Edan's Reviews > The Singer's Gun

The Singer's Gun by Emily St. John Mandel
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's review
Jul 27, 2010

really liked it
Recommended to Edan by: Patrick Brown
Recommended for: Laura Leaney, Mike Reynolds, people who liked Dan Chaon's Await Your Reply

I really enjoyed this book! The prose is slick and clear as glass, and I loved the non-linear, mosaic-like structure, and the way Mandel presented a character's memories with a simple phrase, word or name, followed by a colon, and then a description of such phrase, word or person. It was so elegant, even sexy. Lots of sexiness in this book, guys: naked girls, singers with guns, recording devices, criminal families, Italian islands and payphones, cats eating tuna in airport bathrooms...

At first, I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the novel, as its premise felt a touch absurd/whimsical for my taste. Its main character, after all, is sent to wait out his work days in the 'dead files' room of the building's basement, and he just lives with it. But as the story gathered history and weight, I got really invested in the world and found it believable, if a little technicolored and poetic. And, in the end, I loved these qualities of the book, as it made everything feel heightened and lovely and deep in the way our lives often aren't in their quotidian accuracy.

Sometimes, the book emphasized too much its themes, namely: work, feeling lost, disappearing. But I also enjoyed these themes, so I'm not sure how they might otherwise be handled. And perhaps this tight-grip on the deeper subject is a byproduct of the taut quality of the storytelling, which was really appealing. Seriously, I could not put this book down. And it was beautifully written to boot!

My only real complaint with this book are its double prepositions. They drove me crazy! "She turned to him and pulled her nightgown off over her head" (84) would be so much graceful as, "She turned to him and pulled her nightgown over her head" And "Elena began walking forward across the room..." (202) would be sleeker as "Elena began walking across the room" and "Climbed up onto the breakwater rocks" (225) could be, "Climbed onto the breakwater rocks..." These double prepositions were all over the text, and my neurotic language-reader winced at each one. I am sure Mandel's next book, sans all the unnecessary prepositions, will be a masterpiece!

Emily St. John Mandel is such a talent. Read this book and get pulled into this mysterious sexy bright dark world!
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Judy Thanks for this perfect review. I have the book on my shelf and now it goes on this week's reading list!

Edan Thanks, Judy. I hope you enjoy the book!

Judy I did!!

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