I need to put some thought into this review, but I will say that Revival sees King treading interesting ground. It's a novel that manages to horrify oI need to put some thought into this review, but I will say that Revival sees King treading interesting ground. It's a novel that manages to horrify on a number of psychological levels without much in the way of classic supernatural horror. I really, really enjoyed this novel....more
If you are familiar with Chris Adrian's work, you will already know that it's beautiful, unsettling, and pretty much impossible to categorize. Is it mIf you are familiar with Chris Adrian's work, you will already know that it's beautiful, unsettling, and pretty much impossible to categorize. Is it magical realism? Literary fantasy? Modern fable? Certainly the recondite and sensitive subjects of illness, faith, and apocalypse are never far from the surface in his tales; sometimes bringing tragedy and other times visionary ecstasy.
The tales in A Better Angel nearly all feature children or teens, most carrying some kind of "mark" which separates them from their peers: a young boy becomes dissociative (or perhaps he's possessed?) after his mother's death; another mourns his dead twin in a peculiar way; and a 19th century farm boy has debilitating visions of angels and burning towers. There are also some funnier moments: In "Why, Antichrist?" a teenage boy grudgingly comes to accept that he is, in fact, the Antichrist; a sassy young woman with "short gut" delivers reports on life and death from the pediatric ICU; and in the hilarious title story, a man recalls his experiences growing up with an overly-critical guardian angel.
September 11th also hangs heavy over this 2008 collection, with the burning towers haunting it in both concrete and symbolic ways. Adrian's characters grieve loved ones lost that day, speak for its dead, and obsessively watch the unreal video footage of fiery blooms and people falling from the skies. It could be grisly, in lesser hands. Instead, Adrian is concerned with something infinitely more interesting than mere shock value. He's examining how we, as a culture and as individuals, cope with the paralyzing specters of illness and death, how faith might work for (or against) us, and how we begin to heal from tragedies both personal and universal.
I might knock off half a star just because, thematically, A Better Angel often covers very similar ground to Adrian's 2006 novel The Children's Hospital. It could easily feel repetitive, but Adrian's ability to bring the surreal into tales of daily life, with wit and honesty and crystalline prose, really blossoms in the short form. A truly weird and gorgeous book....more
I'm not usually a reader of "self-help" books, and I'm not going to damn this charming book with the epithet, though it is quite helpful. In a seriesI'm not usually a reader of "self-help" books, and I'm not going to damn this charming book with the epithet, though it is quite helpful. In a series of cleverly focused, easy-to-digest chapters, Parkin brings perhaps the key element of Eastern philosophy -- the concept of letting go in order to find freedom -- to a busy Western audience that just doesn't know how. And by reclaiming the titular phrase as a joyous affirmation in service of shucking off the psychological and societal pressures that make us stressed, anxious, and generally miserable, F**k It -- instead of being simply silly or faux-shocking -- is funny, realistic and enlightened.
Open this book to any page on a day you're feeling ready to explode (or implode), and I guarantee you'll feel better. Possibly even giggle. I suggest keeping a copy close at hand....more