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The Silk Road

3.10  ·  Rating details ·  84 ratings  ·  24 reviews
A spellbinding novel about transience and mortality, by one of the most original voices in American literature

The Silk Road begins on a mat in yoga class, deep within a labyrinth on a settlement somewhere in the icy north, under the canny guidance of Jee Moon. When someone fails to arise from corpse pose, the Astronomer, the Archivist, the Botanist, the Keeper, the Topolog
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Graywolf Press
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3.10  · 
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 ·  84 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: usa, 2018-read
In her experimental novel, Davis creates a highly associative narrative, full of characters and events charged with ambiguous meanings - there seems to be no limit to the possibilities a reader has to connect the dots. When eight siblings, enigmatically called the Astronomer, the Archivist, the Botanist, the Keeper, the Topologist, the Geographer, the Iceman, and the Cook are doing corpse pose at the end of a yoga class below an icy landscape (no, I am not kidding you), one of them fails to aris ...more
Dec 05, 2018 marked it as abandoned
I read the first 40 pages of this slim book twice. While it did become somewhat more penetrable the second time around, it shall remain "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma" and not one that has made me curious enough to continue on in this state of confusion for 100 or so more pages.

Throw the poor reader a lifeline Ms Davis, sexy moss is just not enough.
Bill Hsu
Mar 28, 2019 rated it liked it
As with my other Kathryn Davis experiences, it's often hard to tell what's going on. But who cares when one can get lost in sentences like:
The Topologist could feel the Botanist scrutinizing her for a sign of whatever it was that had turned her from a stern-faced girl with dark brows and thin brown hair and a long upper lip, a string bean of a girl wearing pale blue cat's-eye glasses, into what she was now, a tube of skin that could be stretched into a torus to contain an entire universe.
Jennifer Ochoa
Nov 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2018, read-gave-away
DNF. Got over halfway through and realized I was wasting my time. A review mentioned it putting the reader into a kind of fugue state and if you enjoy that kind of thing, you might like this book. You will have no clue what this story is about, when it is, where it is, what the plot is (is there one?). I prefer my fugue states to involve not thinking so hard. It's why I tend to avoid poetry in my free time.
May 15, 2019 rated it liked it
An interesting novel, but not as interesting as the NYTimes made it sound.
cardulelia carduelis
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What in the actual. hell. did I just read?

Alright so I've done something with this book that I would never normally do: reread it immediately upon finishing. I had to because I've never been so uncertain about plot in something that is this clearly written. The Silk Road is a very strange beast. Each sentence is incredibly rendered with needle-tip precision but put each one together and things quickly get... weird.
Here's what it's like: an off-beat alt-pop song that's been glitched the shit out
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is impressively done, but it certainly is a bit discombobulating as well. I’m sure I only got a portion of it. Perhaps a bit too conceptual for me to follow, I still enjoyed reading.
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm afraid I don't have much to say about this short, occasionally breahtaking book that goes much beyond what everyone says. It's mysterious, and kind of hard to follow, but still funny and warm to the touch-- the circumstances and their consequences feel indistinct, but the characters are real, even if their lack of traditional names (they are all The Cook or The Botanist, etc) made them a little hard to keep straight. But two things are worth mentioning: first, there's this central conceit, o ...more
Susan Ritz
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Kathryn Davis is one of those authors who takes me completely out of myself and into a parallel world where time is fluid, magic abounds and characters are mercurial. The Silk Road is a book that feels like a marvelous dream, taking the reader from a frozen land of future, to the childhood neighborhood of the past, to a walking tour through the present. Everything feels Topsy-turbulent, hard to hang on to, but in a way that compelled me deeper and deeper into the dream. The characters are archet ...more
Genevieve Taylor
Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Past, present, and future blend in this literary science-fiction. An allegory novel that evokes the Canterbury Tales, the book unfolds in the stories told by the occupants of a seemingly post-apocalyptic shelter. Reality and memory weave in and out as each resident recounts the journey that led them here, and their experiences of the present intertwine. The story comes together like a tapestry, woven of many different pieces. One of those books that should be read and read again, and each readin ...more
Mar 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
There is not much to be said about this book. Only thing I can think of, wasn't worth my time one bit. The characters were so flat it was unbelievable and let I kept going with this book based on its length but I'm glad I checked this out of the library first instead of buying it.

For some people this book might be enjoyable and the concept of the story is very interesting. Unfortunately, the execution was done poorly.
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Some of these reviews are real irritating. I know it’s goodreads and I should set the bar low, but come on. The fact that you don’t “get it” and don’t want to work for it says more about you as a reader than it does about the novel itself. Return to your James Patterson. You don’t deserve Kathryn Davis.
Hannah Bishop
Mar 15, 2019 rated it did not like it
I like experimental and abstract, but this just didn’t seem cohesive. I was constantly wondering if I should continue or stop reading, but I insisted on giving it a chance in the hopes something would click. Having finished, that did not happen. I’m sure with a lot of work you could make sense of it, but I didn’t think it was worth it.
Apr 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
Yeah..... it is very sad when you spend four days reading a book and still have no clue what it is about in the end. A grand waste of time and energy. With absolutely no plot, flat characters you couldn't even tell apart, and lengthy sentences that didn't even need to exist..... it was bad. It was very very bad.
May 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
I knew this was not going to be a straightforward novel, but it was a bit more labyrinthine than I was prepared for. Not sure I even understood much of what it was about. The writing itself was great but be prepared for a hard go. No skimming. Even though it is short, it takes as long to read as a regular length novel.
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
elliptical and dreamlike. gorgeous prose.
Michael Schill
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
like a dream in every way
Matthew Holley
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
Hmm no. This kind of book is not for me. It seems experimental, with no traditional narrative, and I’m sure there’s a lot of symbolic and philosophical content within it that I did not recognize nor am I interested in doing so. Whatever this book is (“a novel”? Really?) it’s not the reason that I read books.
HOWEVER, I gave it 2 stars because despite the confusion and despite the frustration that I experienced reading this book, there was still something about the writing, about the language, th
Tammy Grimm
May 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Very confusing! Unlike other novels, I had to reread the pages to try to determine what the author was trying to portray.
Luke Bjorge
Mar 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
Annoying. Glad it was so short. Abstract to the point of being unreadable. Found myself zoning out like I was at a particularly boring lecture. Wouldn’t recommend to anyone ever.
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018, 22
More dreamlike than narrative and lacking cohesiveness.
May 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
What a weird little book. Dystopian fiction? Stream of consciousness? Allegory? I can't tell what it is. I can see it's good writing, but what?
rated it liked it
Jan 20, 2019
rated it did not like it
Mar 15, 2019
Michael Taeckens
rated it it was amazing
Jan 06, 2019
Mason Neil
rated it liked it
Apr 23, 2019
Ethan Nosowsky
rated it it was amazing
Aug 16, 2018
rated it really liked it
Mar 07, 2019
Katharine Coldiron
rated it really liked it
May 22, 2019
rated it really liked it
Nov 17, 2018
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Goodreads Librari...: Combine Editions - "The Silk Road" by Kathryn Davis 2 11 Dec 30, 2018 09:12PM  
Kathryn Davis is an award-winning American novelist.

Davis has taught at Skidmore College, and is now senior fiction writer in the Writing Program in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

She is a recipient of the Kafka Prize, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1999, a 2000 Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction
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“One foot in front of the other. This is how a person walks... A trail unfolding just ahead of each footstep... resilient underfoot.” 0 likes
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