I really wanted to like this book. I'd heard a lot of good things about it. And yet...
Don't get me wrong, the concept was great. A Beijing taxi driverI really wanted to like this book. I'd heard a lot of good things about it. And yet...
Don't get me wrong, the concept was great. A Beijing taxi driver starts finding letters left for him in his car, from a writer who details past lives that they lived together, and how they are meant to be together again. Of course, his wife takes this very badly
On the one hand, the book is an intense look at life in China, both modern and historical. However, it is also so unrelentingly bleak that I kept putting the book aside for days at a time. It was good enough that I would pick it up again, but dark enough that I skim-read through some portions.
So would I recommend this book to anyone else? I guess it would depend on their tolerence for unrelenting darkness. If you like a book that will make you miserable, this might be right up your alley. If you don't like being depressed by your reading, avoid this one....more
On the one hand, the story is beautiful and the language equally so. I liked the main characters of North and CalI'm a little conflicted on this book.
On the one hand, the story is beautiful and the language equally so. I liked the main characters of North and Callanish.
But on the other hand, the plot was rather thin (not necessarily an issue when dealing with literary fiction), and the sensible part of my brain had me trying to work out just how this flooding would have happened, especially since this is supposed to be a future after the world is flooded (where did that much water come from? How did they build reclaimed land islands? How is there enough wood and metal for boats? How the hell do two horses survive on a small boat without being crippled?)
But despite the quibbles, I very much enjoyed this book, but I was glad I went with the library instead of buying the book....more
One thing that I took away from this book was that it was a master class on building likeable characters, even the 'villain' of the book, which bounceOne thing that I took away from this book was that it was a master class on building likeable characters, even the 'villain' of the book, which bounces between the headspaces of a number of characters.
Gabriel is a biologist and native. He has disappeared from work, leaving behind an apartment with the names of a long string of environmental disasters written all over the walls and doors. He feels guilt for one particular environmental disaster using a defoliant he helped design, and which killed a lot of people in a reservation, including his mother and sister. The story starts out with a suicide attempt on the coastline damaged by his defoliant, interrupted by the rescue of a group of people from the ocean.
Mara feels equally guilty, but because she'd moved to Toronto to pursue and art career, coming home only after the disaster killed her mother, grandmother, and best friend. Now she's painting portraits of the dead and hanging them on their homes so that they will be remembered.
Sonny is a kid who lives at the motel with his silent father. He wields a hammer with great enthusiasm, and I wondered if he ever went to school.
Nicholas Crisp is a salty local who dispenses wisdom and advice.
Soldier is a dog that seems to be more than a dog.
Dorian is the CEO of Domidion, the company that Gabriel worked for. He's dealing with another environmental disaster in Alberta on the Athabasca reserve, his disappearing scientist, his wife having gone to Florida and is now impossible to reach, and a personal health crisis.
You would expect Dorian to be the villain of the novel, but to be honest, he might even have been the most sympathetic character in a cast of sympathetic characters. The writing had a light touch, pulling me along with a chuckle, while still addressing some pretty serious issues like GMOs, corporations, and the cover-up of environmental disasters.
Jonathan Carroll is one of those writers who I enjoye the books of his that I've read, but I never feel the urge to hunt down all the books by him thaJonathan Carroll is one of those writers who I enjoye the books of his that I've read, but I never feel the urge to hunt down all the books by him that I haven't read. His writing also stradles the faint line between Fantasy and Magic Realism.
This book deals with a group of people who are retired 'Mechanics'. In other words, they are beings charged with maintaining the universe in the face of Chaos. All but one had their memories erased, but they've been drawn together (two are married, one is the employer of the wife). They are also sharing dreams that are hard to recognize as dreams at the start.
But something is happening. It's really hard to explain anything more without giving away too much about the story. But I always find the language beautiful, and it's rather like sinking into a warm bath. I wouldn't recommend this author's writing to anyone who prefers exciting plots and action, but if you love character and language, or 'literary' novels, this might be your speed....more
I heard about this book abck around the time it was originally published, so when the trade paperback edition came out, I picked up a copy and put itI heard about this book abck around the time it was originally published, so when the trade paperback edition came out, I picked up a copy and put it on my TBR bookcase. Yes, I have enough unread books that they fill *two* bookcases, with a few left in piles on the floor next to them.
So, it shouldn't be surprising that it took more than six years to get around to actually reading it, and I will be honest, the push was to stamp off a square on my reading bingo card (author under 30: she was 23 when this came out, and she is *still* under 30).
Now I wish I'd read it a lot sooner.
The story is primarily about the narrator, a young black woman born in Cuba, but living most of her life in London. It deals with issues of race and immigration, mental illness, and being a young woman finding she's pregnant and unsure how she feels about it. Then there's her brother Thomas, who is either bullimic, or has a very touchy stomach that left him throwing up after every meal as a child, and dealing with bullying in school. There's also their parents. Papi is a black academic, who wants his son to get over his problems and his daughter to get an advanced degree and forget about actually going back to Cuba, even for a visit. And there's his wife, Chabella, who much to his dismay is immersed in Santeria.
Built around this story is a fable about Yoruba gods who live in a house with one door in Lagos and the other in London, which is the Opposite House of the title (also called the Somewherehouse). It also deals with identity, for gods that went from Africa to the Caribbean and adapted themselves to new religions.
Falling into Literary fiction (and magic realism), there is no real plot to this, outside of Chabella's argument with her husband over religion, and the narrator dealing with her pregnancy, and her relationships with her boyfriend, her best friend, and her family.
But the language was beautiful and pulled me along. I would have happily kept reading, but unfortunately it ended. Definitely well worth reading, even for someone like me who prefers more plot in my reading....more