mark monday's Reviews > The North Water

The North Water by Ian McGuire
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did not like it
bookshelves: blood-and-danger, into-the-past, all-fucked-up, mnemonic-devices, world-of-insects

synopsis:
grueling misadventures on a 19th century whaling ship.

well I suppose I have to admire how sustained the effort is. Ian McGuire is relentlessly focused on the visceral, that's for certain "...they drip not blood, as usual, but some foul straw-colored coagulation like the unspeakable rectal oozings of a human corpse..." yeah that phrase pretty much sums up the novel. the author wants to repel the reader. very little depth and zero resonance but a whole lot of brutality, atrocity, and scenes that revel in human and animal suffering. plus a wish fulfillment ending that felt tailor-made for an eventual movie adaptation. it all felt so cheap and small.

characterization is flat; protagonist is uninteresting and his supposedly tragic backstory is rote; prose is proficient and vivid but also somehow monotonous. I expected either a grim psychological study or a stark conflict between flawed humanity and fathomless evil, however this dank and shallow novel is neither. I hoped for at least a wee bit of The Terror's absorbing atmosphere and deep characterization, or a sliver of its transcendence. none of those things were to be found. the book was written by an adult but has a very juvenile desire to disgust and appall. I think it is easy to show how dark things can be but I need to feel like the author is trying to say more than "things can get really fucking dark." and if you can't reach for meaning, at least try to entertain rather than punish me. overall this was highly unpleasant to read and ended up feeling like a real waste of time.

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Reading Progress

January 1, 2017 – Shelved
January 1, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
February 18, 2017 – Started Reading
March 1, 2017 – Shelved as: blood-and-danger
March 1, 2017 – Shelved as: into-the-past
March 1, 2017 – Finished Reading
March 13, 2017 – Shelved as: all-fucked-up
December 16, 2018 – Shelved as: mnemonic-devices
December 16, 2018 – Shelved as: world-of-insects

Comments Showing 1-32 of 32 (32 new)

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message 1: by ChopinFC (new)

ChopinFC Sounds like the book is a disaster.. I'll pass bro!


message 2: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday for me, definitely. but it is a well-regarded book. a lot of people loved it so who knows, you might too.


message 3: by Karina (new)

Karina I'm going to postpone my lunch now.


message 4: by Jeremy (new) - added it

Jeremy I abandoned it and don't get the love either. The prose is occasionally rich and vivid, but that isn't enough.


message 5: by Matthias (new) - added it

Matthias Razorsharp review. Love how you sliced up this book so effectively.


message 7: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday Karina wrote: "I'm going to postpone my lunch now."

I'm sensing "unspeakable rectal oozings" may be the cause. my apologies. but please don't forget to eat, lunch is important!


message 8: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday Jeremy wrote: "I abandoned it and don't get the love either. The prose is occasionally rich and vivid, but that isn't enough."

yeah, the writing is definitely... mixed. he's obviously a talent, without a doubt. he just as obviously over-indulged himself here with his monotonous focus on repelling the reader.


message 9: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday Matthias wrote: "Razorsharp review. Love how you sliced up this book so effectively."

thank you Matthias!


message 10: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday Ɗắɳ 2.✽ wrote: ""

in so many ways.

I just tried to find my own Big Lebowski image that I thought had somewhere (it says "We all have opinions") so I could post it on your review thread! but alas I came up empty.


message 11: by Laura (new)

Laura Mark it sometimes feels like you are reading my mind. Again, this book has been on my to read list for a couple of months based on my love of The Terror (I am chasing the joy it brought me). I am so glad you are doing the hard work for me! I believe this book was long listed for the Man Booker Prize. Your reviews are certainly saving me vast amounts of time. Cheers.


message 12: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday happy to oblige! I was pretty surprised to find out this was on the Man Booker list.


message 13: by Anthony (last edited Mar 11, 2017 02:47PM) (new)

Anthony Vacca "things can get really fucking dark":https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0nmH...


message 14: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday Anthony, I think you should read this. it goes without saying that it completely lacks the poetry of Cohen, but it does seem right up your alley.


Billy White lol


message 16: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday Indeed!


William2 Narrative pleasure is relative. I love the book. You don't. I get it. Excellent review though. Thank you.


message 18: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday indeed it is. glad you enjoyed the book. and thanks!


message 19: by Sara (new) - added it

Sara The gruesome scenes really overtake the story.


message 20: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday they really, really do.


message 21: by Jessaka (new)

Jessaka Excellent review. I got as far as a rspe dcene snd stopped. W
He is great with words but...


message 22: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday yeah I think that was even in the first chapter! well I suppose it provided a good service in warning the reader just where the novel was willing to go. once you describe a child rape/murder, all bets are off I guess.


message 23: by Jessaka (new)

Jessaka At least you were able to read my typing mistakes. One finger kindle typing isnt easy. Thanks for the friending.


message 24: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday :)


Calico Very comforted by this excellent review as I was wondering if I'd missed something - so many people seemed to love this book. To me it honestly feels like the author based the entire plot around whatever would let him describe the most bodily fluids.


message 26: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday yeah this book was very ugh. no accounting for different people's tastes, I guess.


El Rincón Lector de Manu Honestly I dont believe you even read the book. I doubt someone that actually did speaks so much crap. The book must be the most underrated of 2017 and for me the best read in years but is always good to have such different opinions.
Characters flat? Juvenile? Yeah no wonder you did not read the book sorry.


message 28: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday El Rincón Lector de Manu wrote: "Honestly I dont believe you even read the book. I doubt someone that actually did speaks so much crap. The book must be the most underrated of 2017 and for me the best read in years but is always good to have such different opinions.
Characters flat? Juvenile? Yeah no wonder you did not read the book sorry...."


to you and all such lackwits and keyboard warriors:

before you accuse someone of speaking "so much crap", I strongly suggest that you take a good long look at what spews from your own keyboard - and perhaps what comes out of your own mouth on a regular basis. public hypocrisy is never a good look. have a good day, "Youtube Reviewer" (lol)!


message 29: by Anthony (last edited Jul 06, 2018 01:26PM) (new)

Anthony Vacca I like you even when you don't like what I like.


message 30: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday same! vive la différence!


message 31: by Louv (new) - rated it 2 stars

Louv Totally agree with you. I loved We, the drowned and was looking for other books about sailors' lives. Was really disappointed by how trashy this was, and oh, the unnecessary gory metaphores...


message 32: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday I wonder if the film rights have been sold yet (he says with a sneer)

Agreed with your review as well, and I'm going to look into We, the drowned!


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