No so much a novel about New York, contrary to what many critics and reviewers have said, than a novel of what it means to be born, somewhere, in a faNo so much a novel about New York, contrary to what many critics and reviewers have said, than a novel of what it means to be born, somewhere, in a family, and to die, and to meet other people in the in-between. As it happens, the lives in this novel intersect in New York, on the day, or just before, or just after, a man walked between the two towers. Of course, the symbol is potent, though I am not sure what it signifies when put in contrast to the lives of the characters.
Anyway, Colum McCann's writing style is deceptively simple, and has the power of hitting you directly -- raw emotion springing from the page. This is the Irish storyteller mastering his art, but also the well-travelled, clothes- and boots-dusted cunning of the one who walked the roads that crossed America, as well as the world-savvy modesty of the one who has crossed the Atlantic.
However, while the characters are very well portrayed and poignantly empathic, then, suddenly, abruptly, McCann leaves one of them, only to pick it up at the very end, transformed, transfigured even, but not bothering to tell us why, and how this came to be, this absurd evolution, and I must admit that it left me somehow annoyed. Which is good news, when you consider it. ...more
After the breathtaking CosmoZ, Claro comes back, and he is haunted by the same spectres. At the heart of his work, there is the anxious question: whatAfter the breathtaking CosmoZ, Claro comes back, and he is haunted by the same spectres. At the heart of his work, there is the anxious question: what is literature and who are the characters that are formed out of words?
In this novel, Claro conjures up the memories of what happened in Pont-Saint-Esprit in 1951, mixed them with tales of CIA-led conspiracy to produce two characters, two misfits. The first is the aptly-named Antoine, a young orphan found (of course) in Pont-Saint-Esprit who embodies the epidemic that plagued the town. The second is Lucy, a young woman who fled from home to New York where she prostitutes herself to pay her drugs. This is how and where she meets Wren Kroy, the also aptly-named CIA operative who recruits her to test a new drug, which she also embodies.
Indeed, this novel is a literary quest, charged with symbolism, towards meaning and, in so doing, towards grace, of course, since this is from Claro. Reminiscent, somehow, of Gracq, pulsing with hallucinatory powers in a style that is constantly pushed towards its limits, "Tous les diamants du ciel" is a roman-à-clef.
Problem is: there are numerous keys in this novel, but no lock to open them with.
How to tell the story of a legend? How to tell history? How to tell a story in history?
Joseph O'Connor continues, after "Star of the Sea," to exploreHow to tell the story of a legend? How to tell history? How to tell a story in history?
Joseph O'Connor continues, after "Star of the Sea," to explore history, a history charged with significance for Ireland and the Irish. A single thread links his previous novel set in the time of the Famine with this one, set in the American Civil War. Contrary to Star of the Sea, this novel isn't a web of lives intermingling but focuses on one powerful, larger-than-life, figure: James O'Keefe, an Irish revolutionary exiled to Australia by the Queen's government who subsequently escaped to come to America at a time when its people were unsure of how to call themselves: "Confederate" or "United" States. O'Keefe, apparently paradoxically, enlisted in the Union army as colonel, raising an Irish Brigade to fight for the Union. As the novel begins, just in the aftermath of the war, having seen almost all his men die, he is now the acting governor of the Territory, a settlers' domain in the West where he is almost universally reviled as a traitor. The other central character is her wife, Lucia, and most of the mystery surrounding the colonel comes from their relationship.
O'Connor continues the same narrative procedure he used in Star of the Sea: his novel is composed of fragments of journals, posters, official documents, transcripts of interrogations, oral interviews -- all of them making it possible for the reader to immerse himself in the time period of the war.
I found the novel slow to launch but, after this first impression, I was enthralled by the character of Con. O'Keefe. One of the best moment is when the captain cartographer (and former adulterous lover of Lucia) meets with the colonel. O'Connor describes magnificently a lurking but overwhelming figure, reclining by the fire in company of his giant Irish hound, but also a declining figure, looming amidst a decadent mayhem of papers, Louis XV-furnitures (brought here by his wife) and beasts' hides.
Unfortunately, I found the novel sometimes a little tedious in places: advancing the plot by indirect means can frustrate the reader because he doesn't see for himself, so to speak, what is going on and tries to recollect afterwards what happened. I very well know that it is precisely the project of the novel to make us understand what is history (i.e., a recollection of the past via subjective and incomplete sources) but O'Connor sometimes uses his narrator to tell his story in a regular manner, so he undermines himself his project.
Nonetheless, because of the richness of the setting, because of the fascination the main character exercised over me, because of the study on languages in the novel, I would recommend "Redemption Falls" to anyone interested in the United States, in Ireland and in what is history and how a legend is made....more
I can't decide yet what I think of this novel which is deceptively simple in its reading but which structure belies a formidable literary project. MorI can't decide yet what I think of this novel which is deceptively simple in its reading but which structure belies a formidable literary project. More to come. ...more
This third volume is much better than the precedent one. In Red Talons, the main character, Storm Eye, has a very interesting past and her backgroundThis third volume is much better than the precedent one. In Red Talons, the main character, Storm Eye, has a very interesting past and her background as a wolf reveals a intern conflict that she have led for some time against her human side. In so doing, the author, Philippe Boule manages to put a very impressive feat: showing us what it could mean to be a werewolf born as a wolf -- or to put it otherwise, what it means to be a wolf capable of shape-shifting into a human and as such capable of thinking as a human. Storm Eye's tragic tale is also a great opportunity to show us, readers, the world of Lupus-dominated caerns and septs in the Canadian north, and it is a huge addition to the Werewolf universe.
The Fianna novel has a weaker lead character but resumes the storyline about Arkady who is clearly and should have been much more decisively the central character of the Garou saga novels. Arkady is a complex, psychologically interesting anti-hero, much more deep and thought than other typical Garou characters (such as Albrecht whom I especially despise with his straight-out, unthinking, bold attitude). As such, the novel is interesting and even if some passages read like they have been hastily written, others demonstrate Eric Griffin's writing skills. The cinematic cutting into chapters that strongly resemble film scenes works against the narrative flow in this novel, and I'm sure that without these constraints and with more time, more work and more attention, this novel could have been much better. Also, it contains a good point, renewing in quality, i.e. every character and every situation needs not to make perfect sense, to fit perfectly into the plot and to be easily identifiable. The witch character, Deirdre, is both frightening and wonderful in her very strangeness.
All in all, a much better volume, one which makes me want to continue to re-read this series, especially with the revelation about what lay at the heart of the mountain where it all began and the quest that Arkady has decided to embark on. ...more
I remember having been disappointed when I first read the Werewolf novels series. Re-reading the second tome, I was reminded why. Both novels fail inI remember having been disappointed when I first read the Werewolf novels series. Re-reading the second tome, I was reminded why. Both novels fail in their stated or unstated objectives.
The stated objective is to give us the perspective of a representative member of one of the 12 tribes, here the Black Furies (with New Yorker and King Albrecht packmate Mari Cabrah) and the Silent Striders (with Mephi Faster-than-Death, who was a new signature character of the game).
I am sad to say that both characters don't feel real. Maybe it's the novels' format, too short for the writers to expand on their characters' psychology and motivations, but never I really felt any empathy for them. Their reasoning, their motives seem shallow.
The other, unstated, objective was to give the readers an impression of what is the life of a werewolf like. And in this regard the novels are a disappointment. The worst example concerns the Umbra, the spirit world the werewolves can see and enter. Travel in the Umbra is a metaphor, I understand, but the descriptions don't convey any sense of what it is like.
These novels benefit from two strengths, however: the plot has good hooks and it's really interesting that the action takes place in Eastern Europe (even if the characters don't feel like Eastern Europeans but more like Americans). The saddest thing is that in trying to develop a series of novels with one novel for each tribe even when it was not relevant to do so, the authors were too constrained and they couldn't use their otherwise considerable talent. ...more
The first part in the 7-parts saga of Werewolf: The Apocalypse novels. I've read them when they first came out and picked this first novel from my sheThe first part in the 7-parts saga of Werewolf: The Apocalypse novels. I've read them when they first came out and picked this first novel from my shelves just before leaving for Greece to read on the plane since Werewolf: 20th anniversary made me want to re-connect with my "primal self."
Re-reading these first two novels, I really liked the first one, "Shadow Lords," but found the second one, "Get of Fenris," quite faulty. Affirming the Fenrirs' rambunctious way and appreciation of life by repeating it with a lot of adjectives is not the same thing as actually making the reader see and feel it. It's often the fault I find in those who profess an admiration for the Fenrir and for the values they are associated with (virility, strength, family, etc.): stating how much one venerate them without making us understand why only strikes me as the uttering of a would-be reactionary or even fascist. Which can become a problem.
Anyway, this is probably too severe a critic for a RPG novel but I had often this impression when reading some texts for Werewolf. And I regret it because I share the values they werewolves stand for, even metaphorically and in the context of a game. This is why I don't want to see them treated in a stereotypical fashion. ...more
This is, fittingly, a strange book. Written in the affected style of the period in which the story told takes place, it is sometimes a little tedious,This is, fittingly, a strange book. Written in the affected style of the period in which the story told takes place, it is sometimes a little tedious, the author being too much in love with her own style and forgetting to actually tell the story. I therefore understand but don't share those who didn't like the book because of this. The great strength of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell lies in the details and the depth of Susanna Clarke's universe. In fact, I think I would have been more interested in reading the fictitious History of Magic by Jonathan Strange than the actual book. Indeed, I found entire chapters not really engaging. The main problem, I think, lies in the characters. Here again, Clarke doesn't delve into her characters' psyche, as early (or, to my best knowledge, rather mid- or even late-) 19th-century writers tended to do when writing horror or other genre stories, letting their speech and actions speak for themselves. However, the problem is that after 1,000+ pages I feel no sympathy or even empathy for any one of them. The only mystery remaining is that of the Raven King himself, but then again, after such a long novel, it is rather frustrating to be left in the dark concerning the central figure of this tale. But I don't want to be to harsh. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell remains a fine novel, very agreeable to read and a almost constant pleasure. I would have like to see more fairies and not just only one. In fact, I wonder if Clarke would have not made a better choice to set her novel in the medieval period when the Raven King reigned, telling the story of how he fell from power. A second novel could have told the fall on English magic and the third its revival. Each one would have been considerably shorter than the actual book. ...more
Not entirely finished, in fact, but I'm done with it for the moment. And then, one day, the urge to continue reading the adventures of my favourite deNot entirely finished, in fact, but I'm done with it for the moment. And then, one day, the urge to continue reading the adventures of my favourite detective will come back......more