So I finally got around to tackling this book (or more like letting it tackle me) - and I must say this is definitely NOT a book for everyone. By thatSo I finally got around to tackling this book (or more like letting it tackle me) - and I must say this is definitely NOT a book for everyone. By that I mean that the book itself is conceived, structured, designed, and executed in a way that purposefully insulates - creating a sort or ring or sphere around the work (which means that it requires much work on the reader to find a way in). That said - history itself creeps in and there are amazing faint echoes and allusions that resound from the chronomosaics (history gutters) to the poetic central text. I do get why most people would not like this book, as it really does require ALOT from the reader, basically you have to flip the book back and forth, keep track of 4 distinct echoing parts on each page, deal with characters whose name shifts from page to page - and that doesn't even get into the fact that it is an epic poem written in an ever-evolving teenage slang. Oh, and also they can talk to plants and animals and their car shape-shifts its make and model.
But that said, once these uncertainties are overcome and the structure, technique, and voice begin to familiarize, you start to see a brilliantly unique and entangled story. Sam and Hailey have an ordained journey that takes them throughout America, but also an internal journey from ego to selflessness, or from Liberty to Love. Their language starts to become a song of sorts, and once you let go of complete understanding you begin to get a much better sense of what is happening. I know that sounds paradoxical, yet the archaic slang and animal/plant names really hung me up when I first read this book. Then on the second read through I became comfortable with animals and plants talking with Sam and Hailey (like in Disney movies) and realized the purpose of the slang. And once I got these bearings I realized that the specific language of Sam and Hailey act more as a chronological anchor and as such can generally be understood through context without the need for strict definition (although it is there and employed in fascinating ways)
Lastly, I'll say for those that may not have liked it but want to give it another shot, try reading it aloud or listening to the audio book (it is on Youtube). I got great joy out of the musicality of hearing this work read aloud and this also helped with understanding.
So basically I am saying: this book is a wholly unique reading experience, however you must: become familiar with 200 years of slang become familiar with 200 years of US history keep track of 4 resonant allusions across each page track the linear journey of Sam and Hailey through a circular story
This is ALOT to ask of a reader - but if that's your thing - this book will offer years of delight, pleasant surprise, philosophical wisdom, and last but not least - some of the best-written sex scenes in the history of literature. ...more
A strange blend of novel, poem, graphic design, descriptivist linguistics, geo-caching, and Cicada 3301-type mystery meets cryptography. As such - itsA strange blend of novel, poem, graphic design, descriptivist linguistics, geo-caching, and Cicada 3301-type mystery meets cryptography. As such - its a Danielewski novel.
Soon I will do a proper review of the series so far (through volume 4) - or really less of a review and more of a pleading to seekers of strange art tSoon I will do a proper review of the series so far (through volume 4) - or really less of a review and more of a pleading to seekers of strange art that pushes not just artistic, or literary boundaries, but personal, intimate boundaries. The world of The Familiar is wonderful and daring full of hypercolor and hyperobjects and I can't do it much justice in this short review outside of saying - READ THESE BOOKS. In 500 years these books will still be enchanting in the way William Blake's works are. That said - stay tuned for a more in depth explanation as to why I feel this way, but again in the meantime:
READ THESE BOOKS READ THESE BOOKS READ THESE BOOKS...more
So I really enjoyed this book and thought it was a four-starer, that is until a few weeks later (while engaging in a Halloween tradition with the MissSo I really enjoyed this book and thought it was a four-starer, that is until a few weeks later (while engaging in a Halloween tradition with the Misses - watching silly horror/suspense movies (not the Saw/Hostel gore fest either which is bizarre to me that people seek out - really just visit an abattoir)) I happened upon Skeleton Key - an all-too-forgettable affair starring Kate Hudson and that Sarsgaard feller (who seems like an okay actor until you look at his filmography (Flightplan, Orphan(!)). All this as a way of saying Skeleton Key is NOT something you lift material from. Oh did I mention Mitchell uses the SAME EXACT PREMISE (with oh-so-subtle changes) (and not to spoil an ending - but he also uses the same supernatural methodology) as this movie.
Now, to be fair, it could be that Skeleton Key is a rip off of a third source that Mitchell is also taking from (in the same way the Gospels all took from the same Q Source), but the whole experience took what was a good book and made it an okay book (as all the cool details seemed to have come from this movie).
Plagiarism is a tricky beast, and I usually let it slide, but it made me doubt this novella, and all the positive associations have now met their metaphorical antimatter of negativity - annihilating each other - conserving their energy in this pithy little review.
$$%! something, you probably will only like if you like to spend as much time looking shit up as time spent actually reading. and even then, probably$$%! something, you probably will only like if you like to spend as much time looking shit up as time spent actually reading. and even then, probably only half of those people will like it. that said I tried to approach it as not so much as a novel or a "reading" experience cause henry james it is not. I loved it - but I understand those that don't. as a "novel" its almost mislabeled. its more like installation art meets alternate reality game meets cryptography. my favorite part of the whole thing was reading an ama on reddit where the company from the book seemed to take over danielweski's keyboard, stopping the audience form getting the information that would provide clarity. I know, its sounds coy, but its the ambition that matches theme, that makes it worth it. and the guy can write. re-read the "cinnamon" section (ignore the damn parenthesis please) and dammit if it's not a best American short story.
I really don't like coming online and slamming a book that some other human being has spent countless hours of their life creating, and here I am tellI really don't like coming online and slamming a book that some other human being has spent countless hours of their life creating, and here I am telling other people DONT READ THIS BOOK!!! but really this must be an exception, only one other book has made me feel anything close to this one (miranda july's "no one belongs here"). but this book is exponentially worse than the few stories I read of that title. I'm not gonna get into WHY the book is so bad, as all bad books are bad in the same ways (ala Tolstoy's happy families). so really I am just here to say DON"T READ THIS BOOK!!!!! this is literally the worst book I have ever read. this is not hyperbole. bizarrely, I finished the book because it was the worst and we as humans are fascinated by outliers. also I listened to it on book on cd, and the narration wasn't very good either. thus, worst book ever, plus bad narration, equals - SAVE YOUR TIME AND MONEY, please.
p.s. I am sure some people loved this book and that's okay, to give you an idea of my feeling toward the writing, it is like someone ripping of marisha pessl (who has ripped off other, way better writers and whose novelistic arc looks like a water slide). but I just want to say its okay for me to loathe a book and others to love it, that does not make either of us idiots, dumb, stupid, etc. so if you do love this book, I'm glad you got something out of it as I only got the experience of the worst book I have ever read. alas, just trying to forestall and angry comments by those who love the book....more
this is a great sci-fi book with solid scientific ideas behind all of the cocamame (I've never seen this word written) schemes mark watney cooks up. Ithis is a great sci-fi book with solid scientific ideas behind all of the cocamame (I've never seen this word written) schemes mark watney cooks up. I also listened to this book on audio which provided another layer to the experience as much of the novel takes place as audio logs made by the protagonist. the plot is rather simple: man gets left on mars through no fault of anyones and must use his determination and ingenuity (sprinkled with a little humor) to try and survive for damn near three years so he will be alive when nasa can get a rescue crew back to mars.
but that is all secondary to the consistently surprising mcguyver-like efforts watney engages in to solve problems. one example: he doesn't have enough water and must use chemistry to CREATE water. this may be something elementary to more scientifically inclined individuals, but I found this fascinating (I won't give away the method as I recommend you go read the book now and find out for yourself). so there are many more life-threatening problems he must solve, and each contains thought-provoking ideas about problem solving and the delicate balance we as humans require to stay alive (we just happen to live on a planet that maintains this balance for us)
as for theme, it is rather secondary and I gave this book five stars on the believability of these solutions alone (not that they all would actually work - or even be tried, but they all had some solid physics ideas behind them). so for those interested in science, mars, problem solving, and a dash of devil-may-care humor and charm: here you go. enjoy!...more
an interesting title in general, but i got the sinking feeling that this whole thing was a personal marketing ploy ala don draper and that the authoran interesting title in general, but i got the sinking feeling that this whole thing was a personal marketing ploy ala don draper and that the author could care less about consumers and just found a great niche to sell books. ugh....more
a solid memoir with some heavy and powerful themes, of loss, redemption, and finding a path in life through which you can happily walk. i will say i wa solid memoir with some heavy and powerful themes, of loss, redemption, and finding a path in life through which you can happily walk. i will say i was happy as a reader not to have the typical one-upsmanship of rock memoirs; however, the gastrointestinal garrulousness was unnerving to this reader. My only major complaint (and the reason for 3 stars, although 3.5 is closer to how i feel about this book) is the tone. i struggled to find a unique authorial tone, rather it felt as if written in a universal tone of objectively writing about your subjective experience. there is a line in the book about trying to find a vocal style and how, the singer tried to blend hundreds of others vocal styles to create his own. and his self-perceived vocal weakness is the main issue with the book. that said, it takes a lot of time energy, reading, writing and re-writing just to sound professional. yet the technical proficiency shows a lack of authorial style (i.e. nabokov, borges, dfw, etc). and while it's kinda unfair to compare with the greatest 20th cent. writers, i feel like the emotional perspicacity, and humanity, and willingness to dive in the murky pool of the past and wrestle with embarrassing, needy, and foreign versions of yourself, is the correct foundation upon which can be built, the house of style. and when this author arrives there, we may have a literary mansion: the cement's been poured....more