karen's Reviews > Nothing

Nothing by Janne Teller
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's review
Apr 18, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: creepy-children, favorites, why-yes-i-ya, thanks-for-prezzies
Recommended to karen by: ariel

the beginning part of this book reminded me of my very favorite part in john gardner's grendel, where two characters are ass-kickingly fighting,but also having a philosophical debate at the same time. this starts out like that, only with less howling. this is teen fiction, so the weapons being pelted are plums, and everyone gets to keep their arms (for now), but that doesn't mean this is sweet valley high: there will be blood and sacrifice and deep dark nihilism in these 13-year-olds before we are through.

this is my favorite type of story, where kids revert to savagery when they are put into an isolating situation. in this case, it is emotional isolation rather than physical, lord of the flies style, but it is serious.

quick plot summary tho i hate to do it: 7th grade class, one kid "realizes" that nothing means anything and so climbs a tree and stays there for months, shouting his newfound beliefs and infuriating the rest of the kids in his class. they decide to prove to him that life has meaning. they begin to accumulate a "pile of meaning", willingly giving up what matters to them in order to prove him wrong, because he is starting to get into their heads and cause doubt. but who wants to give up the thing that matters most to them, at thirteen? and what kid is going to allow his classmate to cheat and give up something lesser, while hoarding their treasures? so they begin choosing for each other, forcing others to give up increasingly meaningful parts of themselves. and now it's a party, and it's going to get messy.

most authors would stop here - deliver a little cautionary allegory all tidied up. but there is a little more to it here. a little more of the dark.

ariel has recommended a tremendous book to me, and now i pass it along to you.

for fun, google image "pile of meaning" with your kiddie filters turned off. oh, my...
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 50) (50 new)

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message 1: by Courtney (new)

Courtney I thought i was going to see a pile of dogshit or something. lol. I stayed up last night watching Dexter so go figure. :P

message 2: by Greg (last edited Apr 18, 2010 09:26PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg Hmmm, I want to read this now, even though I've been off of teen/ya books for so long.

And I am scandalized by the google images returned.

karen what, it's just a stack of boxes...

you can borrow it (the book) from me if you want. it won't take you long to read,i guarantee.

karen ariel (or anyone), what do you know about the other books by this author??

message 5: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 19, 2010 09:45AM) (new)

i know nothing except we didn't publish them. i'm intrigued.

this may have been the first one that was translated into english, i'm not sure.

message 6: by Jen (last edited Apr 19, 2010 02:39PM) (new) - added it

Jen This sounds good. In junior high I read a story about some kids kidnapping their teacher and taking him away to the woods. They discuss how they never realized they had so much power- that their numbers could easily overtake a professor. And then something bad happens to the teacher. I wish I could remember the title...it had a cheesy cover and was badly written, kind of like an older Scooby Doo Saturday Special program.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Jen, was it Killing Mr. Griffin?

karen lois duncan, woot woot!!

she represents half of my reading habits when i was 13.

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

i just took a look at all the books she wrote, and dont think i ever read a single one. a LOT of my preteen and early teen years were spent in the teen mass market section of the library, though, because i HAD to read everything ever written by christopher pike, so i immediately recalled the back cover summary.

karen i read all the christopher pike, too, but lois duncan was always my fave. down a dark hall or summer of fear - so awesome.

also that christina trilogy - i forget who it is by - hang on.

message 12: by Jasmine (new) - added it

Jasmine I read Caroline Cooney and Robert Cormier, lois Duncan looks like she would have been my thing too bad I missed it.

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

wow i would have freaking loved that trilogy.

karen it is never too late. put down that deleuze.

message 15: by Jasmine (new) - added it

Jasmine ah but it is too late, I am too elitist now.

message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

yeah, i should probably put proust back on hold so i can read caroline b cooney.

karen just go back and forth.

proust can be for summer, when i will be reading him, too.

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

i have to catch up! you're already on book three.

plus, i dont know, i get these ideas in my head, like, "read proust," and i have to do it immediately. so here we are.

karen okay - cooney can wait.

she can be your light-reading reward.

message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

thank you kindly.

message 21: by Jen (new) - added it

Jen I think that might have been it, karen! You are magic in so many ways. But the cover is missing the cheese now.

I also read one (totally off track now) about a woman who pastes different historical faces onto a robot and then scrumps her way through history with Mr. Roboto. Any ideas what that was, besides demented? You are my book genie.

karen i am magic, but that time it was ariel's magic shining through.

i have no idea about that robot one - ariel is going to have to save the day again, there. she is my new go-to source for recommending and figuring out y/a titles.

message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

i am stumped!

message 24: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 20, 2010 12:55PM) (new)

That's like in The Princess Bride when The Man in Black and Inigo Montoya are having a philosophical discussion while they're sword fighting.

karen people sure can compartmentalize...

i can do one thing at one time and that is all.

message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

And I've learned from experience that you shouldn't put down the Proust because you might never pick it up, again.

message 27: by David (new)

David So what it was is {non sequitur} that I am surreptitiously drunk {but only fractionally} and was looking for a thread to say this/that/the-other to you where there weren't many others to overread it, but there are always others there, in corners, vestibules, hyperbaric chambers -- talking about what(?), I don't even know. Something about dogshit and woot and Proust and Styx (not the river) but who can say how they fit together... not me, not now. Reading gets bumpy and gummed-up like this. I will say hi and mean it and thank you for Carol B., who makes of my heart a warm thing like pop-n-fresh biscuits. Are those real things? And I haven't got my poem, and I haven't got my.


message 28: by karen (last edited Apr 20, 2010 08:22PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

karen oh, david.

[image error]

message 29: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 22, 2010 06:40AM) (new)

Janne Teller is doing a bunch of events at PEN. http://www.pen.org/search.php/prmAuth...
I'm thinking of going to the April 29th panel.

message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Wait. I'm not sure that link had the information I wanted it to.

Thursday, April 29
7 – 8:30 p.m. A Gathering of Voices
Participants: David Almond, Francisco X. Stork, Janne Teller, and Ed Young
Distinguished children’s book authors David Almond, Francisco X. Stork, Janne Teller, and Ed Young come together to talk about their work and its sources. Each of them is rooted in and has found inspiration from a specific culture—in England , Mexico , Holland , and China . How do their roots influence how these writers speak to children? Which subjects seem right? How have influences from other cultures affected them, and in what ways do they approach universal themes—and taboos? This lively panel will be moderated by Elizabeth Bird, author and Senior Children’s Librarian with New York Public Library’s Children’s Center at 42nd Street .

Friday, April 30
10 – 12:00 noon Face Off! Overcoming Barriers
Participants: David Almond, Alina Bronsky, Janne Teller, and Tommy Wieringa

It is often said that it is not the life that matters, but the courage one brings to it. Four acclaimed authors from the U.K. , Germany , Denmark , and the Netherlands , respectively, discuss how the characters in their books summon the courage to overcome obstacles and live the kind of life they aspire to. Do writers get a kind of freedom, a way to problem solve issues from their own lives and even an opportunity to test their own mettle through their characters? Matt De La Peña asks our guests to share how their characters face down obstacles, both internal
and external, and what their work means to their own lives.

Sunday, May 2
5 – 6:30 p.m. Black Sheep & Exploding Turbans
Participants: Alina Bronsky, Janne Teller, Peter Stamm, and Josef Winkler
Moderated by Jamal Mahjoub

The violent reaction to the publication in Denmark four years ago of a series of satirical cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed suggests that the cultural divisions highlighted by The Satanic Verses controversy twenty years ago have intensified rather than dissipated. Europe is currently facing what some call its biggest challenge - trying to come to terms with its Muslim minority. Across the continent debates over the veil, the burka, and more recently, the Swiss referendum banning the building of minarets have prompted passionate, often violent responses. What are the consequences of this for Europe and for literature in a society that appears to be segregating along sectarian and racial lines, and where intolerance is increasing on both sides of the divide?

karen well, that is the one that promises to be "lively," so good choice!

message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

i hope she speaks english. otherwise it could be kind of a bummer. still lively, but less fun.

karen ooh, yeah - awkward...

message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

i went to the panel tonight. janne teller was fantastic. incredibly interesting and totally original thoughts. i love how her mind works.

anyway, she quickly described one of her adult books as about "a man who is in love with a woman who married, so he decides to murder his emotions."

just wanted to follow up on your question regarding her other books! i'm interested in her fantasy novel, odin's island, as well.

karen man, who even investigates that type of murder??

but i would love to read more - so glad you got to go to that!

me, i got to go to class and discuss christian/gentle fiction.

message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

i'm so glad i went. i fell in love with illustrator ed young. he completely charmed me.

david almond was there, too, which i mention because i see you read the book skellig, although weren't entirely impressed. i haven't read anything him but he was amusing and likable enough.

ed young and janne teller really blew me away, though.

message 37: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg do they really call it gentle fiction?

you should bring me this book on Sunday!

message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

is a christian book necessarily gentle? and vice versa?

karen no, there is secular gentle fiction.

i think john hassler is, but i don;t know for sure.

but there are all those cozy mysteries and such.

mmmmm gentle.

message 40: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg how can a book with murder in it be considered gentle?

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Holy Zoroaster, that's hilarious!

karen too bad i just mailed you a package, or i would have slipped this in.

go ahead.

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio No homo.

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (gotta switch it up)

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio ^twss^

message 47: by peyton skoures (new)

peyton skoures I totes want to read

message 48: by Tuck (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tuck if all ya fiction was like this, it would be more than just a place holder till readers move on to better fiction. thanks ariel for this recce way back when. best ya i've read anyway (not saying much there) nice review here too

karen yes!

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