Blurbs: Cantero, Joyce, and Park

This past week has been pretty good in terms of input/output. Some library books were adopted temporarily, but more importantly, I managed to take some pieces of my permanent collection to the staff break room to wait for the next owner. This happens so rarely, it should be a national holiday. I have a couple of actual reviews lined up for next week, but here’s some stuff that is not going to be reviewed at great length, yet is worth mentioning.

canteroEdgar Cantero, The Supernatural Enhancements

Writing pro-tip: diaries, letters, scraps of paper, and audio transcripts add at least +3 creepiness to any story. Remember House of Leaves? I don’t, because it was terrifying and I repressed all memories of it.  Cantero’s book has a weird, possibly haunted, house, a narrator who talks like ‘he read too much Lovecraft’, and a mute girl who audio and video records everything that’s going on in the house. Whether you will enjoy it or not depends entirely on whether you like non-traditional narrative forms. This is out on August 12, but I suspect I will sell a lot of copies closer to Halloween.

ghostjoyceGraham Joyce, The Ghost In The Electric Blue Suit

I have a conflicted relationship with Joyce’s books. I like them, but I feel that he toes the line between the realistic and the fantastic, and always errs on the side of the realistic. Everything seems to have a psychological explanation (as in, ‘it’s all in your head’). I was not a big fan of his Some Kind of Fairy Tale, but I decided to give The Ghost In The Electric Blue Suit a chance. I mostly liked it, but I am starting to think that Joyce and I are simply not a good writer/reader pairing after all. I liked the setting, I liked the resolution for David, but I also disliked most of Terri/Colin storyline. In fact, I did not like any of his main women characters, for reasons not entirely clear.

vanishedPaul Park, All Those Vanished Engines

How can we live… when memory tells us one thing, reality another, and imagination a third? 

I was so excited about this book (the inclusion of ‘so’ should indicate that things are about to head in a disappointing direction). David Mitchell was mentioned on the dust jacket, ‘combined narrative of interlocking parts’ was promised. Some meta-fiction was in sight after a few pages, when the story that started rather ordinarily suddenly took the turn for the ‘weird shit happening in both space and time’ (I can see how they linked this to David Mitchell). The first part was interesting, but then the book became a jumble of faces, names, and familial histories. In short, information overload. My mind had trouble extracting meaning because it was not clear what details might be meaningful. The book just seemed unnecessarily complex. I really wanted to like it. Or even finish it. But I could not. Partly because of it all being too much, and partly because Park’s writing style seemed to have a mesmerizing effect on me. My eyes would just glide across the page, but my brain would not engage. Maybe it was something about adjectives. Maybe it was some sentence structure he particularly liked to use.

Your mileage may vary. If you like alternate history, looping complex narratives with shared characters, and like to ponder whether stories have lives of their own and things like that, you can try it and see if you (maybe) like it.

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3 comments

  1. Supernatural Enhancements…I was given a copy of that at Worldcon this weekend, but ended up putting it in the local Little Free Library. After reading this I am kind of wishing that I hadn’t. Ah well.

    All Those Vanishing Engines…I got a copy of this from Netgalley, and months and months later have still been able to get more than ten pages in. The damn thing is already so complex at that point that I am not sure if I’ll be able to get any farther. Still not sure how to translate that into a review so I can check the damn thing off of my list. Ugh. Glad to hear someone else felt similarly about it, though also not glad because it means THERE IS NO HOPE OF GOING FURTHER. Ah well. So it goes.

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