first things first: this book needs a new home and if anyone in the US wants my copy, I'm happy to give it to you. All you need do is pm me with a homfirst things first: this book needs a new home and if anyone in the US wants my copy, I'm happy to give it to you. All you need do is pm me with a home address and it's yours. Free. I pay postage.
second things: I've posted more at my reading journal, which is here if anyone is interested.
So what's up with this year's Booker Prize longlist? Both Eileen and Menmuir's The Many (the two I've read so far) are really dark reads peering into damaged psyches. I like this sort of thing, but had I known that my random choice of these two books one after the other would make for such disturbing reading, I probably would have read something lighter in between the two. Dark fiction appeals to me, but this pair of books together left me a bit gutted.
In John Banville's blurb from Penguin's website he notes that
"If Jim Thompson had married Patricia Highsmith – imagine that household – they might have conspired together to dream up something like Eileen."
Thompson I'm not feeling so much, but there is something akin to Highsmith in here in the sense that Moshfegh has written a book that left me wanting to take short breaks from roaming around in her repulsive main character's head. This novel takes on a week in the life of Eileen Dunlop as recalled by an older self some fifty years later, looking back to her last days as "angry little Eileen" leading up to the moment when she makes an escape from a strange "life of a nobody, a waif, invisible." Keeping in mind that in this novel appearances can be somewhat deceiving and that there's much more going on than meets the eye, whether or not we should be cheering her on is a judgment call that can't really be made until the final page has been turned.
While the dustjacket blurb says that there's a "Hitchcockian twist" in this novel, I didn't feel that one either. It's true that this "twist" is important to the overall story, but I kind of saw it coming so it wasn't as much of a "Hitchcockian" moment as I was led to believe by the blurb. I don't really think that plot is really the main focus here; it's much more a book about people and damage and how they end up being the way they are. Eileen turned out for me to be much less about reading a novel and became more of a foray into a seriously disturbed mind or two or three, and I liked it. Creepy, yes. Repulsive, yes. Difficult, definitely. But how people end up where they are in their lives and why they do what they do absolutely fascinates me and it's all here.
recommended for people who don't mind venturing into the dark. ...more
If I can grab a few minutes this week, I'll post what I think about this novel. In the meantime, if any brave reader upWhew. Not an easy read at all.
If I can grab a few minutes this week, I'll post what I think about this novel. In the meantime, if any brave reader up for a challenge in the US wants this book, I'm giving it away, so leave a message saying you want it and I'll hold it until after I post my thoughts. ...more
I liked this book. It took me two readings before I felt like I was getting somewhere with it -- the first time around I was puzzled enough to keep tuI liked this book. It took me two readings before I felt like I was getting somewhere with it -- the first time around I was puzzled enough to keep turning pages, and it wasn't until the ending when I realized a) that all is not as it seems on the surface here and b) I absolutely needed to read it again. This one appealed, and is still haunting me right now while I'm thinking about it.
The Many is certainly a cryptic novel which can be extremely frustrating, and given its size, it probably shouldn't take two readings for most people. In my case, the second read helped a lot, since there is not much that is said here by way of explanation, and there is much that a reader has to pick up through an examination of dreams and flashbacks and through drawing parallels. I often felt like the characters in this book -- "hemmed in", since there's a tense, claustrophobic feel to this story. It also had the effect of keeping me knocked off kilter the entire time. In spite of the fact that it was so enigmatic (and really, some of it is just plain strange at times), I found it a dark, sad and haunting book that I won't be forgetting any time soon. That's a good thing.
I think this one's going on the real-world book group list, and it's probably best suited for very, very patient readers since it's a bit slow going. Then again, it's definitely not a book you want to rush through.
Extremely challenging, but well worth it, as are all of Michael Cisco's works that I've read, both in short story format and novels. If you google theExtremely challenging, but well worth it, as are all of Michael Cisco's works that I've read, both in short story format and novels. If you google the author, the phrase "avant-garde" comes up a lot, and that pretty much sums up his style of writing. The Wretch of the Sun is a demanding read, which calls for active reader participation, since he's certainly not going to be handing out answers in a clearly-defined way.
Trying to explain this novel is probably as challenging as reading it, so I'm not even going to try it here. You can always pop over to my reading journal where I post about this stuff for my feeble attempt at a brief summary if you're interested. But what I can say is this: If you get to the end of this book and you say "WTF did I just read," well, maybe Michael Cisco isn't your cuppa. But if you get to the end of this book like I did and think "oh my god, what a creepy story, all the more creepy because he nails it" then go on and read the rest of his work. Cisco is definitely not a mainstream writer relying on standard tropes or same-old same-old (which is a good thing for me), and his writing takes a lot of work and time. But patience is its own reward in this case.
By the way, a very special thanks to the person known as Seregil of Rhiminee at Risingshadow who told me about this book in an online group we're in together here. You were right. I loved it....more
It's true that I don't normally find myself reading crime novels with a romantiread in June; more about this book, of course, at my reading journal.
It's true that I don't normally find myself reading crime novels with a romantic edge to them; au contraire, I seem to be on a steady diet of dark, no-frills, edgy, psychological, existentialist-bent, noirish, largely obscure and downright gritty, no-holds barred (but always well written!) crime fiction. So, after having read several of these for a while, after having finished some even darker fiction and some even more horrific (because they're true) nonfiction books, I figured it was time to give the old, tired, and probably by-now warped brain a rest. What better way than to relax with some light historical crime fiction? As I was looking forward to a restorative, ahhhh-this-is-going-to-be-just-what-the-doctor-ordered kind of novel, -- surprise! It turns out that Ms. Rizzolo isn't all sunshine and light: On a Desert Shore picks up some definite Gothic tones, there is an horrific crime at the heart of this book, and if that's not enough, there is also the issue of slavery that she weaves most deftly into her tale.
Yes, there are a few sweetish sort of romantic spots in this book (the sort I generally avoid like the plague) but seriously, to her credit unlike many authors I've read, this one keeps them to a minimum; no bodice ripping here. The story focuses way more on the crime and the characters, on London itself, and it's a fun way to pass a lazy reading day. ...more