More of a 2 1/2 maybe. This book was a pain to get through and in all honesty I am not quite done. At times, the writing was very nice and others, it j...moreMore of a 2 1/2 maybe. This book was a pain to get through and in all honesty I am not quite done. At times, the writing was very nice and others, it just seemed to go on and on. The whole thing was a bit excessive yet I understand as a tragic novel, its purpose was to depress and induce sighs. My issue with it was perhaps the fact that despite feeling bad for the protagonist, she isn't that likable a person. The main character, Stephen Gordon, is a white, upper-class female-born "sexual invert" lamenting her desire for women and "innate masculine personality" and responding with horror to the world outside her privileged and sheltered upbringing. But if you can look past that shallow veil, there is much to be studied. If anything, this novel truly is a starting point for studying queer literature and queer identity origin in Europe and within privilege.(less)
This is a shining example of how studying a book can add to the enjoyment. I loved this novel. The beautiful and sometimes delicious prose made it an...moreThis is a shining example of how studying a book can add to the enjoyment. I loved this novel. The beautiful and sometimes delicious prose made it an easy read. The stream of consciousness isn't for everyone, I recognize. Many of the complaints I have read in reviews are things that are arguably deliberate and while I will not write an essay here addressing each one of them, I will just say I am thankful for being able to study this book and add a diverse array of perspectives to this novel. I found Bînh enjoyable and complex as a narrator. As someone fascinated with language, the room this book leaves to discuss it and all its implications excites me (and that, however, I AM writing a paper on). For a debut book, I think it is truly a great accomplishment and I will be reading more of Truong in the future for sure.(less)
I like the idea - psychological horror, madness, apparitions and sickness of mind. Lovely stuff. But it was a horrible bore to get through, I had to h...moreI like the idea - psychological horror, madness, apparitions and sickness of mind. Lovely stuff. But it was a horrible bore to get through, I had to have it read to me to pay attention. Too much fancy word vomit in old timey language for me, personally.
If you like all that kind of writing, you will eat this up. Plotwise alone, a snooze for me.
That aside, the book does wonders to take apart perspective and experience and personally, I found it challenging my own perspective while I was figuring out the book's. In fact, eventually I found it so unnerving the way that James is able to tap into humans' innate fears and desires especially in the face of trying to cover them up and project (projections ftw) them onto others or situations that I was displeased with him. Like, get out of my brain, Sir! Good stuff to reflect on in terms of style and aspects of its structure. The flow of the words in general is not appealing to me but if one pays attention to the degrees of separation and interpretation, you can get a lot out of this novella.(less)