Saturday, January 14, 2006


Here's the Guardian review, by Mr. Grimwood, with some pretty quotable stuff in it.

Jeff VanderMeer's latest is as complicated, impressive and exasperating as anything he has written. An afterword to a book that doesn't exist, it presents Janice Shriek's account of her dead brother's life, with his annotations, since Duncan Shriek isn't actually dead, merely transformed by his own research from obsessive historian into something much darker. Like City of Saints and Madmen, Shriek takes place mostly in Ambergris, and features war between rival publishing houses, society feuds and, inevitably, the grey caps, original rulers of Ambergris and now a marginalised race banished to underground tunnels beneath the city. Owners of a fungal technology, they haunt the subconscious of the citizens above, always present, in fear if not in actuality. VanderMeer makes no compromises with his readers, but Shriek is twisted, darkly funny and ultimately rewarding.

Some readers will get the bends from Shriek--this is true. It requires some patience (shouldn't novels require some patience?). Some will be exasperated but still like it. Others will likely toss it across the room. Some people who loved City of Saints aren't going to like it as much. Some people who didn't like City are going to love this book.

Ultimately, this is a much more accessible book than City while still being deeply strange (in a good way).

We shall see as the year continues, but I believe Shriek's deeply focused human story, and its central tragedy, laced with comedy, is going to win me a lot of new readers.

Anyway, the game's begun. LOL!


(Evil Monkey: "Were you drunk when you wrote that inspiration post?" Jeff: "Er, I was a bit tipsy. Thus all the repetition. I totally stand by it, though." Evil Monkey: "Well, it inspired me. Look at all of this writing I've done on your kitchen wall using my own natural essences." Jeff: "Oh God, I think I'm going to be sick." Evil Monkey: "Well, not on this wall, please. My masterpiece is already finished.)


At 4:12 AM, Blogger Steve said...

Is it just me, or does that paragraph beginning 'some readers' take a lot of words to not say very much?

At 5:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, pretty much. I was trying to get across the point that this is a very different book from the ones that I've done in the past and I can't really predict reaction to it. At the same time, I know in my gut it's the best thing I've ever done.


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