I'll be honest - the bulk of the fourth star is for the beautiful hardcover edition's design. The book design evokes images of old library books, compI'll be honest - the bulk of the fourth star is for the beautiful hardcover edition's design. The book design evokes images of old library books, complete with stamps and due date slips. There's a note at the back saying that most of the old illustrations, "including marbled papers and old pages", came from books sourced from the London Public Library. The page and chapter numbering seems to come from old library stamps, and there's even a card pocket attached to the front cover. I am a sucker for this stuff, as anyone who has read my partial review of S., or indeed anyone who has ever met me, will tell you.
Just look at these pictures..
As for the story itself, it's classic Murakami. It has that sense of quiet magic which you expect from a Murakami novel, but it's in the form of a short story, almost suitable for children. I say "almost", as it contains sections which are quite dark, but then so do many of the classic fairytales, and let's face it - what do I know about children?
Overall, it's a gorgeous little book with a magical feel. You can read it in one hit and spend a lifetime with this beautiful thing sitting on your bookshelf. Why would you not buy this?!...more
Read as part of the Chaos Reading Emergency Group Read for True Detective & The Yellow King. So far, this is the creepiest of all the Lovecraft stRead as part of the Chaos Reading Emergency Group Read for True Detective & The Yellow King. So far, this is the creepiest of all the Lovecraft stories I've read. There were genuine goosebumps involved. I wish I had the time right now to read all of the Cthulhu mythos stories.. ------------------------------------------------------
This was a great story, and certainly my favourite Lovecraft to date. What a pity the audiobook version I listened to had a narrator with such poor English language skills! I couldn't believe it - every word with three syllables or more either had an extra syllable added on, or removed. I don't think he got a single one correct. Ever come across a word you've never seen before while narrating an audiobook? No worries - you just make up an alternative word and say it with confidence. The only people who'll notice are... those of us who've ever read a book, seen a movie or heard someone speak before. *facepalm*...more
That was an absolute dog's breakfast. I'm sorry, but there's just no other way to describe it. I'm not saying there aren't great ideas in there, possiThat was an absolute dog's breakfast. I'm sorry, but there's just no other way to describe it. I'm not saying there aren't great ideas in there, possibly even the beginnings of a great fantasy/sci-fi novel, but as a collection of short stories, it was just such a mess structurally. It starts off well enough - if you ignore the way-too-many gushing blurbs at the front followed by a lengthy introduction, which can best be described as a-writer-nobodys-ever-heard-of-gushing-about-another-writer-nobodys-ever-heard-of. The first actual story, "There Is Something So Quiet and Empty Inside of You That It Must Be Precious" is a really well crafted story, in which the sub-headings form part of plot. As a stand-alone story, this is a winner. Then things start to go bad..
The next story is the first of a series of stories that form about 2/3 of the book, in which Peek takes famous Americans and imagines them at various times in history. To what end? Well that is the question. As far as I can see, these stories don't contain any great insights or ideas, they're more like daydreams. The first of these centres on Mark Twain and his visit to Australia in the early 1890s. This actually happened, as did his support for the Indigenous people here, and their shocking treatment by the Europeans. This is really important, really deeply horrific subject matter. And the story did nothing to help the cause. It didn't give away any new insights, any new information, any alternative ways of seeing the situation - it just reads as an idle...what if.....? My view on this is that if you're going to write about this subject matter, you need to make it count and don't treat it lightly. I found the story verging on disrespect in that sense. The other "Dead Americans" stories didn't seem any meatier, unfortunately.
Then there's the rest of the book - a series of fantasy/sci-fi stories set in different parts of the same imagined world. Dark, beautiful, fascinating, original - all the things you'd like to see in a full-length novel, not shoved part-way inside a book of mediocre stories about the imagined doings of American celebrities.
To add insult to injury, the spelling and English grammar weren't the best. I don't think these were typos either, but a genuine lack of understanding. For example, throughout the book Peek uses the word, "bought" instead of "brought", and "too" instead of "to", then "antichamber"..... just shoot me. This went alongside a slightly clunky sentence structure throughout - words on the wrong sides of commas, slightly disordered sentences etc. I do have to wonder what the editor was thinking.
So this is what I mean when I say the book is a dog's breakfast: messy, careless, wasteful and ever so slightly distasteful.
Full Disclosure *I received an ARC copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. *I read to 70% of the way through before skimming to the end. I do genuinely make every effort to read ARCs through properly, however this is not the only book on my review pile, and I do think I saw enough to have an informed opinion. ...more