Who know if this is the correct edition, but you get the idea. I've read and loved the other six. This is the last and in a quite Proust-like fashion...moreWho know if this is the correct edition, but you get the idea. I've read and loved the other six. This is the last and in a quite Proust-like fashion I've been putting this one off. Ah, delayed gratification, the ecstasy of the unopened book... Take this as a warning, Proust may very well warp your mind.(less)
Here is a book I hesitate to recommend because there is some irrational part of my reader's brain that is convinced that Jo Walton has written Among O...moreHere is a book I hesitate to recommend because there is some irrational part of my reader's brain that is convinced that Jo Walton has written Among Others solely for me.
Okay, I'm not a Welsh teen girl growing up early 80s England hungrily reading whatever science fiction comes at me. I didn't have some cataclysmic battle with my mother where my twin sister died. But still as someone born at the tail end of the sixties and who gathered up science fiction from second handbook stories - Heinlien, Delaney, Ursula Le Guin, etc, this book was undoubtedly written with me in mind, maybe. Okay, there may just be a chance that this book is just freaking amazing generally and that I have been enchanted by it.
It won't be a book for everyone. This isn't an epic fantasy book. It isn't even a small scale fantasy book. It's a fantasy book about what happens after the adventure. Like an even smaller scale versus of Frodo after the ring is taken care of, but with not much scouring of the Shire. Told in the first person this is all about this one teen girl's internal battle. Who knows, I do think you could even read the book with the fantasy elements just being her delusion - the fantasy is so subtle and so slight. The one other character who seems to confirm what she sees could very well just have suggestible mind. I enjoyed toying around with that idea as I completely and absolutely rooted for the girl to be okay, to win, to be alright.
I confess, I did that most bone-headed, most naive, childish thing: I began wondering, 'Hey did Jo Walton have a twin sister?' I needed to remind myself that yes, this is a STORY, dude! Something about the intensity of the diary format and Walton's skills as an writer did me in, slipped past my hipster doofus, snarky facade and nailed my emotions to the wall.
For me the book was absolutely riveting on that very personal, very psychological level, but I can see it being tedious for someone who didn't buy into the book on those terms. On one level nothing happens, on the other level the book is just jam packed with dangers and triumphs and also, books!!! A fantasy book about the joys of science fiction! If Mori was reading to escape the horrors of the fantasy in her life, I read to find hope away from the trials and tragedies of my most mundanely crappy life at the time.
Yes, a book to clutch to my chest... which means I need to go out and buy paper copy.(less)
Completely blown away by this dense, lyric, scathing, funny, disturbing book. I LOVE how it was confusing and disoriented. This book smacked me up the...moreCompletely blown away by this dense, lyric, scathing, funny, disturbing book. I LOVE how it was confusing and disoriented. This book smacked me up the side of the head and made me run to try and keep up. This is a polemic that makes things MORE complicated not less. Russ doesn't flatten out the situation; she made me open my eyes in a totally different way. I came out of the novel deeply sad and deeply moved.(less)
"It's a fascinating book. It's got pace, it's got momentum, it's full of humor, and I think the writer has a story to tell. We've struck gold."
This is...more "It's a fascinating book. It's got pace, it's got momentum, it's full of humor, and I think the writer has a story to tell. We've struck gold."
This is as good a review as I can give right now. That the above is one of the two main characters talking about Mein Kampf, which they are translating into Yiddish, gives you an idea of the tone. Biting satire, but satire kept in a disturbingly real, grounded reality. (Well grounded for the majority of the book. Grunberg slowly wound his characters up and in the final section of the book everything is fast and unbelievable.)
Grunberg is the most awesome writer than probably 97% of the reading public would not touch with a ten foot pole. But if you like your lit straight up, fearless and difficult he is the dude for you. If you want to scare a friend or relative go up to them with big puppy dog eyes, hand them the novel and say softly, "I love this book..."*
*(I would never do this in real life, but on the internet I'm okay with scaring the crap out of all you imaginary people.)(less)
A sex crazed newt-Queen Victoria, a bottled Hottentot twat, Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson visiting limbo -- this is the funny twisted 19th century...moreA sex crazed newt-Queen Victoria, a bottled Hottentot twat, Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson visiting limbo -- this is the funny twisted 19th century sf world Paul Di Filippo has created in The Steampunk Trilogy. If you like your sf wacky, bawdy and crammed full of allusions that send you off in the wide world of lit then this is the writer for you.
While "Victoria" came off as an extended dirty joke and "Walt and Emily" had the poets quoting their poetry to each other, I thought the longest of the three novellas "Hottentot" fired on all cylinders - a satiric taking apart of 19th century racist science and the hapless Swiss born professor, all carried along on Di Filippo's mercilessly funny picaresque plot.(less)
It comes down to the missing Nat King Cole record and envelope full money for me.
On the surface this might come off as a mid-life crisis, with the lonely guy at the center going off course when a woman suddenly appears as a femme fatale with death in her eyes. If that was all it was, even done as eerie and coldly pretty as Murakami can only do, I probably would just write this off as an overly romantic slice of weird-ass Japanses noir. But....
When I got to the end of a novel and Hajime, the first person narrator, starts going on about 'alternate reality' and how because the senses and memory are so unreliable that you need external objects to confirm reality, but that this raises all sorts of problems because then you need other 'realities' to support the 'alternate reality' of the objects supporting the first reality and that this leads to an endless chain -- a chain that has been broken by the disappearance of the envelope full of cash. Now Hajime looks over the chasm of the broken chain and can't figure out which side he is on -- Well, this reader knew he'd better start questioning what is real in this novel. Most particularly is the adult Shimamoto, the mysterious fem-fatale, a real person?
I don't think she exists, excpet in the narrator's mind. If you go back in the book I don't believe any of the other characters in the book actually interact with her. Yes, I'm talking Bruce Willis and Haley Jole Osmond/The Sixth Sense kind of deal here. The narrator in this book is screwed up and playing a very odd game in his head - one that he isn't aware of but I believe the reader is suppose to clue in on by the end.
I've read other people's reactions to the book, questioning why there are so many loose ends and vagaries, and perhaps SOTB, WOTS is open ended and 'romantic'. But I like my interpretation, which seems to show the book is deadly sharp and anything but romantic.
I don't think Murakami is trying to portray mental illness, but rather playing with the consequences and selfishness of his main character's nostalgic desires -- and by making Shimamoto his character's hallucination shows how anti-life this force is. While Shimamto is the seductress/succubus manifestation of his hunger for the life of others, Izumi (the horrific vision of her at the end, who is also a hallucination, way too much of a coincidence that she suddenly shows up in a taxi) is the hungry ghost the void that lies within him. It all adds up to a bleak portrait of a monomaniacal egotist.
I'm sure there is nothing new in this interpretation, and a lot wrong, but it's my first pass at sinking into the book.(less)
The best put-together, most fascinated anthology I've ever read. Only the most interesting entries from the best journals and diaries in the world. De...moreThe best put-together, most fascinated anthology I've ever read. Only the most interesting entries from the best journals and diaries in the world. Deluxe reading for your bathroom.(less)
A classic of staggeringly original proportions, plus I had a friend who convinced me he was an alien, but did not manage to save me from my teen years...moreA classic of staggeringly original proportions, plus I had a friend who convinced me he was an alien, but did not manage to save me from my teen years.(less)