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Well it’s been a good run. I am wrapping up this site and moving to my new venture The Momus Report. Going to expand my remit a bit and write about a number of other subjects beside books. It made little sense for me to keep this site up when folks found themselves tripping over the ‘book a day’ premise, which evidently no longer applied.
But it has been a wonderful experience and I loved every moment of it. There are too many people to say thanks to individually of course – everyone who commented, participated, wrote ‘Guest Reviews’ during our second wedding here in Australia, or linked to the site – I am very grateful. Also to the writers and publishers who sent me books to review, thank you for your support.
Above all I would like to thank my wife Stephanie. None of this would have been possible without her. Love you babe.
This is the longest I have gone without reviewing a book and I apologise. Will have a review up by this evening. I have quite the backlog of titles built up, many of them forwarded on to me while I was away in Ireland that I need to get around to.
I hope to have a more regular schedule soon once I have found myself a regular job. Anyway apologies once again to my regulars and thanks for reading.
This is not a review. This is a short account of my failure to review a book. Yes, I have been defeated. Mister Charles Yu, I take my hat off to you. I cannot present a review, because I have not finished this book.
In fact I do not intend to ever finish it. Not because it is a bad book. On the contrary, the concept behind it is fascinating. The author’s approach to time travel fiction seems initially reminiscent of a previous book I have reviewed by K.A. Bedford, but the contrast between them could not be greater.
Yu is not employing time travel as a storytelling device. Instead the book itself becomes a time machine and as the reader, you become a function of the book’s existence itself. The adventures of Yu’s protagonist, named Charles Yu, are all bound up with attempting to explain the logic of time travel, even a grammar of time travel, rather than introduce any plot as such.
Which is what defeated me. As a conceptual work this book is quite impressive, but I did not feel there was anything for me to hook on to.
So I gave up. Apologies all round.
I switched to a Jasper Fford novel for the plane home instead. Much less perplexing.
I have been granted an initial term of residency in Australia. Stephanie and I are over the moon.
Yes, this is cooler than an Ewok driving a DeLorean.
Thanks to everyone who has supported us. It’s been an incredible ten months or so. I never could have managed to pull through with a smile on my face without this blog and you were all a part of that. Thank you. My story now has its happy ending.
God, now what am I going to do?
Hi. Just wanted to stop by and say thank you to everyone who sent on their well wishes, and to those who submitted their guest reviews and enabled me to have my husband back long enough to get re-married. We had a lovely day, and he’s already back at the reviews…guess the honeymoon is over! With love, Mrs Stephanie.
But, in a sense, they all already had a fever just as murderous and treacherous: emigration fever. It was burning them up and driving them on.
Ok folks, here is a quick update on the status of your friendly neighbourhood blogger. This afternoon Stephanie and I moved into our new home – for four weeks that is. We’re house-sitting for a lovely couple and keeping two very affectionate cats company.
The most exciting news (for me) is this house has an incredible collection of books! I am very happy. So I will expect I will be sourcing many of my reviews from the books here for the next few weeks.
Moving along, this book is yet another addition to the American dystopia canon. This time the culprit for the devastation of the world is a highly contagious disease. The title is derived from the practice to isolate infected members of communities in a lonely house outside the inhabited area.
Franklin Lopez, left to his own devices by his hardier brother Jackson, finds just such a structure and takes shelter during a violent storm. Together the two brothers, like many others become emigrants in the wake of the disaster in America, are travelling eastward to a mythical port that will lead to safer climes. Jackson is tempted to leave his younger brother behind though. Already their family was broken up when the two boys left their mother behind at their home when they struck out. One more separation would not cost him much.
Franklin is ignorant of his brother’s desire to abandon him. He has discovered within the pesthouse a young, beautiful woman, whose shaved head and deliriousness testifies to her infection with the flux. At first compelled to flee from the obvious signs of infection, Franklin finds himself returning to the young woman Margaret, his attraction to her outweighing the danger she poses. She tells him she comes from the settlement of Ferrytown, where he had his brother had been travelling to, as many others had before them, to cross the treacherous river to the next stretch of road leading to the coast. The inhabitants of the town charge those travelling eastwards almost everything they own for the right to cross. When the flux passes thanks to Franklin’s ministrations, the two travel down to the settlement, only to discover every soul dead.
Everyone they know is gone. Franklin and Margaret decide to make the rest of the trek to the East alone, braving the highways haunted by people rustlers and the prospect of further outbreaks of disease.
The comparison will be made, so obviously I have to get it out of the way first. This is not The Road. For one Jim Crace’s writing is far more lyrical than McCarthy’s spare prose. Furthermore there is a far greater leeway for hope, with Franklin and Margaret’s growing love granting them a brighter future than an aging father and his young son.
Surprisingly Crace is not writing about the apocalypse. He is inverting the format of American manifest destiny, with the huddled masses that have survived the plague travelling east instead of west, seeking safety overseas as America itself and all it represents has been lost to them. His conclusion, given the misery of this book’s setting, is an optimistic one, reflecting Franklin’s youthful enthusiasm for life.
Poetically written, without shying for the darkness at this novel’s heart, this is a wonderful book. A dystopia that does not give up on the future.