HOLY CRAP was this better than expected. Pulp noir sci-fi the SHIT! Take Raymond Chandler, marinate him in the essence of science-fiction for a few da...moreHOLY CRAP was this better than expected. Pulp noir sci-fi the SHIT! Take Raymond Chandler, marinate him in the essence of science-fiction for a few days, and fire up the ridiculous-metaphore-machine!(less)
'The City & The City' (TC&TC) presents a world that is an absolutely fascinating thought exercise explored by the winding of the unfortunately...more'The City & The City' (TC&TC) presents a world that is an absolutely fascinating thought exercise explored by the winding of the unfortunately contrived narrative and its serviceable protagonist.
I'm used to Mieville's novels taking an unusually long time to click over from world building to action, and I'm familiar with the implicit plodding progression of a police procedural, but even when the shit hit the fan in TC&TC I didn't really feel that shifting of gears.
I enjoyed TC&TC, don't get me wrong. But unlike, say, Perdido Street Station, which I enjoyed as much for its unique setting as I did its enthralling story, I was only really hooked by the world of TC&TC, not the goings on therein.(less)
The ENTIRE time I was reading this, I was waiting for something to happen, but alas 'twas not to be. I went into this expecting a trilogy of detective...moreThe ENTIRE time I was reading this, I was waiting for something to happen, but alas 'twas not to be. I went into this expecting a trilogy of detective stories that would explore the concept of identity, but what I got was a trilogy of tales that explore the concept of identity without any real plot.
The way the (unreliable?) narrators slip from normalcy at the behest of nothing more than the inherent existential curiousness of their respective situations reminded me of the Johnny Truant narrative from 'House of Leaves', except that in this case it felt awkward, forced, under-developed, and was generally poorly executed.
What I find most disappointing is that all the elements that would have been necessary for 'The New York Trilogy' to be truly awesome were present, yet somehow failed. I'm totally into detective stories, conceptual/existential horror, depictions of the descent into madness, and I love post-modern stuff like metafictionalism, yet still I was thoroughly underwhelmed and even bored by the stories. They had such promise, such potential, and that's what sucks the most.
I don't plan on trying any of Auster's other works after this.(less)
When I read 'City of Saints and Madmen' I'd formed a mental mosaic of the city of Ambergris - its history, its inhabitants, its aesthetic. It was so f...moreWhen I read 'City of Saints and Madmen' I'd formed a mental mosaic of the city of Ambergris - its history, its inhabitants, its aesthetic. It was so fantastic and ethereal and weird that every insight left me slack jawed and awed.
When I read 'Shriek: An Afterword' I was shocked at the level of (comparative) normalcy it imposed upon the city. It became too *real* for me, too *regular*. It was I felt like it had robbed me of some of the wonder with which the city had instilled me.
When I read 'Finch', I was presented with an Ambergris so extremely unlike that which I has encountered in the earlier books that it's almost difficult to consolidate. It brought back the strangeness I'd found in 'City' while leaving the functional normalcy of 'Shriek'. And I loved it. It was the perfect balance.
The story is set in a post-Rising Ambergis. Now an occupying force, the grey caps have flooded a large portion of the city (and what's left had already been war-worn during the War of the Houses), they've got most of the city's inhabitants imprisoned in work camps toiling away on a pair of ominous towers the purpose of which no one knows, and those left relatively "free" are policed by the fungal-enhanced human agents of the grey caps known as Partials. This is the world in which Finch lives and works.
Finch is a detective. "Employed" by the grey caps to investigate crimes throughout Ambergris, he is more or less considered a traitor by the humans. When he is tasked with solving a double murder involving a grey cap and an unidentified human, things start to get very bad for Finch very quickly. Because 'Finch' is basically a mystery story, I won't go into any greater detail than that.
The prose took a little bit of getting used to. Composed of short, curt, pointed sentences interposed with bursts of measured introspection on the part of Finch, it seems to adhere to conventions of noir fiction which I'd not been exposed to before. I became endeared to the style before long, and view it very favorably in retrospect; it supports and deepens the strength of the mood and tone of the novel wonderfully.
It is said that one could read 'Finch' without first having read the other books in the Ambergris cycle. I suppose this is true - it is definitely strong enough a story to stand by itself - but I feel that having read the other books could be the difference between just *enjoying* 'Finch', and really appreciating it. It ties together threads that were lingering from the earlier books and makes startling revelations about the history of, and prior events within, Ambergris - the impact of which would obviously be greatly weakened had the reader not been pondering these already.(less)