An American Story
A powerful meditation on loss and memory seen through the prism of 9/11, by one of our greatest authors.
Ben Matson lost someone he loved in the 9/11 attacks. Or thinks he did - no body has been recovered, and she shouldn't have been on that particular plane at that time. But he knows she was.
The world has moved on from that terrible day. Nearly 20 years later, it has...more
An American Story is an extraordinary book, although it's hard to pin down why in a review, or indeed to pin it down at all. I think that's the point.
Part thriller, part love story, part examination of loss and grief, part history, this book revolves around the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the USA. It's not science fiction or fantasy - I wondered if Priest would use that to get at the reality (or realities?) behind 9/11 but I ...more
- as a novel (characters, energy, prose, structure) is superb and engrossing though it has no real sff elements (the only arguably sfnal element is the post-Brexit, independent Scotland part of EU vs the paranoic and isolated England)
- regarding 9/11 the storyline was ok, it didn't bother me and it sounded about right regarding the ...more
To do this, Priest makes uses of a mathematician who seems to be involved in a project that draws a parallel between a mathematical conjecture and a psychohistory-like concept where reality is forged from perception. I say ‘ ...more
Por otro lado, Priest vuelve a ahondar en la mente humana. En este caso en como reacciona tras unos eventos tan criticos como los que sucedieron en Nueva York.
Lo he leido con agrado.
The way book is written as almost a stream of consciousness, can be a little offputting at first as it feels almost tangential, however I think it adds to the personality of the book as it continues, giving us what Ben is going through, what he is thinking and what is going on throughout the book.
The plot unravels well, but the whole ...more
For a while I thought it was going to be a profound exploration of objectivity, reality and the bedrock of truth - topics Priest has been interested in over many years. There’s a moment, about two-thirds of the way through, when the main character, Ben Matson and his ailing mother-in-law (she’s recently suffered a stroke) have conflicting memories about a particular event (the details of which aren’t worth discussing). It’s here I thought Priest, like he had ...more
However, it's weakness is that it contains an uneasy mix of reality and fiction. It is an energetic indictment of the American government for manipulating truth in pursuit of political ends married to a novel about love and loss and getting on with life. The novel suffers as a result. Priest is clearly very angry (as are many of us) about the way life has changed since 9/11. He wants to ...more
An American Story is rather a left turn in Priest's oeuvre, a thinly veiled journalistic fiction regarding the causes outcomes, and coverup of the 9/11 tragedy. The narrator, a science journalist, investigates 9/11 relentlessly at various times over the 20 ...more
Deception, ambiguity, misleading references, conflicting statements... Chris Priest always challenges a ...more
He tells the story in a typical Priestian way; a couple of chapters in and I was really enjoying it and looking forward to the dark twists and turns that would be uncovered. But that wasn't really to be. Three quarters through, and it really felt like ...more
It is not surprising that the book was not published in the States. Not surprising by quite shocking honestly as the novel perfectly explains why it is wrong: by not debating this event, we surrendered our ...more
Christopher Priest has written a thoughtful and rather uncomfortable novel. At some point you will set the book down and ask yourself if you're really sitting through a 9/11 truther novel. And then you'll wonder if Priest could write such a novel without being a truther himself. Hopefully at some point you will begin to question the binary nature of 9/11 conspiracies - why do we only have 2 choices - (1) believe everything the government tells us (which is laughable on the face of it) ...more
It's quite different to a usual Priest novel, in that it's very much centred around an actual event, but through fictitious characters. The first half especially I found readable and interesting, but I thought it lost it's way a bit by the end - and ultimately it's just a showcase for Chris's views on 9/11, ie, an alternate version to what was ...more
Readable and intriguing, which is only what you would expect from an author like Christopher Priest, but I can't say that, at the end, I felt either converted or uplifted.
The facts of the historical terrorist attacks becomes less knowable by the day, on both a shared mass media and an individual level. In the place of fact, or truth, story comes into being, writes itself out of the facts, is ...more
This book is basically straight-up fiction about how new niggling details about 9/11 rekindles the interest of the main character about the girlfriend he lost on that day. It’s well written as a Priest book always is with good prose and great characterization. It has the usual Priest style of uncertainty and unreliability, manifesting this time as ...more
He has published eleven novels, four short story collections and a number of other books, including critical works, biographies, novelizations and children’s non-fiction.
He has written drama for radio (BBC Radio 4) and television (Thames TV and HTV). In ...more