriguing--maybe if we had followed Ben and other people like him--but this, this was irritating.
A dystopian novel set in a really rigid class structure: the highest goal in life is to get married. Way too conceptual for my taste. I read whole chapters twice and still had no idea what was going on. Beautiful language, but the story and characters just don't jump out and grab ahold of your attention.
Proof that my love of dystopic literature only goes so far. I feel like nothing really *happened* in this book, which isn't really true, but it was more vignette-y than linear plot-ty, and I like all plot all the time. I wish there had been more about why the society was set up the way it was.
tried and tried again to read this. i dont mind the dystopian setting, but completely agree with another reviewer-its almost too depressing. I have since given up trying to finish reading it. it was just tedious.
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