can anyone believe i finally finished this book?? i dont recommend it and im not even sure why. its just not very interesting, although it picks up acan anyone believe i finally finished this book?? i dont recommend it and im not even sure why. its just not very interesting, although it picks up a little at the end. how someone can mess up with this kind of source material is beyond me. his writing just made me want to keep drifting off....but its over now and i can read my fascinating cataloging book......more
the rating is actually for the book cover. my favorite ever - i couldnt believe it wasnt on here... when i was a wee girl - i loved this book. its prothe rating is actually for the book cover. my favorite ever - i couldnt believe it wasnt on here... when i was a wee girl - i loved this book. its probably terrible, but its a book i would "visit" at the supermarket turny-racks because i loved the expression on that girls face. and then i bought it. and read it. that girl is not a good friend. ...more
so i am going to review this one after all, because the book i am reading now will probably take me forever, and i dont want to get out of practice wrso i am going to review this one after all, because the book i am reading now will probably take me forever, and i dont want to get out of practice writing reviews that have nothing to do with the book. its a tricky skill, you understand,it must be honed. this may be one of my favorite books ever. i have gone through so many copies of this because i never learn not to lend it to people, particularly people i might be kissing. i think i gave this to two of them, wayyy back in my kissy youth. and of course, we went our separate ways (thats me and the book, as well as me and the kissed-upon) so i have solved that problem by keeping my lips to myself. and i will never lend this one out again, because it comes and goes in print (right now - out of print) and i couldnt bear to be parted from it again. that being said - its by no means perfect. the biggest gripe is obvious: writing in dialect is tricky; writing in a dialect not your own is even worse.you catch the rhythm after a bit, but its still not perfectly-rendered. i also wonder what mr nick cave would think about the word "antihero" being applied to this book. because this one is even more of an antihero than bunny munro, and if he was surprised at b.m. being judged as antiheroic, i wonder about his acceptance of what is an obvious judgment by the reader. but the story... its so well-written and well-conceived. his powers of description are unbearably good. i havent read this book in at least 5 years, but i can still see every character, every building, fortress, dog, prostitute, church - everything. it has some of the most gruesome descriptions ive ever read, but also some of the most lyrical. its love and madness and biblical misinterpretation and power and callousness and industry. if the three most important rules of door-to-door salesmanship, as we were taught in the death of bunny munro are "vagina, vagina, vagina", this book teaches us the three most important rules of messiah-dom, "crazy, crazy, crazy". but, damn hes endearing. he shouldnt be at all, but euchrid eucrow is one of my favorite characters in all of literature. and that one scene, where it switches from first- to third-person is devastating precisely because you fall in love with him. and then, when that perspective is given - just a gut-punch. i may have to read it again soon - but dont even ask me for my copy because the answer is an emphatic "no". who says i cant be taught?
oh, and i almost forgot- this book also has a soundtrack - which elevates it above most other books. ...more
this is probably my favorite of all my crispin glover books. it is not a book i can effectively review, i dont think, but i like a challenge and my clthis is probably my favorite of all my crispin glover books. it is not a book i can effectively review, i dont think, but i like a challenge and my class doesnt start for another 40 minutes, so i suppose i have some time to give it a try. its. its what you might expect if you know anything about crispin glover. if you have the cd, if you have seen the movies (not back to the future or even fast sofa -im talking about the snail movie... you know)its a riot of images and words... and scrawl. and fantastic madness. come to think of it, since it is on my mind, it might be what euchrid eucrow (from the first nick cave novel) might write were he to try his hand at fiction. it is wonderful. and hearing it being read aloud by crispin glover is also wonderful. (its on the cd - buy it - and when he tours with the movies, he will read some to you.)yeah, no my first impulse was right - i cant review this. but im not going to delete it because maybe someone else will review it now, just to prove it can be done....more
the beginning part of this book reminded me of my very favorite part in john gardner's grendel, where two characters are ass-kickingly fighting,but althe beginning part of this book reminded me of my very favorite part in john gardner's grendel, where two characters are ass-kickingly fighting,but also having a philosophical debate at the same time. this starts out like that, only with less howling. this is teen fiction, so the weapons being pelted are plums, and everyone gets to keep their arms (for now), but that doesn't mean this is sweet valley high: there will be blood and sacrifice and deep dark nihilism in these 13-year-olds before we are through.
this is my favorite type of story, where kids revert to savagery when they are put into an isolating situation. in this case, it is emotional isolation rather than physical, lord of the flies style, but it is serious.
quick plot summary tho i hate to do it: 7th grade class, one kid "realizes" that nothing means anything and so climbs a tree and stays there for months, shouting his newfound beliefs and infuriating the rest of the kids in his class. they decide to prove to him that life has meaning. they begin to accumulate a "pile of meaning", willingly giving up what matters to them in order to prove him wrong, because he is starting to get into their heads and cause doubt. but who wants to give up the thing that matters most to them, at thirteen? and what kid is going to allow his classmate to cheat and give up something lesser, while hoarding their treasures? so they begin choosing for each other, forcing others to give up increasingly meaningful parts of themselves. and now it's a party, and it's going to get messy.
most authors would stop here - deliver a little cautionary allegory all tidied up. but there is a little more to it here. a little more of the dark.
ariel has recommended a tremendous book to me, and now i pass it along to you.
for fun, google image "pile of meaning" with your kiddie filters turned off. oh, my......more
seriously - a one-day-read feels so good after spending two weeks on one book; it is freeing to remember that it can be done and still have time leftseriously - a one-day-read feels so good after spending two weeks on one book; it is freeing to remember that it can be done and still have time left over to watch step up2 - the streets!! (those motherfuckers danced in the rain! talk about risking it all!)
this is the middle book in a trilogy, so don't go running out to read it based on the "strength" of this review without first going out and getting hater.it is a fun bloody romping zombie-ish book that is a page-turning good time for those of us with anger management issues.
i like that this book takes the genre of zombie fiction and gives it a little shove into deeper waters.the basics: about half of the population remains "unchanged", and the rest have gone mad with zombielike urges. these "zombies" aren't corpses, they are just people infected with the urge to kill. kill, kill, kill, dismember, smash, punch, kick, start over.
but they don't destroy mindlessly, like zombies, not entirely. this second volume mostly takes place in the mind of an infected, so you can see that they are thinking, or one of them is anyway, but there is a compulsion to kill and a planned rationale, of sorts, for their actions. it is a little more chilling when there is a methodology.
when david wellington introduced zombie birds in monster island, i got crazy excited because it was so unexpected and frankly terrifying and as someone who has seen a ton of zombie movies, it was something new, finally. this one pulls a similar move. children!! rage-infected children!! badass vivisecting feeling-no-pain children!god, like they aren't scary enough already! for example, this fantastic movie:
apparently guillermo del toro has snapped up the movie rights for hater, which is pretty lame, if you ask me, considering there is already a movie and a remake of same movie covering pretty much the same ground. but who am i to question the man? if you're not going to make the damn hobbit anymore, you do whatever you want, dude.
is this a review? i can't tell anymore. all i know is, i took the day off work because my back refused to give me a break yesterday, and this was a fantastic companion for my day of rest.
i will leave the billy bragg here, because i think the question remains, "which side are you on, boy?"
okay, this book is not four-stars like proust is four-stars. this earns its rating because after reading a series of "ho-hum" and "meh-meh" teen books okay, this book is not four-stars like proust is four-stars. this earns its rating because after reading a series of "ho-hum" and "meh-meh" teen books - this one was actually pretty good.
except for the epilogue, which made me a little embarrassed. ungood.
it's kind of a ghost story, it's kind of a mystery, it's kind of a story about a creepy little kid, it's kind of a coming-of-age story.
but it works.
it may be just that i read it in about an hour and a half, so my reading didn't get interrupted, but it felt very fast-paced and exciting, and the story itself was well-told and original. and it won an edgar award.
it's weird, i liked it a lot while i was reading it, but today, the day after, i can't remember why.
it is about peer pressure, mean adolescent girls, sacrifices, and conformity.
in this story, little girls all come with corresponding girl-sized talking ponies, complete with wings and a horn. they go everywhere together, and friendships blossom until the time comes in every girl-and-pony’s life to attend a “cutting-out party.” this will establish their place in the larger community of girls-and-ponies, but it requires a sacrifice to fit in,
"If we like you, and if your Pony does okay, we'll let you hang out with us."
Sunny says, "I can't wait to have friends!"
oh, so desperate to be part of the cool crowd.
but in order to fit in, the pony of each little girl must choose to give up two of the following: their horn, their wings, or their voice. most ponies choose to keep their voice, and barbara’s pony sunny is no different. communication is more important to ponies than self-defense or flight (escape), and probably also to the girls themselves, although Barbara only speaks when she thinks she’ll get it right, so the girls already choosing to make sacrifices of themselves without the corresponding ceremony.
however, there is a horrible surprise that no one tells little girls.
(view spoiler)[because while it is necessary to give up two things to be “in” with TheOtherGirls, the ponies of TheOtherGirls also require a sacrifice in order to accept them into their clique: their third thing. so the ponies have to give up everything that makes them special in order to belong. and, more creepy and insidiously, the ponies willingly give away what makes them strong so that when the one thing that is important to them gets taken away, they won't be able to fight back. which makes me think of one of the best moments in true detective. you know, besides every single moment.
when discussing how a little girl has any idea about sex, specifically sexual violence:
"How does she even know about this stuff?"
"Girls always know before boys."
"Why is that?"
"Because they have to."
because i am not overlooking the mythological connection between unicorns and virginity. (hide spoiler)]
mean girls, why are you so mean? a lot of it has to do with this sense of absent parents/supervision, and how kids will regress to their primal lord-of-the-flies selves without structure
She has a mother who's a pediatrician and a father who's a cardiologist and a small barn and giant trees shading the grass where the Ponies are playing games.
parents are absent in this story, and as important to the little girls as trees or barns. completely inconsequential.
and the final blow – the final horrible twist. well.
for anyone else, this would probably be a four- or five-star book, and looking through my friends list, it seems to in i don't know what my problem is.
for anyone else, this would probably be a four- or five-star book, and looking through my friends list, it seems to indeed be the case. and i am thrilled, because i love liz jensen and she gets very little play in this country - most of her books are out of print, and the last two didn't even come out in paperback here, so i am holding onto these two sad hardcover copies in the hopes that someone will happen upon them and buy them.
there is so much good in this book, but it was just missing something. "what was it missing, karen?? where is your book?? YOU THINK YOU CAN DO BETTER??"
no, i most certainly cannot.
i am no writer, but i am a pretty decent reader. and liz jensen is a fine writer, who usually has this indefinable spark to her writing. a low-level thrum in the underwriting. she is dangerous and funny and unexpected. and there is some of that here, but a lot of this reads like a well-constructed thriller, the kind that they make into a "redefining the genre" movie like The Silence of the Lambs or Primal Fear.it is very good, but it didn't make me dance.
but i don't want to diminish this - she manages some pretty tricky things in this novel. when i was reading/reviewing Ship Breaker, i made a point of mentioning that the global-warming stuff was very nearly off-putting, but he didn't push the button hard enough to make me completely queasy. now liz jensen, she throws her whole body on that button and gyrates around, but for some reason, it didn't bother me,. it was like watching my body on an operating table: i was thinking "this should be bothering me, but it isn't."
she has a skill, this one.
and the ending is simply perfect. i will in no way spoil it by saying that there was an easy way out, and a "satisfying" way out, and a "reasonable" way out. and liz jensen took the most complicated choice,the one that was probably the most difficult to write, and wrote it very well. my hat is off to her. she leaves the reader feeling uneasy, which is the best thing she could have done.
i do recommend this book, because it is very good, but in the spectrum of "liz jensen books i have loved," this one is just lower than most....more
it opens with a funeral scene in rural germany - three men and a woman attend the burial of a woman; a chthis book was an easy near-five stars for me.
it opens with a funeral scene in rural germany - three men and a woman attend the burial of a woman; a childhood friend. there is an awkward conversation, sprinkled with resentment and innuendo. at the close of the prologue, the woman triumphantly pisses on the grave.
everyone's got grudges...
what follows is a series of short stories, alternating between the perspectives of all five characters, as they dispassionately recount the horrific (to the reader) childhood experiences occurring in their deliberately insular village of hemmersmoor. they are all told in first-person past-tense, so it is unclear whether they are remembrancing things past as adults, or narrating the stories as children, but i prefer to think that they are told in the voice of a child, self-reflecting; musing on things just-past with only themselves as audience.
kids are scary. you know this, right?
and this village helps to foster the scary. small villages, cut off from the rest of the world make their own rules. here, "murder" is just another word for "justice," and superstition, tradition, folklore, and magic have the power to shape destinies. there will be incest, arson, facial scarring,character assassination, cannibalism, and soul-stealing. just to begin with.
the stories are narrated in a very straightforward, matter-of-fact manner. this is german horror, after all. it is quietly chilling, rather than going for grand gestures. there is casual violence undercutting these stories without any real emotional response. awful things happen, and life goes on. there is an emphasis upon the erasure of the past:
Nobody shed a tear for the youths, and what had happened to the people who had lived in the camp before them, nobody was interested in either. Despite the photo in my living room, despite the vans that had delivered groceries to this other village on a daily basis, and despite the railroad track that led right through it, nobody in Hemmersmoor could say who the people in the camp had been. Nobody remembered the ones who had lived there, slept in the barracks, and died. There had never been such people.
which is probably the scariest thing of all. atrocities should leave emotional scars, but here, their fading is taken for granted, life goes on, murders become barstool anecdotes, and while individuals remember, and will eventually piss on your grave,the community-at-large will have all but forgotten, or consigned your suffering to legend.
this book comes highly recommended from me. a very under-the-skin kind of book that has a true shirley jackson feel, and not just that knee-jerk name-drop that comes when people want to describe literary horror. christian's chapters are particularly good - just complete bland teenage sociopathy. brrrrrr
and i am a little disappointed that i have an advanced readers' copy from ALA. reading the other reviews of this on here, it seems the published book has a feature mine lacks, one which i am going to confirm at work today. watch this space.
oh, it's just a regular book doo dee doo
until you hold it under the light...
can you see that?? so cool. i love details....more
so super-psyched that i was able to get a netgalley pre-u.s release of this book. not that many of you care, because so few people read li liz. jensen.
so super-psyched that i was able to get a netgalley pre-u.s release of this book. not that many of you care, because so few people read liz jensen. which is, i think, the cause of most of the world's ills. floundering economy? probably because not enough people are reading liz jensen. hurricane sandy?? happened 'cuz not enough people have read liz jensen. rihanna and katy perry are fighting?? all of this could have been avoided by just one or two more of you reading some liz jensen. so get out there and take back the world. go ahead and start with this book, because it is pretty sweet.
and i mean "sweet" in the darkest and most horrifying definition of the word. this book centers around hesketh lock, whose asperger's syndrome prevents him from making emotional attachments to the people in his life, but makes him very good at his job as an anthropologist, employed to discover patterns of behavior across populations.
'When it comes to gauging human behaviour, it's an asset. It's like colour-blind people being deployed by the military to detect camouflage,'I reply. 'They look for the shapes rather than the colours.'
and he is very good at pattern-recognition. also numbers, colors, and origami. less-good at remembering the faces of women with whom he has had sex, but what does that get you, at the end of the day?
the world is in need of a hesketh to make sense of some disturbing recurring instances of extreme violence: children all over the world are lashing out at their family members, attacking and killing them with no memory of their actions afterward, and unwilling to discuss or even acknowledge the events. concurrently, acts of corporate sabotage are occurring across the globe, whose perpetrators claim to have seen strange things, and shortly thereafter, commit suicide.
how are these phenomena connected? can hasketh, the "robot made of meat" get to the bottom of it with venn diagrams and ozuru?? sure he can, but sometimes the answers are more horrifying than anyone could have anticipated.
this is an incredibly satisfying book, emotionally, intellectually, and philosophically.it is liz jensen at her finest, and i think i am going to go ahead and up this to the full five stars. why not?
i am encouraging you to read this. heed me, please.
there is a little problem with the netgalley edition, though, one in which every word that uses the letter-combinations "ff", "fi", or "fl" will just have those letters omitted completely, so it was a little annoying, but you would be surprised at how quickly your reader-eyes adjust to it. and also surprising how many words use these letter combinations. eye-opening all around....more
this is one of those slipstream novels that crosses genres and undermines the reader at every turn, usually in a good way.
it is about two boys, born m this is one of those slipstream novels that crosses genres and undermines the reader at every turn, usually in a good way.
it is about two boys, born minutes apart under unusual circumstances. they grow up very physically close to each other, but they are odd kids, to say the least, and they neither interact with their peers nor with each other. and yet they can always be seen near each other, as though there is some force pushing them together while not manifesting itself in any real friendship, nor even in communication. and they pretty much hate each other, actually, developing this intense competitive spirit that shoots them to the top of the class, but singles them out as "that which is to be avoided."
they have a charisma, which makes people notice them, but not want to get too close. they can influence the behavior of people around them. they can predict the future, as they write stories for their classes which are precocious in a dangerous way. they know more than their years can account for, and they frequently refer to "grandfather" as the source of their knowledge. they are...not like other boys.
and they grow up and each becomes a writer with cult followings of their own, but their dark novels keep mirroring each other in titles and content, and the books seem to exert a singular influence over their readers. and their competitiveness; their combativeness, persists, until one of them kills the other.
this murder occurs in the first few pages, so i am not being a spoiler-fairy.
the rest of the book traces their beginnings, and the way that their existence and influence changes the lives of those around them, usually in a bloody, bloody way.
it is part detective-noir, as the crime is unraveled. it is part sci-fi, in its supernatural elements. it is part horror in its...horror. and it is part philosophical/metaphysical meditation in its driving force.
and it's good. maybe not as successful, to me, as The Man from Primrose Lane: A Novel, which is another book that smacks genre in the face in a sorta similar way, and maybe if i hadn't read that one before this, i would have liked this one more than i did. comparison is an unavoidable bitch.
the problem for me, was just that the boys, the men, remained ciphers. and i know that was intentional, obviously, but because the story is told through the eyes of people on their periphery, people whom they have influenced, their story is never completely told. they remain an enigmatic fascination to people around them without ever really being given their own story, just the story their existence wreaks on the lives of others. one of them does have a POV chapter, at the end but it is not as satisfying as the chapters of the other characters. there is a perfectly valid reason for this, but my lips are sealed.
despite being someone well-trained in the art of readers' advisory, sometimes it can be difficult to place the right book in the hands of the right redespite being someone well-trained in the art of readers' advisory, sometimes it can be difficult to place the right book in the hands of the right reader, because people tend to be vague about what kind of book they are looking for. it is very infrequent indeed that someone will specifically ask for a book about "tattoos, feral children, cannibals, twins, marathon runners, bath salts, and the fierceness of motherhood."