Gaiman’s my go-to guy for a fairytale fix, love his lyrical style. Reads like a child’s nightmare, haunting, claustrophobic but not entirely grim. Wit...moreGaiman’s my go-to guy for a fairytale fix, love his lyrical style. Reads like a child’s nightmare, haunting, claustrophobic but not entirely grim. With monsters and hunger birds to battle "Huge, they were and sleek, and ancient, and it hurt my eyes to look at them." the nameless boy in this is not nearly as tough as Coraline. Luckily he's got the Hemstock women as back-up, Maiden, Mother & Crone, and just like in “Coraline” a reclusive cat to lend him comfort - when it’s so inclined:) Touted as an adult novel I’m thinking YA but does it really matter? There’s depth. Of course there’s a moral, this ones strange - All the knowledge in the world won't make you happy "Be boring, knowing everything"- if it means losing your sense of wonder.
"Girls and boys come out to play, the moon doth shine as bright as day. Leave your supper and leave your meat, and join your playfellows in the street. Come with a whoop and come with a call, come with a whole heart or not at all."
Described as his most personal work to date it feels authentic; like he’s inviting you to join him revisiting the pain from his own childhood. The loneliness “Nobody came to my seventh birthday party. I lay on the bed and lost myself in the stories. I liked that. Books were safer than other people anyway.” and the helplessness of having your fate in the hands of adults. "She was power incarnate, standing in the crackling air. She was the storm, she was the lightning, she was the adult world with all its power and all its secrets and all its foolish casual cruelty. She winked at me."
Cons: Beware the hype! Don’t go into it with false expectations, okay? It could have been more fleshed out, at 180 pages reads like a novella. There is humour, but less than he normally injects, and the EVILNESS of his dad and sister is a bit over the top. Finally some find the story too bleak - I revel in gloominess so didn’t consider this a negative, but you might:)
For it’s genre - a solid four fantastical stars(less)
You know how in dreams it doesn’t matter that nothing makes any sense? All you know is you're in survival mode and WHY things happen isn’t even on you...moreYou know how in dreams it doesn’t matter that nothing makes any sense? All you know is you're in survival mode and WHY things happen isn’t even on your radar! This has that same surreal quality - if you’re looking for creepy & imaginative give it a try. One woman is shrinking daily, about to disappear completely if she can’t stop it somehow. Another is fleeing from a lion that used to be tattooed on her leg now come to life and hell-bent on hunting her down. There’s no time for lamenting or gnashing of teeth, the bizarreness dealt with in a very lets get down to business manner. Magical-realism peppered with absurd humour, likely steeped in metaphor’s that went over my head. An adult fairytale I looked for the moral. Pretty sure it’s "Figure out what’s REALLY important - then cherish it - or lose it." Maybe… anyway, it was fun so I didn’t really care. Despite its tone of unease it was a strangely soothing read, nice choice on the heels of A Monster Calls.
Cons: Tiny's about right, preferring novels at 88 pages I wanted more. There's a few passages that are just lame. Finally, Kaufman doesn’t bother explaining 'how' or 'why' which can be annoying if you get all analytical about it. I just let it go:)
Humour bites “The tiny mothers got all over the house. They would wander away and become unable to find their way back. David was constantly finding tiny mothers hanging from the heating vents or stuck knee-deep in the soil of potted plants.”
“Jennifer Layone was searching underneath the couch for the remote control when she found God.” (less)
It’s got a lot of heart, dark and dramatic with ambience in spades, does a great job depicting rural Mississippi. "A few paved roads and a lot of dirt...moreIt’s got a lot of heart, dark and dramatic with ambience in spades, does a great job depicting rural Mississippi. "A few paved roads and a lot of dirt ones, a land of sewer ditches and gullies stripped of their timber and houses and single-wides speckled back in the clear-cut like moles revealed by a haircut." The point of view alternates between Silas Jones & Larry Ott, flashing back to their boyhood friendship - a friendship that ends when Larry is suspected of murder. Now Silas is back in town this time in the capacity of constable, returning to a moral dilemma. There's another murder and Larry's the prime suspect, how can he live with himself if he turns his back on his friend again. For me the idea of small town life both attracts and repels. If you fit in there’d be nothing warmer or more embracing - if you didn’t it could be a living hell. From day one Larry doesn’t fit. As a boy he has nose bleeds, stutters, reads too many damn books. While not found guilty by a jury he might as well have been, the town sentences him to a life of friendless isolation. In his place I’d have left without a backward glance, feet don’t fail me now…But not Larry, he stays. Undecided if that choice was cowardly or courageous, whatever. There’s a quiet dignity to how every day he’s at that garage, just sitting and waiting, I mean who’s gonna give their business to ‘Scary Larry’? But you can set your watch by him, he’s always there, always on time. And not a drop of meanness either, like how he cares for his chickens, rigging up that moveable pen so they get a change of scenery, some fresh air, a few bugs to eat. My heart went out to him, this guy who’s never experienced kindness treating a bunch of birds, chickens no less, with more compassion than he’s ever been shown. While both Silas & Larry's characters are richly defined, it’s Larry I’ll remember - the world’s loneliest mechanic. Cons: The mystery is pretty obvious, the outcome predictable - in fairness legs only to what’s really a character study. Short on thrills some find it slow paced – I didn’t.
A book to immerse in; for the genre of Southern Gothic Lit – 4 shiny stars.(less)
Raised in Ontario, Canada as a kid I hated swimming. Mom never learned, she preferred to stay safely on shore and shout out dire warnings about snappi...moreRaised in Ontario, Canada as a kid I hated swimming. Mom never learned, she preferred to stay safely on shore and shout out dire warnings about snapping turtles & eels. At least the snappers swam on the surface, I'd see them coming but the eels? Horrible, slimy creatures of the night that slithered unseen in the dark murky water. I still shudder! It opens with “The eel is not an easy fish to like” No kidding… Read it hoping I’d get over my fear, finished it creeped out as ever - and utterly fascinated.
• Monstrous: The Europeon conger up to 10 ft long weighing in at 240 lb. • Ancient: Some have a lifespan of over a hundred years and don’t produce offspring till they’re over 60. • Deadly: A tiny amount of eel blood is enough to kill you, pass on the eel sushi... • Mysterious: They migrate en masse, in the Catskills “The run corresponds with the new moon and floods brought on by the hurricane season, when the sky is at its darkest and the river at its highest” Yearly millions of eels around the world migrate from rivers to oceans, among the "greatest unseen migrations of any creature on the planet” Just picture this! “On wet nights, eels are known to cross over land from a pond to a river by the thousands, using each other’s moist bodies as a bridge, to climb moss-covered vertical walls forming a braid with their bodies.” • Illusive: We’ve yet to find a spawning adult or witnessed a freshwater eel spawning in the wild. For eel scientists, solving the mystery of eel reproduction remains a kind of holy grail. All they know is they spawn somewhere in the Sargasso Sea in the heart of the Bermuda Triangle – yeh, the infamous Bermuda Triangle, how spooky is that? • Mystical: Why this book sang for me - his passionate quest to understand the mystical role, the spiritual importance that Eels play in so many native cultures. • Most Frightening: That they're gone and I had no idea "The St. Lawrence River feeding into Lake Ontario once comprised the single largest nursery in North America. Now almost no eels are returning at all." Damn those dams. My poor planet - death by a thousand paper cuts.
10 years in the writing Prosek outgrows some of his arrogance. Liked that this Yale grad formed a lasting and respectful friendship with "old river rat" Ray who works an eel weir in the Catskill Mountains. Ray chose a life most would write off as too hard, too lonely. "I told Ray I admired the way he lived. “Don’t look up to me, kid,” he said “look with me.” and Prosek did. 4 ½ slimy stars and a big thanks to Will for the review that led me to it.
CONS: Think Carlos Castaneda obsessed with fish. His writing is kinda all over the place, shifts without warning between fact and folklore. Fine, I enjoyed it - just wish he’d been a little clearer. FYI: Eels don’t bark like dogs, nor do they cry like babies…trust me, I googled it:)(less)