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The Grief Hole
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Monthly Reads > The Grief Hole by Kaaron Warren

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Randolph (us227381) | 2 comments Discussion thread for June 2017 read The Grief Hole by Kaaron Warren. Unfortunately this book was released by Smashwords...

message 2: by Dan (last edited May 30, 2017 05:43PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan | 329 comments My copy just arrived in book form, thank you Amazon and USPS. The publisher is IFWG Publishing Australia, headquartered in Melbourne. Glancing through it I see a lot of white space and a few not very noteworthy black and white illustrations. However, the novel is 321 pages long, so I'm not worried about being shortchanged in terms of novel length.

I notice (with some surprise) from blurb hype that Warren has almost 200 pieces of "short fiction" published, but that this is only her fourth novel. So I checked on ISFDB and see I was right to be skeptical. They list only 83 published short stories, a still very impressive number, but not "close to 200."

She is the winner of a number of awards for her fiction:
1) Shirley Jackson
2) Aurealis
3) Ditmar
4) Australian Shadows
5) ACT Writers and Publishers Award

This book looks promising.

Randolph (us227381) | 2 comments Thanks for the background info Dan.

message 4: by Marie-Therese (last edited May 30, 2017 09:50PM) (new)

Marie-Therese (mariethrse) | 550 comments I like ebooks so I'll get this book in that form (I have both a mobi type reader and one that prefers epubs, so I'm good either way).

Warren looks like a really interesting author so thank you for suggesting her, Dan.

Randolph (us227381) | 2 comments I'm not really digging this so far. A little over halfway and things seem to be dragging badly, at least for me. Some of the characters aren't working for me, Prudence, Andy, Tim, Sol and the whole Paradise Falls thing.

The idea of Grief as an energy is intriguing and starts well but I get the feeling that the author doesn't know where to go with it.

Randolph (us227381) | 2 comments I want to do an anthology or collection for July. Gimme some ideas.

Randolph (us227381) | 2 comments Oh, Warren's characters have the same feel of unrealism as Philip Dick's characters always did for me.

Randolph (us227381) | 2 comments I like the illustrations. Abstract but appropriate.

message 9: by Dan (last edited Jun 18, 2017 03:38AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan | 329 comments I liked the interventions section a lot. After that I agree. The book took a sharp turn into slowdown. It's almost as if two different books are being jammed together.

I read the first 89 pages, then discovered I hadn't been paying attention well for the last 30 or so. I then reread it all and am up to page 97 now.

There's much I like about this novel. I would describe it as literary horror. Warren demands much of her readers in that she doesn't spell everything out. Her style is consistent and her characters are engaging. I like Theresa, Scott, and Prudence. I think there's a lot more to Prudence than has so far been revealed. I'm wondering if she's entirely real for one thing.

The concepts Warren is introducing are for me wholly original. I like that an entire family, well the female members anyway, seem to have these powers I've never seen others have in other books. However, rather than understand and aid each other, they mostly don't get along, and certainly don't help each other. Even mothers and daughters here have dysfunctional relationships. Those are usually strong bonds one normally assumes.

Randolph (us227381) | 2 comments I, like you Dan, was fascinated and captured by the intervention section up front. The section after the, well you know what, where she goes to her uncle's house was fine as well. I like her exploring the whole concept of grief from all angles including the "haunting" aspect of it but the book just starts to meander, lacking any forward progression.

Most of the characters, Prudence, Lynda, Scott, Sol, serve as icons for a particular type of grief, suffering, and sometimes healing, but anchoring the novel in the real world just makes these characters seem unreal. They remind me of Philip K. Dick characters. He had a similar problem in that his characters generally symbolized a philosophy and weren't always very realistic. That's why his fiction largely works in a science fiction setting but his non-science fiction novels struggle.

Sol is a classic Dickian character. In fact the entire novel has a Dick feel.

I'm struggling but trying to keep an open mind.

Randolph (us227381) | 2 comments Any other feelings about the book, I'm pretty sure my opinions are not sacrosanct, they may even be terribly wrong?

message 12: by Dan (last edited Jun 23, 2017 06:00AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan | 329 comments I just finished the book and am giving it four stars rounding up from three and some fraction. I agree with most of your analysis above, especially the insightful comparison to a Dick novel. I also agree and was somewhat put off by the meandering plot, especially the parties, the time spent discussing the stamp collecting business, the unresolved Prudence subplot, the family relationships and who saved Theresa from drowning and why does she have a dysfunctional relationship with her mother thing that never really ended up going anywhere. The heart of the story ended up being the Sol Evictus relationship with Theresa and his henchmen and the visits to The Grief Hole. The problem is this main plot is less interesting to me than the meandering subplots mentioned above that Warren left unresolved.

I did not pick up on the characters being representations of a certain type of grief. They live, breathe, and work as characters for me. I'm still confused about Prudence though. It felt like maybe in an earlier draft Warren wrote her as an imaginary character in Theresa's head, maybe changed her mind in later drafts, but failed to make all the changes necessary in her text to make Prudence a real person to all the novel's characters. The end result is that she's a real enigma for me, a problem character. Where does she live? How does she support herself? Selling balloons? Really? I get that she sees "monsters", but what really is a "monster", if she calls Theresa one, and what does she do about it?

To say the novel raises questions it fails to answer is an understatement. Nevertheless, despite the weaknesses mentioned I give it four stars on the strength of its writing style, its good pace (never dawdling overly long on any one thing), its engaging characters, and the many original concepts.

My remaining problem is one of genre classification. Scott a long time ago mentioned he did not view the novel as horror, and I can see why, but what else can it be? Certainly not fiction. It has supernatural elements it takes seriously which places it in the realm of fantasy. Yet we never see a werewolf, vampire, zombie, fairy, Norse god, sword, or sorceress. The magic used is subtle, as subtle as that on Hallmark's The Good Witch series, never overt. I guess only horror is left, although the book is not all that horrifying, certainly less so than Harvest Home, which we were having problems calling horror due to its lack of scariness.

I'm glad we read The Grief Hole. I've never before read anything quite like it.

Well, I'm on to reading Lonely Werewolf Girl for the werewolf group I lead. (Shameless plug.) The book is over 500 pages long though to my great surprise. How can a werewolf story be long? That's just crazy! Stephen King had to bring in an illustrator and put in lots of white on his pages to get his werewolf story to almost 100 pages, and King is not known for brevity. After that I'll read our group's pick of the month.

Randolph (us227381) | 2 comments I'm sorry but I just hated this book. It's the first group book I can really say that about. I apologize for letting it through and also to those who I offend because they believe I am dead wrong.

message 14: by Dan (last edited Dec 12, 2017 10:31AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan | 329 comments The Grief Hole won the Canberra Critics Award, the Aurealis Award, the Ditmar Award, the Shadows Award and the ACT Writers and Publishers Award.

One professional review of the book states the following: 'The Grief Hole' by Kaaren Warren

"I had to take a break from this to return to my own obsession into why, when it comes to Evil, size matters. I knew from the first page that this novel would be in my top five reads of the year, but what I didn’t know is how insanely smart it was. And funny. For every vein she opens in this stark, unsentimental look at grief’s murky hungers through the eyes of a social worker who sees dead people, Warren has the guts to tickle your funny bone too, and that’s a tough act to pull off. I’m more than half way through now, and I’m still laughing, still crying."

Does anyone else remember the book having any humor whatsoever? Did I miss the joke(s)?

Randolph (us227381) | 2 comments Man, all I remember is huge disappointment. I definitely never laughed except at the thought it got published at all. What’s wrong with me? Did anyone get much out of this book? I’m serious. If anyone has another take on this I’d love to hear it.

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