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Sweet Lamb of Heaven
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2017 TOB -The Books > Sweet Lamb of Heaven

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Amy (asawatzky) | 1737 comments space to discuss Sweet Lamb of Heaven by Lydia Millet


Sarah (bazilli) | 7 comments I'm currently reading this one, and am really enjoying it. Definitely not what I thought it was going to be!


AmberBug com* | 444 comments I started this one this weekend. Definitely NOT what I was expecting but it's keeping my interest piqued. I'm finding it fun trying to figure out why she is hearing these voices. I'm guessing this is a perfect example of an unreliable narrator.


Sarah (bazilli) | 7 comments AmberBug wrote: "I started this one this weekend. Definitely NOT what I was expecting but it's keeping my interest piqued. I'm finding it fun trying to figure out why she is hearing these voices. I'm guessing this ..."

Oh yes, this book is textbook unreliable narrator.


Melanie Greene (dakimel) | 241 comments I found this nice and creepy in the kind of predictable ways (eerie voices, protecting child) and waaaaay weird when (spoilers about the ending & the way Millet resolves things) (view spoiler)

I thought the way Anna became increasingly isolated and had to figure out how to trust herself, and others, and convince us to trust her, was very well done.


message 6: by Ruthiella (last edited Feb 07, 2017 04:03PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ruthiella | 366 comments I wish I had liked Lamb of Heaven more. Unfortunately it is shaping up to be possibly my least favorite of the TOB shortlist (although I still have six more to read).

I think my biggest problem was that I didn’t buy into character’s motivations. And the woman in peril story line just didn’t mesh with the X-Files aspect for me; like neither went far enough for me to really invest in them. Which was too bad because I find the speculative aspects expressed in the book really fascinating.

I think what I liked best about the book was Anna’s relationship with Lena. That seemed very real to me. And the imagery of the isolated motel in Maine attracting all the likeminded “listeners” was really great.

Re: Melanie’s comment on the ending: (view spoiler)


message 7: by jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

jo | 429 comments (view spoiler)


Bryn (Plus Others) (brynplusplus) | 97 comments I didn't enjoy this one at all; I ended up skipping a lot of the middle of the book, which of course means I might have missed something amazing, but I was just finding it such a slog. The combination of (view spoiler)


Trish | 33 comments I can't figure out how to discuss this book with out spoilers: so (view spoiler) I think this book suffers due to not being any one thing; it's a (very slow moving) psychological thriller, it's apocyphal but not overtly, and it's classic good v evil fantasy.


message 10: by jo (last edited Feb 08, 2017 08:34PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

jo | 429 comments Trish wrote: "I can't figure out how to discuss this book with out spoilers: so [spoilers removed] I think this book suffers due to not being any one thing; it's a (very slow moving) psychological thriller, it's..."

i don't know if you've read other books by her, trish (i have read only one) but she does strange/experimental stuff, including strange/experimental writing. what confuses me in this one (i'm referring to the stuff you talk about in your comment, which i won't repeat for obvious reasons but you know what i'm talking about) is that she gets earnest. i think she's always being earnest, though teetering on the verge of surrealism/absurdism, about the erosion of the natural world, but is she really earnest here about (view spoiler) and i did like the book cuz i find her an exceptional writer!


Melanie Greene (dakimel) | 241 comments The writing itself - on a structural level, on creating a solid voice and dialogue I could believe in and much more - was definitely great. But I can't get past the feeling that she didn't have a strong enough point of view for the plot. Experimental doesn't need to be unclear.

And I didn't think she meant it to be so very open ended. I think a stronger point of view ("This is a story about a woman who is clinically disturbed and manipulated to think she isn't" or "This is an allegory about religion and politics" or whatever) could have led us to the kind of open-ended ending where we are jumping over each other to say "Oh wait! what if..." and digging back into the text for supporting phrases (like The Little Stranger did in several of my book-people conversations). But instead we have a few half-formed theories trying to figure out anything that's encompassing enough to ret-con a meaning to it all.


Ruthiella | 366 comments Melanie wrote: "could have led us to the kind of open-ended ending where we are jumping over each other to say "Oh wait! what if..." and digging back into the text for supporting phrases ."

I think I know what you mean about the "what if" aspect Melanie. I loved The Little Stranger because of that delicious ambiguity. Have you read Version Control yet? Because I think it offers that more successfully that Sweet Lamb of Heaven.


Michelle | 155 comments Ruthiella wrote: "Melanie wrote: "could have led us to the kind of open-ended ending where we are jumping over each other to say "Oh wait! what if..." and digging back into the text for supporting phrases ."

I thin..."


Ruthiella I felt the same way about Version Control. I was pleasantly surprised by that book, enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.


Sherri (sherribark) | 358 comments Wait, why are we hiding spoilers? I thought spoilers were allowed on the book threads.

I was not planning to like this book. In fact, it was on my list of books I wasn't planning to read. But it was available on audio, so I went ahead. I loved it. I was so drawn to the relationship Anna and Lena had, and felt it made Anna's choices relatable for me.

We've talked about Myers Briggs personality types and book tastes in this group before. As an ISTJ, the deeply intellectual and somewhat detached telling appealed to me. Anna's constant need to think rationally and stay level-headed in a completely irrational and uncontrollable environment stood out to me. Her unwillingness to accept insanity or mental illness as an explanation were an important part of the narrative.

Now, about the audio . . . Lydia Millet narrates the audio herself. At first I hated it. Her voice is not pretty, soothing, or likeable. But somehow it made me feel like I was in the hotel with the group, listening to Anna tell her story. It gave it an authenticity that might not have been there with a professional reader. It won't appeal to everyone, but I'm glad she chose to do it.


Kristel (kristelh) | 27 comments I liked the book but I had a few areas that I had troubles with. Definitely weird.


Melanie Greene (dakimel) | 241 comments Sherri wrote: "Wait, why are we hiding spoilers? I thought spoilers were allowed on the book threads.

I was not planning to like this book. In fact, it was on my list of books I wasn't planning to read. But it ..."


re: spoilers - I asked on the shortlist thread & was told that on the thread for The Nix (I think - one of the ones I haven't read, anyway), the message was to spoiler tag plot stuff even in these individual book threads.

re: Millet's narration of the audio. Oh, I disliked it! I'm not sure I'd have a different opinion about any of the things I spoiler tagged above if it had been a different narrator or I'd read the text version, but I prefer audiobooks to have that 'I am an experienced voice actor' feel to them. Not that I haven't heard some great self-narrated books (I will always relish Libba Bray's reading of Beauty Queens), but Millet didn't win any ground with me with her narration.

But I think your point about being in the room with her is an interesting one, and I'm happy to hear a different opinion than mine so I can remember to stop being so categorical and audiobook-narrator-snobby. :)


message 17: by Caroline (last edited Feb 13, 2017 06:01AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Caroline   | 150 comments I really liked this and enjoyed the author's narration (i listened to it slightly sped up so IDK if that helped). Also I didn't think there was anything really ambiguous about what was going on. (view spoiler)

I don't know, I read a lot of comic books with supernatural elements and I was reading this off and on with watching the first season of 'American Horror Story,' which has some similar elements, and so it was easy for me to read this fitting into a supernatural/horror genre without worrying too much about the mechanics.


message 18: by jo (last edited Feb 13, 2017 08:40AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

jo | 429 comments it seems to me that millet gives a proper (view spoiler) what do you think?


Ruthiella | 366 comments jo wrote: "it seems to me that millet gives a proper [spoilers removed] what do you think?"

I agree with your explanation Jo. I definitely got the theological vibe from the book.


Caroline   | 150 comments That is definitely an interpretation of what is happening but I think it's deliberately left incomplete and mysterious. I did have the vibe that Ned was (view spoiler)


message 21: by jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

jo | 429 comments Caroline wrote: "That is definitely an interpretation of what is happening but I think it's deliberately left incomplete and mysterious. I did have the vibe that Ned was [spoilers removed]"

yes, incomplete and mysterious cuz this is not a complete supernatural world, all worked out. and the claim is so preposterous anyway! i wonder if she is doing it straight or tongue in cheek. anyone else wonder?


Caroline   | 150 comments I feel like this is more aligned with horror, where 'scary thing is happening because evil' than fantasy, which relies more on a world-building logic. I definitely didn't see anything tongue in cheek about it.


message 23: by jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

jo | 429 comments Caroline wrote: "I feel like this is more aligned with horror, where 'scary thing is happening because evil' than fantasy, which relies more on a world-building logic. I definitely didn't see anything tongue in che..."

thank you for this valuable perspective.


Alison Hardtmann (ridgewaygirl) | 463 comments I just finished this and it was odd. I read Love in Infant Monkeys a while ago and at the time I didn't love it, but now I see that I clearly remember several of the stories in detail - which isn't the case with everything I read. Millet has sticking power for me. I liked this:

Maybe our gods are as small as we are or as large, varying with the size of our empathy. Maybe when a man's mind is small his god shrinks to fit.

I thought that this was, at heart, a deeply religious book, but not in a theological way, if that makes sense. I have some thinking to do, but I'm really eager to see what is written about it during the Tournament.


Sherri (sherribark) | 358 comments That was my favorite quote!


Melanie Greene (dakimel) | 241 comments Alison wrote: "I thought that this was, at heart, a deeply religious book, but not in a theological way, if that makes sense.."

This makes sense to me - and makes sense to me why it was at a bit of a remove for me, since I've got no religious/spiritual background to draw upon and let this resonate against.


AmberBug com* | 444 comments Same here Melanie... I thought I had been missing something... but maybe that's just it... no religious/spiritual part of self to relate to.


Caroline   | 150 comments I was honestly kind of 'lol whatever' re: the deep language stuff but I liked how the author used it aesthetically, if that makes any sense?


Alison Hardtmann (ridgewaygirl) | 463 comments I would be really interested in having a Version Control/Sweet Lamb of Heaven match-up, except that won't happen unless they vie for the top spot, which isn't going to happen.


message 30: by jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

jo | 429 comments Caroline wrote: "I was honestly kind of 'lol whatever' re: the deep language stuff but I liked how the author used it aesthetically, if that makes any sense?

first of all, this conversation really makes sense, and accounts for my puzzled and lukewarm feelings about this book, in spite of the fact that lydia millet is absolutely phenomenal and the book is written top to bottom with a never-abating tension. i, too, don't resonate with all-encompassing spirituality.

i was going to take the conversation to other aspects of the book, but your question is excellent caroline, so let's talk about this shall we. :)

millet clearly (?) doesn't go for transcendent language. rather, it seems to me, she goes for evidence. she brings up whales and trees and birds. and children. she also goes a bit po-mo with the dotting of factoids here and there in the narrative, whether they have something to do with what is being said or not.

that's a bit what she does, though, no? i mean, in general? how she writes? she seems to me more an intellectual than a poet. she makes cases.

i wonder if you guys have read A Tale for the Time Being, which anchors itself pretty solidly in buddhism and is not therefore experimental the way this book is. Ruth Ozeki is a lyrical author, and doesn't go about her religion rationally and methodically, but maybe these two have something in common.


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

Ryan Fields | 77 comments I found myself caring much more about Ozeki's characters. I have SLofH at the bottom of my rankings, just below (as of yet unfinished) Black Wave. I will blame some of this on the narrator (one of 3 I've done on audio), who seemed very nonchalant in her delivery.


message 32: by Caroline (last edited Feb 14, 2017 07:27PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Caroline   | 150 comments Ha ha, I can tell this is one I am going to get more defensive of as I go on but it'll be like 'I don't knooooow, I just liiiiiked it!'

Also it's against my zombie pick, "Homegoing," so I would be pretty happy if it won even though I don't want Homegoing to lose!

Strategery.


Gayla Bassham (sophronisba) | 156 comments I didn't really care for this one -- I thought it had a strong start but I became impatient with Anna as the book went on and I would have preferred a more ambiguous ending.

The book did not make me think of the current First Family but rather Ned reminded me forcibly of Ted Cruz.


message 34: by Beth (new) - rated it 4 stars

Beth Dean (readremark) | 29 comments I'm in the middle of the book and really liking it. Already feeling dread though - I'll bet I won't be happy with how it all ends.


Caroline   | 150 comments Ted Cruz is not that handsome.


Gayla Bassham (sophronisba) | 156 comments No, it wasn't his looks but the weird vibe he had with his wife and daughters that made me think of Cruz.


Caroline   | 150 comments Hah, yeah, I figured, I just wanted to diss Ted Cruz.


message 38: by jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

jo | 429 comments oh, if we really want to make RL comparisons, i have another few candidates in mind.... ;)


message 39: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan (janrowell) | 1099 comments jo wrote: "oh, if we really want to make RL comparisons, i have another few candidates in mind.... ;)"

Haha, go for it!

And can I just say how much I love this thread? I hate to fangirl and I know it's the TOB so I shouldn't be surprised,, but sheesh, you guys are smart and funny.

Also A Tale for the Time Being: yes!!!


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 642 comments Well, I tried it in audio (because Hoopla had it), and my initial impulse was to skip it. I got through just over half of this book and was just as uninterested in what was going on at that point as I was at the beginning, maybe more, as I didn't have any interest in the "reasons" starting to be revealed. I think the next time the author should consider letting someone else read the audio, because it just never had a sense of urgency or fear or excitement even though the events being described made it feel there should be.


Mindy Jones (mindyrecycles) | 71 comments LOL at Caroline.


Caroline   | 150 comments Paul Ryan.


message 43: by jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

jo | 429 comments maybe y'all can help ignorant me. the commentary here is dying down cuz we are all getting ready to use our smarts to advantage on the proper commentariat, right?

and the proper commentariat will happen on the official MN site for ToB?

(bonus points: do you also find hard to write reviews of books you have discussed in the threads set up here?)

THANK YOU!


Caroline   | 150 comments Yeah, the tournament proper starts on Wednesday. . .you need a Disqus login to comment + it's pretty easy (though it can get voluminous and fast...)

I think the 3 book playin will be on the first day.


message 45: by jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

jo | 429 comments thank you caroline.


Melanie Greene (dakimel) | 241 comments Jenny (Reading Envy) wrote: "Well, I tried it in audio (because Hoopla had it), and my initial impulse was to skip it. I got through just over half of this book and was just as uninterested in what was going on at that point a..."

I tried hard not to let Millet's uninspired narration influence my opinion of the book. And I agree some pieces of it were eerily incisive (the Ted Cruz-ness of it all) (he's my senator; happy to claim some mind control as part of the reason my state seems to love him because otherwise I've got to get even grumpier with some IRL people)
But overall I couldn't grab ahold of the through lines in any way that meant anything fun or engaging as a reading experience.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 642 comments Melanie wrote: "Jenny (Reading Envy) wrote: "Well, I tried it in audio (because Hoopla had it), and my initial impulse was to skip it. I got through just over half of this book and was just as uninterested in what..."

I think this "But overall I couldn't grab ahold of the through lines in any way that meant anything fun or engaging as a reading experience" is me too. Perhaps the same ideas in the hands of a different writer would have had a different effect.

This is off topic but one of the funniest Ted Cruz things of all time, it's bad lip reading
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v75wC...


Sherri (sherribark) | 358 comments Part of me really wants to defend this book, but the other part of me won't put the energy into it since it's going up against my Rooster pick. So I'll just say:
-I'm glad I read it (or listened to it)
-I enjoyed it more than I expected
-I'll read this author again
-Goodbye in round one :).


message 49: by Drew (new) - rated it 3 stars

Drew (drewlynn) | 425 comments Sherri wrote: "Part of me really wants to defend this book, but the other part of me won't put the energy into it since it's going up against my Rooster pick. So I'll just say:
-I'm glad I read it (or listened to..."


I'm in total agreement with you, Sherri. It was engrossing enough to get me over the mountains to Tacoma and back but I wasn't completely won over by it. I have a different bar for car-trip audio books, not necessarily lower but different. I'm not sure how I would have reacted if I'd read it.


Deborah (brandiec) | 113 comments Towards the end of today's Commentariat, someone started a thread for people to list their favorites of the TOB and their choice for winner. I found it interesting how many people listed Sweet Lamb of Heaven as their "anti-fave."


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