City of Saints and Madmen
From the author of Annihilation, now a major motion picture on Netflix
In the city of Ambergris, a would-be suitor discovers a sunlit street can become a killing ground in the blink of an eye. An artist receives an invitation to a beheading and finds himself enchanted. And a patient in a mental institution is convinced he’s imagined a city called Ambergris, invented its...more
“City of Saints and Madmen” (“COSAM”) not only explores a world of New Weird author’s Jeff VanderMeer’s creation, it gives a detailed insight into the method of his creativity.
It’s not just a fantasy novel, but a highly accessible and rewarding exercise in metafiction.
It’s a composite of works: short stories or perhaps novellas, fictional notes, fragments of drafts, reminders, observations, word sketches, drawings, illustrations, doodles, dream diary entries, the histor ...more
I'm there again. There's something in it reminiscent of the moment after a car accide ...more
Jeff VanderMeer is a self-proclaimed "New-Weird" writer.
The New Weird genre as we see it in Vandermeer, started off with the works of authors such as Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft.
A more modern example of another New-Weird author, would be China Miéville.
Most people may know the first two authors mentioned as horror writers, and it is true that Vandermeer's stories contain a flavor of horror, though many of them are too humorous to be classed as horror. The stories also contain a whiff of ...more
Yeah, yeah, but WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
In this case? I'd call this a tightly interwoven series of stories and faux academic papers surrounding the fictional city of Abergris. Expect strange mushrooms that range from hallucinogenic to gr ...more
“City of Saints and Madmen” is his first visit to the city of Ambergris; a city unlike anything I can think of in the modern world, that plays mix and match with references of geographical locations and eras that should have logically never met each other, and yet blend together artfully in this strange place. The book is constructed as a collection of stories of ...more
My favorite story within CoSaM was the Early History of Ambergris. The historian who writes/narrates the pamphlet (Duncan Shriek) added footnotes almost every other line; the footnotes take up nearly a ...more
Dradin, In Love
As Dradin experiences the rain, I am straining with the brightness of our first sunny day reflecting off the silky pages of City of Saints and Madmen, and I am struck by the sensuality of the experience a mere forty pages into VanderMeer’s opus. The weight of the book is comfortable in my ...more
For several years now, I’ve almost exclusively read books as research for my second novel. With few exceptions (when the books were short), I’ve been committed to that focus religiously. (As religiously as an atheist-buddhist-jew can be.) Not all the books I’ve read were chosen for concrete research, per se—such as, “I’ve invented a character w ...more
The book lay on the weathered coffee table, pages spilling loosely from its tattered, well-worn binding, a suggestion of mould dotting the cardboard of the inside jacket, close to the spine. The following elements were (barely) contained within:
• A beautifully written fantasy/horror novel, complete with intricate world-building, playful (indeed masterful), use of the English language, inexorable creeping dread and a strong sense of whimsy. Comparison ...more
I can appreciate the obvious beauty of the writing but there is absolutely nothing making me want to keep turning the page. I find the characters repulsive, the setting baroque and the writing overly concerned with it's own "trickiness". ...more
City of Saints and Madmen is a collection of tales set in Ambergris, ...more
In all the world, Ambergris stands as a beacon of hope and mystical wonder; built on the ruins of an ancient conquered paradise by the first of the great Cappan John Manzikerts, whose lineage would rule Ambergris for generations.
Yes, the history of Ambergri ...more
Before we reach the "beautiful cruelty" of the book’s end, we’ve gotten a tour of various parts of the city, we’ve met the mysterious original inhabitants of Ambergris, the gra ...more
Ambergris is a bewildering, heady, terrifying city of... well you guessed it, saints and madmen. And squid and fungus. The rich blend of humor, fantasy, and horror really worked, just electrifying. Many of the stories, some 10 ...more
Many reviews of this book mention its "puzzle-like" quality, but if this book is a puzzle, it is one in which th ...more
As a whole however, I'm not sure it worked for me. It's supposed to be a collection of stories about the city of Ambergris. It's a city filled with mysterious mushroom people, artists, a festival that involves squids and slaughter, and mystery. Abou ...more
This is essentially a fully immersive, highly self-referential collection of stories about the city Ambergris, the Freshwater Squid in the river that passes by, the mushroom people that are its original inhabitants, and the humans that try to make the city their own. There are glossaries, bibli ...more
Part novel, part anthology; part traditional narrative, part "found document"; part vaguely alternate history fantasy, part subliminal existential horror; City of Saints and Madmen is a queer beast that starts out innocuously enough but soon morphs into... well, not quite House of Leaves -- but that is the closest comparison.
...at least, "closest comp ...more
Worldbuilding: excellent, honestly. I could walk you through Ambergris right now.
Language and style: ah, what a wonder.
I'm not really sure what I enjoyed more. The writing or the world.
Storytelling: Well... You know, a bright new world is a good thing and painting that world with all those magnificent words an even better one. But there has to be a story somewhere in a book of several hundred pages.
There has to be at least one likeable person, flawed like everyone of us mortals, ...more
After I finished the first novella in this collection, I was so excited by the prospect of a full book of novellas like it. Even though I thought this was one big novel in its own right—it's actually a loosely linked collection of novellas in the city of Ambergris. Okay fine, so I couldn't lose myself in the world like I thought I'd be able to, but a d ...more
I struggled a bit with parts of it (mainly the rather boring religious elements) but the rest of it was just so interesting. I especially loved the last story about the copywriter in search of the perfect sentence while being haunted by dwarfs.
Oh I hear there is another Ambergris book too!
The structure of this book is fascinating, and I haven’t really seen something like it: I saw a Goodreads review of the next book in the series describe this one as “patchwork,” if I recall correctly, and that’s an absolutely apt word to use. It’s a portrait of a fictional city—Ambergris— that has been Frankensteined together using alternate history, alternative biology, short story, letters, and magazine articles. At one ...more
|Code in Tonsure’s Journal?||1||13||Aug 03, 2017 07:36AM|
|On Paths Unknown: Intertextual references in COSAM||17||25||Nov 23, 2015 08:51AM|
|On Paths Unknown: The Hoegbotton Guide to the Early History of Ambergris||3||17||Nov 17, 2015 08:41AM|
|On Paths Unknown: Dradin in Love: spoilers for mid-section starting with family flashback up to end of section IV||25||13||Oct 24, 2015 10:40AM|
|On Paths Unknown: City of Saints and Madmen :Clock-in and Welcome||25||49||Oct 18, 2015 03:34PM|