29 May, 2010

A slew of reviews of TM

Well, it worked, pretty much, for NotNessie: "If you're up for a bittersweet and emotionally difficult read, you should give this one a try, it's worth it."

Book Addiction loved the beginning, hated the middle, liked the ending: "And the multiple points of view (constantly changing without rhyme or reason) sort of annoyed me. And confused me. Also, I missed hearing so much from Liga – she was the only character I really liked, so I wanted more from her."

Rhapsody in Books was pretty pleased with it generally: "It didn’t quite win my heart as much as the “Fractured Fairy Tales” segment on “Rocky and Bullwinkle” [well, I wasn't aiming that high!] but I loved the idea of upending the usual patriarchal assumptions."

A solid, intelligent review over at Evening All Afternoon has a lot of questions about the ending:
Is it supposed to be part of the magic of the situation that Urdda has come to complete apathy or acceptance (which is it?) of humanity's violence to humanity, and her own subjugated state as a woman, in the space of a single night? Is this change of feeling engendered by violence? I find it hard to believe that any simple act of retribution could really slake such a deep hurt. Is there some kind of key in the fact that the violence Urdda causes is unintentional, or righteous? Either idea strikes an uncomfortable chord in an otherwise beautifully resonant book.

Nonesuch Book is really not mad about it on a large and small scale (the dialect misfires for this reader):
I think that I have hit upon what bothers me most about the book. Lanagan could not decide whether to write a children's book or an adult's book. It is neither appropriate for many children and young adults or as dark and probing as required by many adults. The feminist themes strike me as simplistic. The second half of the book dragged on in largely uninteresting exposition. And then when I put my children's librarian hat on ...
Comments are interesting on this one, too. (e.g. "also curious how the fans of the novel could forgive Lanagan such pathetic excuses for dialect as 'et by a bear,' 'moon babs,' 'littlee man' and the like.")

This Book and I Could Be Friends thinks it's twice as long as it ought to be: "I almost couldn't get past the rape scene (luckily, it's a fade-out) and was seriously weirded out by a certain episode involving Branza and a man-bear. ...Plus, the dialect - i.e. 'littlee-man' and bab/babby - is half-hearted and ridiculous." And note to Margo: Don't read those comments if you're ever feeling fragile.

...while Piling on the Books
liked the middle part of this book very much, with the outsiders and the daughters dealing with them and their lives and Liga sort of seeing what kind of world she lived in. But the beginning part was squicky, and the ending part dragged on a little long and sort of danced around whatever points Lanagan was trying to make.

Which all goes to show that:
  • You can never get the pacing (or the content!) right for everyone, and

  • a book looks very different from the inside than it does from the outside. In so many different ways.

UPDATE: Ah, three of the above are a non-structured reading group. A fourth member delivers his verdict over here, and the rest pile on again, stacks on the mill.

8 Comments:

OpenID moreidlethoughts said...

"TM" is not in my local book store and I'm on the library request list.
All these conflicting opinions have certainly whetted my appetite!

29 May, 2010 16:07  
OpenID moreidlethoughts said...

"TM" is not in my local book store and I'm on the library request list.
All these conflicting opinions have certainly whetted my appetite!

29 May, 2010 16:08  
Blogger Misrule said...

I have Volume 1 of Fractured Fairy Tales on DVD, special delivered from Mssr Amazon. If your DVD player is all-region, we could have a fairy-tale collection, fractured fairy tale watching beer and pizza night some time...

29 May, 2010 17:18  
Blogger rhapsodyinbooks said...

I am very sorry I did not explain more fully the comment in my review about "Fractured Fairy Tales." This was not meant as an insult at all.

In first grade, I remember seeing a loyalty oath posted on the classroom wall, and asking the teacher "what is communism?" She told me never to ask such a question again, and my parents got called. I don't recall that my parents addressed the question directly, but my father started bringing home Mad Magazine for me. He also introduced my sister and I to Fractured Fairytales. These two series taught me more than anything that the status quo could be questioned and re-interpreted, and that in fact "accepted" meaning was more a function of ideological or cultural power than of "truth." This understanding informs my politics to this day.

Nowadays, in some ways the need for alternative interpretations is not as great, and in some ways it is more pressing, for ideology is hidden so much more cleverly. Thus, while in my generation, Fractured Fairytales played such a seminal role in my intellectual development, a book like yours may play the same role for younger generations.

Thus Fractured Fairytales will always hold a special place in my heart, but perhaps in ten or twenty years you may read the same comment about your book, for it too delivers the message that long-accepted stories may be retold in new ways with different messages. The fact that so many women buy into the "Pretty Women" version shows that we still very much need to hear other retellings of fairy tales like yours.

30 May, 2010 00:54  
Blogger Among Amid While said...

Thanks, moreidlethoughts: I'm glad they had some good effect!

Sounds like a plan, Judy.

Hi, rhapsodyinbooks - don't worry, I didn't take offence! I thought you were being funny. Now I see that you were in fact totally serious, and I see why (and apologise for joking back!). Thanks for taking the trouble to explain this, and for your kind words.

01 June, 2010 16:48  
Anonymous Oxygen Plant said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

09 June, 2010 19:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I don't know what all these folks are talking about! I just read TM for the second time, and it remains the most beloved book on my well-stocked shelves. In fact, I ignored my 'to-do' list and stayed in bed til 11am just to finish, even though I already knew the ending. So there!

04 January, 2011 16:11  
Blogger Among Amid While said...

Dear Anonymous, I love you. Hugs, Margo.

04 January, 2011 16:32  

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