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The Water Cure
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Booker Prize for Fiction > 2018 Booker Longlist The Water Cure

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Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
The Water Cure, by Sophie Mackintosh

Neil | 1867 comments I'm keen to hear what others think of this. I was disappointed. I found it to be rather predictable and it had at least two characters who never did anything and I didn't know why they were there.

But, as with other books I don't like, I am always happy to be shown where I have misread something.

Alysson Oliveira | 82 comments I liked it, but not as much as I expected. It was a quick read that didn't leave me with a strong impression. I read it about a month ago, and don't remember much. There were beautiful moments, and I think the general idea for the novel is better than the actual thing.

Tommi | 490 comments Just finished this, and I found it deeply flawed. I don’t see myself giving it more than 2 stars when I review it properly, as much as I wanted to like it.

I really don’t like it when a book palpably feels like it’s turning feminism into capitalism, making mere entertainment of the urgent issues that The Handmaid’s Tale addressed outstandingly over 30 years ago. I don’t see the depth in this novel; what I see is cardboard male characters ticking certain boxes, plenty of violence, and melodrama.

Perhaps my strong reaction has something to do with the fact that we have The Water Cure on the longlist instead of an excellent novel dealing with feminism such as The Female Persuasion. Perhaps I’m too sharp in my judgment because I’m reading with the Booker lens. Perhaps I’m not the ideal reader for a dystopia. I’ll give it a day or two, and maybe then I have something more objective to say. (There are good things in the novel, too.)

Tommi | 490 comments Oh and I would be interested to know what native speakers think of the dialogue of the male characters here. I think it’s often one of the toughest things for me to evaluate as a non-native, but here I found the way they talked often unrealistic. Would be interesting to hear your thoughts.

Neil | 1867 comments I read this quite a long time ago (NetGalley) and I don’t have a copy any longer, but my recollection is that the male characters were not very credible but also very predictable. If I remember correctly, there is no reason why one of them is even there!

I was not impressed by this book and I was amazed when I saw it on the long list.

Jonathan Pool Tommy,
I’m not sure I’m with you on this one, though your point about, specifically, male dialogue is one I would need to revisit.
There are three observations that immediately come to mind
1. The females don’t come out of the book terribly well either

2. I am surprised to find that the book is increasingly described as dystopian- I didn’t think it was either futuristic (which is often the association with dystopia) or especially far removed from real life stories.

3. Meg Wolitzer’s brand of feminist writing (after reading her work and attending her talk earlier this year) takes gender conflict and rams it right back down the reader’s throat in a way much more overt and agenda (I guess it would be!!!) based, than Sophie Mackintosh, I thought.

While I can’t say at this stage whether this is a shortlister; I haven’t read enough, I don’t think it’s a lightweight novel. Definite three star for me, and possibly add one more after a reflection and re-read.

Tommi | 490 comments Interesting points, Jonathan. My feelings toward the novel kept fluctuating throughout the reading – I thought the beginning was really good because of the language, but it didn’t help at a later stage when all too familiar tropes recurred. Maybe I’ve exhausted myself with this sort of novels lately, and some distance will do good. I never enjoy bashing a novel for that matter, because I’m sure a lot of effort, time, and good intent has gone into its making.

Your point #2: I agree, and the ending makes it even less dystopian, and I liked it because it felt more connected to real life than many other things in the book.

Isobel (isblrthrfrd) | 32 comments For me this book seemed more to be about familial relationships (especially mother/daughter sister/sister) rather than a dystopia; I thought the strange setting served to isolate the sisters and their parents rather than holding significance itself. I felt the outsider characters were included only to highlight the tensions between the sisters. When Lia is with Llew she is always watching for her sister’s face in the window to see if she has seen her.

While the ‘therapies’ the girls are forced to complete are the stuff of dystopian fiction, I think the emotions they produce and the roles they force the girls to take on are much more real. I felt as if the book was a distilled story of abuse and sisterhood — this could have been written as a similar story set in a 4 bedroom house in an English suburb with strange parents, the therapies substituted for other more everyday challenges to compete for affection e.g. grades at school or being the most loving daughter, but having the story removed to an ‘island’ allowed for a sharper look at intense sibling rivalries and manipulative parents. Families are all so individual and strange and taking them out of a society serves to highlight this. But that’s just what I took from it — I think this book asks the reader to bring their own experiences to the story as there is so little exposition.

Jonathan Pool I broadly agree with you, Isobel.
The Grace and Lia relationship fluctuates convincingly as the sisters vie for achievement and recognition in their family unit. Neil said elsewhere that the contribution of the third sister, Sky, was a bit lightweight, and I think that’s true.
Although King is rarely in the narrative directly, his vast shadow, and his hold over his wife and the family was the aspect of The Water Cure that made me think this was a story, unfortunately, based around a number of factual accounts of male dominance and some female collusion, in recent years.

Tommi | 490 comments Fascinating thoughts Isobel (and Jonathan), much deeper than I’ve seen in many professional reviews of the novel which seem to ride on the dystopian theme and nothing else. I’m now more keen to reread the novel at a later stage (especially if it’s shortlisted) and try to see past my snap judgments.

message 12: by carissa (last edited Jul 29, 2018 05:10PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

carissa | 98 comments Jonathan wrote: "The Water Cure that made me think this was a story, unfortunately, based around a number of factual accounts of male dominance and some female collusion, in recent years."

I agree. My thoughts upon finishing were "pretty pretty misogyny" The beautiful language and flow of the writing made the in-fighting and men's behavior/speech even more disturbing.

It didn't read as dystopian at all. In fact, it was a beautiful bad dream. One the female protagonists don't know is bad, because a lot of what they'd been brainwashed into believing is turning out to me accurate.

I'm not sure why it didn't quite come off, for me. I enjoyed the writing, but kept waiting for more strong reactions from the sisters...both in the writing and their actions, but perhaps that wouldn't have been true to the vibe of the book.

I hope she writes a sequel about what the girls do and King's men are really up to.

Jonathan Pool I posted my review just now, Carissa. My immediate reaction as I got into the book, and got a feel for King, was that The Water Cure was a take on the not infrequent real life cases of unacceptable family rules behind closed doors. The Austrian Fritzl case, and more recently the Turpins (father and mother) in California.

Many are the self proclaimed healers who have licence to go ahead with extreme forms of curing when/if mainstream healthcare hasn’t worked.

Not dystopian in the sense that this story has happened, is happening.

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5275 comments The author's thoughts

I feel like at the moment the world is quite a scary, rapidly-changing place, and maybe there’s a degree of looking at dystopian fiction as a way of coming to terms with this - a sort of ‘practice run’ for what the future might become, a preparation. Dystopian fiction to me is a way to explore what could happen, to look at our own world as much as the created one by positing hypotheticals. But at the same time it is a form of escapism, and maybe even a comfort, because it shows you how much worse things can get, and yet how there is hope even in some really bleak scenarios

For me, the appeal of the dystopian was that I could elements of what was happening in our world and place them in a petri dish of my own creating; a claustrophobic, isolated community of women, then the men introduced at exactly the right time.

message 15: by Neil (new) - rated it 2 stars

Neil | 1867 comments I think I prefer Jonathan’s take on it!

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5275 comments The sisterly bonds are important also

"I’m from quite a big, Welsh, matriarchal family. My grandma is boss. And I’ve got seven cousins and they are all girls around my age, so we all grew up together and are really close. ......Exploring those dynamics, you love each other and you hate each other. My sister and I used to have our own secret language. Now our secret language is Welsh – we speak it in front of our mum if we don’t want her to know what we are saying. It drives her mad.”

And were the starting point for the book

I didn’t set out to write a feminist book, but I think when you write a book centred on female voices and exploring what it means to be a woman in the world, it’s hard for it not to be feminist. It came from a place that was a bit angry. I’m not sure I could have written it at any other time than 2016, where the world felt like it was changing. Being a woman felt difficult and dangerous. Trump was about to be president. There are so many things happening at the moment, such as #MeToo and the abortion referendum. It shows that women’s bodies are still very much up for debate. I read an article that said that dystopian feminism was ‘a big trend’, and I thought, ‘It might be a trend, but it’s also our lives.’”

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5275 comments And she also says

One thing I’ve adored is hearing what different readers take from the book - whether reading it at face value as a story about an isolated family hiding from the mainland, to those who really deep dive and read mythologies into it, metaphors, find layers to uncover. All interpretations are valid (and delightful to me – people are reading and thinking about my book! What could be better, honestly?)

message 18: by Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer (last edited Jul 30, 2018 07:10AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5275 comments Just completed this and need some time to process my thoughts.

My thoughts are to agree with Isobel - this seems to be a book which invites the reader to bring their own interpretation (I recall Neil in his review which I read several months back) talked about the this lack of interpretation as simultaneously the strength and weakness of the book.

I can see pretty well all the ideas above

- it clearly has dystopian elements and that is how the author appears to have intended it

- interestingly it takes the idea of toxic masculinity literally - what a shame Tim Winton was not on a shortlist alongside this book, that would have made for a fascinating discussion

- there is an element of environmental disaster (maybe like Fever Dream), and as I understand that is how this book started its life

- as a father of three daughters (*) and having watched their interactions and dynamics for several hours as I read this book, it’s clearly got a lot to say on female sibling relationships

- I can see why Jonathan interpreted this as an example of an extreme Patriarchal cult and why Isobel saw it as a shadow of a less extreme example. I also see the exaggerated warnings that the parents give the children as an extreme example of Charley says, or stranger danger and the extreme warnings families and societies give to children to keep them safe from the world, even at the expense of pure truth (a statistically more accurate warning would be against Someone you know Danger)

- There are some fascinating parallels with the #metoo movement and in particular the way people have reacted to it - including the generational divides that have occurred in the feminist movement as a result (albeit the parallel is far from exact) and some of the hostile male reaction

(*) you can imagine that for me the opening sentence of the novel was shall we say interesting

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5275 comments Just posted my review.

Robert | 1974 comments Just received it today

message 21: by Hugh (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3122 comments Mod
I am almost halfway through this and so far I am struggling a little to see the point. Will come back to the discussion when I have finished it.

message 22: by Hugh (last edited Aug 02, 2018 04:57AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3122 comments Mod
I have finished this, and it definitely wouldn't be on my shortlist, though Jonathan, Isobel and Gumble make some interesting points. You make me wonder if my understanding of the word dystopian is correct - there is certainly an element of failed utopia about the family, but because neither of the main narrators knows everything the others do, and they have both been brought up in isolation, it can never be entirely clear what the underlying scenario really is. To be honest I got rather impatient with the whole thing, but that is probably personal taste and prejudice.

My review

Jonathan Pool Hugh wrote: "You make me wonder if my understanding of the word dystopian is correct-there is certainly an element of failed utopia about the family..."

In the text itself, King acknowledges your point here about utopian ideals:
“ Even if it is a failed utopia, at least we tried”(222)

I found this book enjoyable on a first read, and deeper and more enjoyable on an early second reading- the information gained from reading reviews here, and in the papers, also helps.

I think one's view, definition, and understanding of "dystopia" is important. There has been much comment about 'genre' writing, and its place on prize list. Dystopian fiction, as most commonly understood will be an automatic deterrent to some would be readers. A quick google look up clarifies that while dystopian futures, in fiction, is well known (Nineteen Eighty Four, for example), the term is also applicable to real life societies- Stalin's Russia was dystopian.
My reading of The Water Cure is that it is redolent of the 'new religious movements' such as the Unification Church, and that the story it tells is very much of the here and now.

message 24: by Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer (last edited Aug 02, 2018 04:18AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5275 comments When I Google dystopia I get the following definition.

“an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.”

Depending on how you interpret this, it’s a book about a imagined society where the environment is degraded by men being literally toxic to women OR about a totalitarian family and community/cult or I would argue both.

So I am happy to use dystopian.

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5275 comments Agreed not sure future is necessary at all.

message 26: by Hugh (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3122 comments Mod
I am not sure "everything is bad" in any dystopias I can think of!

Cordelia (anne21) | 110 comments I'm just starting this one. Diffucult to tell at this stage.

But in connection to utopias and dystopias. It is a very confusing study. Basically every situation can be either one of the two. One persons utopia will be another person's dystopia. Thomas More's original Utopia was actually a pretty nasty place for a lot of the inhabitants.

We've all got a bit confused with the new modern meaning of dystopia. It has come to be associated with the end of the world. It has elements of apocalyse.

Meike (meikereads) Okay, I guess no one will drown in the depths of this tale. Also, no detectable feminism.

Here's my review.

message 30: by Britta (last edited Aug 07, 2018 09:13AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Britta Böhler | 40 comments I love a good dystopian novel but I could't come up with many positive aspects for this one.

My review:

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5275 comments Ignoring Snap, whereas Mars Room seems to be drawing the most antipathy (and to be fair quite a bit of enthusiasm) and criticism for its structure; this seems to be drawing the most indifference and comments about its lack of interest.

If a nations greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members then a forums greatness is how it’s treats the weakest longlist members.

I attempted to get behind the structure of Mars Room (plus, perhaps less successfully, show how Snap did genuinely transcend its genre) so have tried to expand my Water Cure review to pick out a few more of the associations I saw in the book.

message 32: by But_i_thought_ (last edited Aug 07, 2018 08:11AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

But_i_thought_ (but_i_thought) | 111 comments I have just reviewed this book and seem to have enjoyed it more than others here!

Some reviewers have commented on the lack of detectable feminism.

I would argue that there are subtle feminist themes at play here.

Take for example the notion that patriarchy relies on the rejection and “pathologizing” of female emotion:

By way of context, throughout our history, women have been subjected to a wide range of questionable medical procedures in order to treat what was deemed “female hysteria” (only acknowledged as an invented condition in 1952). This is echoed in the way the men in the novel respond to female display of emotion:

We have never been permitted to cry because it makes our energies suffocating. Crying lays you low and vulnerable, racks your body. If water is the cure for what ails us, the water that comes from our own faces and hearts is the wrong sort. It has absorbed our pain and is dangerous to let lose. Pathological despair was King’s way of describing an emergency that needed cloth, confinement, our heads held underwater. (p. 67)

Apart from King, other men in the novel respond to female emotion with similar disgust. Here is an excerpt from a scene in the forest, after Llew uses Lia:

‘Are you crying?’ he asks, without opening his eyes.
‘No,’ I say. ‘I have a headache.’ I lie down so that the water won’t course down my face. […]
‘Don’t cry,’ he says, finally looking at me properly. ‘I hate it when women cry. It’s manipulative.’ He gets to his feet. ‘Go inside and take an aspirin,’ he says, puling me up too.
‘You want to watch that,’ he adds. ‘You want to take care of yourself better.’ (p. 148)

It’s only in the third act, where Grace encourages Lia, that she manages to turn her emotions into her source of power:

Be angry, I wanted to tell Lia. […] Don’t be grateful! Be angry! Be tough! (p.235)

There are other themes in the novel with a similar arc – the notion of female purity (read historically: virginity) as something that needs to be protected by women from “contamination” via contact with men, as well as the theme of “inoculation”:

Sometimes my housemates, hardier girls, brought men back to their rooms, and I couldn’t understand why they did it, whether it was recklessness or inoculation or both. (p. 79)

(One might argue that King deliberately sent the worst kind of men to the island as a form of “inoculation” against the male species.)

That said, I grant the novel does have issues. To me, it lacks a clear point-of-view, as if the author was ultimately unsure what she wanted to say with this book.

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5275 comments I thought your review was excellent. I have been surprised at the rather dismissive reaction to this book but I think we all have books on the longlist that just don’t work for us (mine is Washington Black I have just discovered) and for a lot of people it’s clear that is Water Cure.

message 34: by Hugh (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3122 comments Mod
Yes, an excellent review, which goes some way to explaining why the likes of Daisy Johnson liked the book! I felt I was missing the point a little when I read it...

message 35: by Meike (last edited Aug 07, 2018 09:24AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Meike (meikereads) Sorry guys, but that's exactly my issue with this book: It's simplistic, and refers to the most stereotypical ideas of men and women (the sadistic male, the woman as the victim, emotion as a female characteristic and on and on and on). If you stereotype genders, I refuse to call that feminism.

Also, when you look at the overall narrative arch of the book, there is no message whatsoever.

Britta Böhler | 40 comments I'm with Meike on this. For me the novel was just a 'bandwagon-book', a rehash of ideas and themes of previous books without a real narrative or story of its own. And as for message: I have no idea what the book wants to tell me, if anything. Other than that men will dump you when you are too demanding and women will always fall for the wrong guy. If the judges wanted a topical book on feminism or #meetoo, I dont know why they picked this one over, for instance, The Red Clocks.

But_i_thought_ (but_i_thought) | 111 comments The differing interpretation and perceptions of this book is precisely what makes this novel so interesting to discuss!

I thought it was the ambiguity in the portrayal of men and women that made this so engaging. I wouldn’t describe the men (Llew, James, Gwil) as sadistic. Flawed, yes. Emotionally stunted, perhaps. But not sadistic. Llew shows a gentler side now and then, while keeping the reader uncertain about his intentions. And the sisters definitely aren’t hapless victims – they come off as the more psychopathic of the lot in many parts of the story!

I thought the book touched on interesting gender-related themes here and there, but agree with Britta that the ultimate takeaway is murky.

Jonathan Pool My original interpretation of the book, which I like, and continue to do so, did not pick out feminism or dystopia.
I’ve subsequently read the judges quick summary of The Water Cure, and a part of their verdict seems to reflect my own views: “This chilling, beautifully written novel explores the ways in which extreme parental protection can fail, and unpicks patriarchy at its core, forcing us to ask what it means to survive, indeed whether it is possible to survive, in a man’s world”

The patriarchy that it brings to my mind is a very warped one, and one which is evocative of countless chilling, but true, accounts of rogue, (charismatic?) men wreaking havoc in their declared “families”. Check out The Order of the Solar Temple (1984) or the Russian Doomsday Cult (the group’s leader had not joined his followers, most of whom were women, but included children as young as 18 months), citing the need to “meet others who had not yet arrived”):

I completely concur with you, But_I_thought, that the women and the men in the book were equally culpable of bad behaviour. It’s just that the women had obvious reasons to be messed up after the psychological and physical abuse meted out by their father.

MisterHobgoblin I haven't finished this yet, so my thoughts may change, but I cannot shale the parallels with 19th century manners novels. Things like Drama in Muslin. It is all about the daughters in the big house going out to formals, their first encounters with men, the insulation from the real world with rough men in the fields, the competition for affection intensified by having such a short window of time to be spotted.

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5275 comments Very interesting Mister Hobgoblin and Muslin of course does feature here.

On reading your note I thought of King as an extreme version of Mr Wodehouse anxious to tell his daughter and her governess of the dangers of the world, but only really to keep them living with him at home.

"It is never safe to sit out of doors, my dear.”

"Matrimony, as the origin of change, was always disagreeable; . . . he was very much disposed to think Miss Taylor had done as sad a thing for herself as for them, and would have been a great deal happier if she had spent all the rest of her life at Hartfield.”

Robert | 1974 comments I noticed that The Water Cure shares quite a few similarities with Yorgos Lanthimos' Dogtooth (so far anyway)

MisterHobgoblin The Water Cure is set on an island in a post-apocalyptic near future. Three sisters, Grace, Lia and Sky live in a health spa hotel with their mother and King, their stepfather. Their guests are all damaged women, seeking cures from the sun and radiation and other horrors of the mainland. The radiation has not reached the island, offering the family a refuge from the horrors of the real world.

And one day King dies. And three men arrive from the mainland. And mother disappears.

This feels like a transposition of a 19th Century Irish manners novel into another era. The sisters might as well have been living in the big house, an Anglo-Irish family refusing to fraternise with the servants and sheltering from the growing rebellion outside the gates. The girls are expected to engage in all sorts of treatments and cures - the rituals and manners of the aristocracy - to protect them from the coarseness of the men in the fields. Then, in the season of their debut, they are expected to transform from children into wives.

And just like the manners novels, we find ourselves thrown into a maelstrom of sibling rivalry; we find the blend of excitement and terror at being cut loose into adulthood; we find power games between young women and red blooded men.

For the first section, before the men arrive, the narration switches often between Lia and Grace - with some sections narrated in third person - and it is intriguing. This, to be fair, is the time when it still seemed we were in a dystopian future and the novel was to be about the world that had been created rather than a character study supposed to reflect a universal and severe family. Then, when the men show up, the pace changes and the line between fantasy/dream and reality blurs. The narrative focus shifts only occasionally and the pace slows to a crawl - ironically since the characters seem to do a lot of running around for its own sake. There is a really repetitive feel; it is stated over and over again that the sisters must not touch the men for fear of contamination, yet still they are driven to touch. By the end of this section, it is no longer terribly clear what is happening at all; there are violent thoughts and violent acts but it feels pretty directionless. The ending is the pretty much inevitable conclusion that everything has been slowly working up to.

I am sure some people will like this book. Read at a simplistic level, it could be taken as a battle of the sexes. The isolation of the women could be seen as a uber-feminist kind of utopia - except that the women don't seem happy with it and still live under the shadow of King. And I am sure some readers will be able to find a climate change angle to fit with their world view. Maybe I wilfully read this to fit in with my fascination with Irish politics. So maybe it is a bit of a universal truth template just waiting for readers to overlay their own personal agenda.

The trouble is, as a template it is probably a bit of an imperfect, forced fit. And in its own rights, it is all a bit confusing and unevenly paced.

message 43: by Anita (last edited Aug 09, 2018 06:23AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anita Pomerantz | 127 comments Jonathan wrote: "Hugh wrote: "You make me wonder if my understanding of the word dystopian is correct-there is certainly an element of failed utopia about the family..."

In the text itself, King acknowledges your ..."

I read this book almost the exact same way you did, Jonathan. And I enjoyed it as a story of dysfunctional family with a cult-like father figure at the head, doing bizarre practices as a means of control and warding off evil. I didn't read any reviews beforehand, and not once did it pop into my mind that there were strong feminist themes, nor did I conceive of the world as dystopian (although perhaps falsely portrayed that way by King to his daughters).

I loved the language and foreboding atmosphere of the book, the unrelenting tension. But I didn't see it as an important novel or as one with a whole lot to say.

Anita Pomerantz | 127 comments To me, it lacks a clear point-of-view, as if the author was ultimately unsure what she wanted to say with this book.."

Ultimately, that's my biggest criticism. Interesting storytelling; no discernible theme. Which is fine, but not for a book in contention for the Man Booker. I am not sure you can pin a theme on a book after you've written it. Either one has emerged, or you edit it to enhance a theme you had in mind from the get go - - but I feel like the marketers of this book are trying to retrofit it with an importance that isn't actually there.

Robert | 1974 comments In fact I'm having a hard time trying to find a theme. I guess family dynamics. I also see it as how powerful love is, no matter how repressed, something present in the overstory.

message 47: by Paul (new) - rated it 2 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8542 comments Mixed views on this. I rather like the way the set-up can sustain many different interpretations and I think most are supported by the text and were in the back, if not always the front, of the author's mind.

But then the 2nd part when the men comes drags rather. And the final part seems keen to provide some reveals that might have been beter left for the reader to deduce or imagine.

I can't help feel it would have been better as a much shorter novella although it would then, unlike apparently [insert example of your choice], have then been deemed ineligible.

Robert | 1974 comments I finished the book a couple of hours ago.

Full thoughts will be on the blog but thematically I do see connections - the main one being violence, more importantly violence influenced by the environment regardless if it is rural or urban.

The previous four books I've read share this. I'm now reading In Our Mad and Furious City and there's a piece about creating violence. There's a similar sentence in the water cure.

MisterHobgoblin Just a personal gripe, but I wish people would re-print their reviews on these threads. It leaves moth holes in the threads to keep referring people off to some review elsewhere. How are people supposed to respond to these externally hosted reviews?

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