I'm glad I waited a couple of days to review this. At first I was going to give this book two stars and tell you all not to read it, but I've realizedI'm glad I waited a couple of days to review this. At first I was going to give this book two stars and tell you all not to read it, but I've realized the fault was mine, not Han Kang's. Or maybe it's the marketing department's fault, because The Vegetarian is not the book I thought it would be. From the advertising and the presentation, I expected it to be a wicked, pro-feminist knifepoint of a novel: something like a cross between Gone Girl and Audition. It's not at all like that - it's even more nihilistic than that. Rest of thoughts are spoilery so they're after the break.
This book is actually a morose look at (view spoiler)[a young woman's descent into schizophrenia and how it effects her life and the life of those around her. I can tell there's a lot of allusions to Korean history in here, but I'm not enough of a scholar to unpack them, so that's what I got out of it. In the first of the novel's three parts, everyone in Yeong-hye's life is so busy chastising her for breaking Korean cultural norms that they don't spend a moment doing any critical thinking about her condition. (It's worth noting that only one person among her entire friends and family even bothers to ask her why she's doing what she's doing, and by then it's too late).
In the second story, her family has shunned her, except for her 'sensitive artist' brother-in-law, who ends this segment of the book by raping her (she doesn't say no, but she is clearly no longer in a lucid headspace and he knows that). Tellingly, when the police are called he can only think of how things will affect him.
In the third story, Yeong-hye's sister visits her in a psych ward months later (as she begins to finally wither away to the point of death), but even here there's no genuine concern. The entire rest of Yeong-hye's family has written her off as an unperson, and her sister's internal monologue is entirely self-focused. (This so easily could have happened to me, oh my god what if it starts to happen to me?) It's like she has the plague.
The Vegetarian's overall ethos is that mental illness will ruin your life, screw up the lives of the people you love and cause them to hate you. It's an unflinching, disturbing look at how even a beloved, diligent member of a family can become persona non grata the instant they start to need help, and how easily it could happen to anyone. Even you, even me. I asked for a knifepoint, but I got the whole fucking knife. (hide spoiler)]
Now I feel like I need to read some banal fantasy novel to decompress.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
As a chronicle of political stuff that happened on the Republican side between 2012 and today, The Wilderness is alright. As an in-depth look at the oAs a chronicle of political stuff that happened on the Republican side between 2012 and today, The Wilderness is alright. As an in-depth look at the overlarge cast of jokers, hucksters and fools currently stabbing each other in the back to become the next candidate for president with an R after his name, it's excellent. Coppins is pretty far from unbiased in his coverage, but he's not trying to be - he's interviewed each of the candidates extensively as BuzzFeed's resident Republican analyst, and it's obvious some of them are easier to get along with than others. Rand Paul in particular benefits from Coppins' writing, while Jeb Bush and Chris Christie are "bullies," Ted Cruz is a sociopath and I honestly think Bobby Jindal might be mentally ill. An entertaining behind-the-scenes look at the freakshow, even if the show isn't quite over yet....more
Shyamalan Syndrome, (n.): A well-trod, increasingly popular method of composition by which an author creates a "twist" and structures a narrative to fShyamalan Syndrome, (n.): A well-trod, increasingly popular method of composition by which an author creates a "twist" and structures a narrative to fit it, rather than the other way around. Typically results in a mediocre work. Named after the 2000s era filmmaker, whose work has become synonymous with the technique (in a negative fashion), but popular also in TV shows and YA fiction. For further examples, see We Were Liars, E. Lockhart....more