Agnieszka’s review of The North Water > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Ken (new)

Ken Sounds interesting, including the cover art that makes water look like a whale's tail (echoes of Ahab)....


message 2: by Fionnuala (new)

Fionnuala It’s a bit like one of McCarthy’s characters enlisted on that whaler. Both authors seem to think of ruthlessness and cruelty to be immanent attribute of human nature…

They are not wrong, are they? And we don't have to enlist on a whaler to witness it. But a whaler does seem a suitable location to stage dispicable and brutal doings. Whales seem so human and the tracking and killing of them so vicious.


message 3: by Agnieszka (new)

Agnieszka Ken wrote: "Sounds interesting, including the cover art that makes water look like a whale's tail (echoes of Ahab)...."


Yes, it is an interesting reading. It reads like blend of adventure novel with thriller. And when I mentioned McCarthy here I meant his Holden and McGuire’s Drax to be set somewhat beyond good and evil, beyond our understanding of their nature.


message 4: by Agnieszka (new)

Agnieszka Fionnuala wrote: "It’s a bit like one of McCarthy’s characters enlisted on that whaler. Both authors seem to think of ruthlessness and cruelty to be immanent attribute of human nature…

They are not wrong, are they?..."


Excactly, Fio. And besides, the things we can read about in books, even these most unpleasant and uncomfortable, are nothing in comparison with atrocities that may be encountered and experienced in real life.


message 5: by Ilse (new)

Ilse Your bravery to look beyond the horizon and explore the behaviour of humankind in such extreme conditions is awe-inspiring, Agniezska - I enjoyed reading your fine analysis, but will cowardly restrain from this thanks to your closing warning of the faint-hearted ;).


message 6: by Agnieszka (new)

Agnieszka Ilse wrote: "Your bravery to look beyond the horizon and explore the behaviour of humankind in such extreme conditions is awe-inspiring, Agniezska - I enjoyed reading your fine analysis, but will cowardly restr..."

It's quite understandable, Ilse. Some of my friends disliked that reading wholeheartedly. Yes, the language is crude and all physiological aspects and brutality in excess but when I look at it as a whole I can't say it wasted my time. Though very likely it's not the novel to reread.


message 7: by Lucille (last edited Mar 24, 2018 09:31AM) (new)

Lucille Ag: “ Excactly, Fio. And besides, the things we can read about in books, even these most unpleasant and uncomfortable, are nothing in comparison with atrocities that may be encountered and experienced in real life.

EXACTLY! I haven’t even read this book yet, but I had a minor dustup with a GR dolt who referred to it in her review as “dick lit”: an ironically boorish attempt at humor which I found insulting to both men AND women. There are people who cringe at blood, guts, crudity, and brutality —- that’s a preference not a polemic. Personally, I draw the line at child & animal torture in fiction, as more often than not, it feels gratuitious to me.

Non-fiction is a different story. Right now I am working my way, haltingly, through Mao: The Unknown Story, a book which comparatively makes the story of the whaler read like a jaunt on “The Good Ship Lollipop.”

Again, I’m sure there are people who would rather read about fictional horror than actual.


message 8: by Agnieszka (last edited Mar 25, 2018 06:54AM) (new)

Agnieszka Thank you, Lucille. I think we all have our treshold of endurance both physical and emotional. I'm not a fan of brutality and gore in film and literature but if I find them wellgrounded I can deal with them. But nonfiction is quite different story. And reading the stuff you've mentioned or books on Holocaust or Tutsi and Hutu genocide make us really aware what it is true atrocity and brutality, and shows a scale of things a man has the capability to do.


message 9: by Seemita (new)

Seemita Oh my dear Agna! You are a braveheart, are you not? I suppose this shall remind me of the time I spent reading Blindness or The Plague, and I am, quite clearly, not in a mental state these days to absorb those unapologetic and merciless exposure of human degradation in a matter-of-fact way. But some day, yes. Your review, but, is a treat to read; I was almost in a trance going over the minute details you so aptly displayed in your quintessentially luminous manner.


message 10: by Agnieszka (new)

Agnieszka Seemita wrote: "Oh my dear Agna! You are a braveheart, are you not? I suppose this shall remind me of the time I spent reading Blindness or The Plague, and I am, quite clearly, not in a me..."

Thanks a lot, Simi. While I consider this one to be a good reading it is mostly adventurous novel with some thriller elements, though there is not too much mystery indeed, the bad guy is revealed on the first page already. Still in my opinion worth my time. The titles you've mentioned are focused more on existential aspects and moral implications. Especially The plague had an electrifying effect on me when I first read it.


message 11: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Kennedy It just feels right sometimes to be reminded of the underbelly of man. And a book is a safe place to it. Thanks for the introduction to the author and his words. Excellent review!


message 12: by Agnieszka (new)

Agnieszka Cheryl wrote: "It just feels right sometimes to be reminded of the underbelly of man. And a book is a safe place to it. Thanks for the introduction to the author and his words. Excellent review!"

You're very welcome, Cheryl. Glad you enjoyed the review. Of course I agree with you, the world would be a better and safer place if we could meet bad things only in books.


message 13: by Erwin (new)

Erwin Great review! Can’t wait to read this now!


message 14: by Agnieszka (new)

Agnieszka Erwin wrote: "Great review! Can’t wait to read this now!"

Many thanks, Erwin. Haven't seen you for ages and so glad to hear from you:) Hope everything is fine at your end and of course will be curious what you make of The North Water.


message 15: by Issicratea (new)

Issicratea Enjoyed this review, Agnieszka. Your reaction to this novel was quite similar to mine—gruesome, yes, but with strong literary redeeming features.


message 16: by Agnieszka (new)

Agnieszka Issicratea wrote: "Enjoyed this review, Agnieszka. Your reaction to this novel was quite similar to mine—gruesome, yes, but with strong literary redeeming features."

Thanks a lot, Issy. I too highly enjoyed your take on it. Glad we are on the same page with this reading.


message 17: by Erwin (new)

Erwin Agnieszka wrote: "Erwin wrote: "Great review! Can’t wait to read this now!"

Many thanks, Erwin. Haven't seen you for ages and so glad to hear from you:) Hope everything is fine at your end and of course will be cur..."


Thanks Agnieszka. I have been through some hard times but am recovering. :) Never stopped reading though. Or visiting GR, just not very active. I’ll let you know what I think of The North Water, as soon I will have finished it.


message 18: by Ted (new)

Ted It’s a bit like one of McCarthy’s characters enlisted on that whaler. Both authors seem to think of ruthlessness and cruelty to be immanent attribute of human nature…

Actually it seems to me that the vast majority of people I know are not like this. One never knows what a person (even oneself) will do in the direst of circumstances. But to call such action "immanent" does not seem to me to be stating things accurately.

I've never been tempted to read McCarthy. From what I know about him he has a death obsession. He also doesn't seem to get along with people, at least wives, very well at all.


message 19: by Agnieszka (last edited Apr 03, 2018 12:16PM) (new)

Agnieszka Ted wrote: "It’s a bit like one of McCarthy’s characters enlisted on that whaler. Both authors seem to think of ruthlessness and cruelty to be immanent attribute of human nature…

Actually it seems to me that ..."


Thanks for your comment, Ted. I know nothing from personal life of McCarthy so can't say anything in that matter. But as to his writing... well, I've read four or five his novels and was not disappointed yet. His Border trylogy was great and Blood meridian I consider magnificent novel though honestly I'm not sure if I will be rereading it in nearest future if ever. Definitely agree with your statement about what man would do or wouldn't in specific situation. People very lightly use that phrase on your place I wouldn't do that or if I were you I would do this or that. How should you know, I'm asking then. Fortunately in real life I too was saved from knowing such individuals like protagonist of this novel or McCarthy's judge Holden.


message 20: by Lara (new)

Lara Maynard I’ve not read this one yet, but would happily frame the cover. It brings to mind some of my favourite of Canadian artist David Blackwood’s paintings every time l see it.


message 21: by Cheri (new)

Cheri I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this, Agnieszka, I find myself debating this one. It sounds as if it was worth whatever gruesome aspects there may be. Contemplating.


message 22: by Agnieszka (new)

Agnieszka Lara wrote: "I’ve not read this one yet, but would happily frame the cover. It brings to mind some of my favourite of Canadian artist David Blackwood’s paintings every time l see it."

Thanks, Lara, for mentioning Blackwood here. I've just looked at some of his paintings. Really good.


message 23: by Agnieszka (new)

Agnieszka Cheri wrote: "I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this, Agnieszka, I find myself debating this one. It sounds as if it was worth whatever gruesome aspects there may be. Contemplating."

Thanks a lot, Cheri. I know the novel was received with mixed feelings by readers but I thought it was really interesting reading and definitely worth my time. Will be curious if/when you embark yourself on that whaler and your impessions from that voyage.


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