Jenny's Reviews > Edinburgh

Edinburgh by Alexander Chee
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's review
Nov 14, 07

Recommended for: everyone
Read in November, 2007

This book is completely fantastic. Everyone should read it immediately. It's about something depressing and over the top: this half Korean half Scottish 12 year old joins an all boys choir and the choir director sexually abuses all of the boys in the choir horribly and endlessly. The book's about how he deals with the evil psychological aftermath. But this is an atypical survival narrative. There's no easy liberation from suffering, which I think is completely realistic and honest. The book is gorgeous, and not at all depressing, I don't think. The writing is completely fucking exquisite. The themes are pretty elusive and complex, but totally fascinating. It deals with ideas of disembodiment and plays with symbols of fire, burning, sound, light, disguise/hiding/displacement/disassociation. The author does spectacular things with color. There are a lot of things about this book that you can't pin down, that you can't fix a label to, which I really like. I found there's a lot of paradox. The book is very much about his psychological and perhaps poetic journey, and is very much about love and loss of love and coming to terms with all of that -- and what it does inside a person. It's an amazing book. And it offers no easy answers, which is right on. It also has various fantastical elements; the writer said in an interview that he engaged in a kind of "novelistic sorcery" in writing this book. I mean, if nothing else, the writing and the imagery is so original and fresh, it's just an exhilarating read. Also, the book won a bunch of accolades, all of which I think it deserves, and more. Ack, I'm gushing....
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