18 May, 2010

Hoot! Hatred and love for Tender Morsels

With apologies to Justine - she hates these review entries.

I just happened to be over at Amazon, and while I was there I jumped over to TM's site and checked out the recent customer reviews. There is the widest range of opinions you'll find of any book, I reckon.
  • 'I don't know HOW an author could produce a book like this and feel good about it. WHY an author would write such a book is unknown to me. The entire text is saturated with sex, figuratively and literally. I have never before in my 20 years of being a librarian said this, but....please recommend this book to NO ONE!'

  • 'I opened this book when I was 16 or 17, soon after it was published. It horrified me, and I can with out a doubt garrentee that it would horrify each and every one of my friends, and many more of my peers - not all of them as innocent as I. This book IS NOT appropriate for children, and should not be classified as children's or young adult literature.'

  • 'aside from all of the violent rapes, the writing in this book is muddled and amateurish [This from someone who is, um, less than well-acquainted with the use of the initial-cap to start a sentence.]- it reads like something you'd find on a snow white rape fan fiction website [Wow. I wish precious_lilywhite had included some links.] the Old Tymey language is inconsistent and was clearly written by a person who has never read a fairy tale written in the time hers takes place, and never talked to another human being. lanagan also introduces every single character she's ever thought of, with asinine storylines that go absolutely nowhere in relation to the story, so that even the main characters barely get any pages spent on their characterization or actions or thoughts. by the end of the book i barely felt like i knew anything about the main characters or their motivations, so the ending was supremely unsatisfying.

    'overall, this was a terrible book. books about rape and sexual assault can be tough reads, but this one was for all the wrong reasons- after the 400th rape in one book with no real resolution or analysis, you have to question the author's sincerity in writing about it and wonder if maybe she was just looking for 'dark' and juicy plot devices and her record broke on that one.'
As a palate-cleanser, here's a really nice impression from Mark Doty, author of Dog Years (on his blog, not the Amazon site - thanks, Eirlys, for pointing me to it!) - I particularly like the absence of warnings-not-to-hand-on-to-the-faint-of-heart in this one.
Lanagan's novel is a fairy tale, of a sort, about a woman so harmed in this world she's lifted to a sort of heaven devoid of conflict, where she raises her two daughters -- and of course, no growing person can remain in a world without tensions and edges. The book's billed as a novel for young adults, but there's no reason it shouldn't be for any reader, especially if you're at all susceptible to the artful evocation of magic, to tales of transformation, and of profound encounters between human beings and animals.

Lanagan's prose is so beautiful and exact that she makes extreme experiences of ravishment -- living through rape, or passing between worlds, or becoming a bear -- feel entirely available to her reader. And despite the darkness of the book, what one carries away is a startling sense of enchantment, of the possibilities with which the slippery and uncertain world shimmers at every moment.


Blogger Greg G said...

Oddly enough, given the kerfuffle, the amazon.co.uk reviews don't go below four stars!

18 May, 2010 14:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Figuratively and literally"

Yuk! That's quite a lot of bodily fluids right there!

18 May, 2010 15:40  
Blogger Penni Russon said...

"...was clearly written by a person who has never read a fairy tale written in the time hers takes place, and NEVER TALKED TO ANOTHER HUMAN BEING"
I loled. Or lolled. Or ell oh elled. Or, strictly, elled oh ell.
Anyway. That's funny what she said.

18 May, 2010 16:24  
Blogger Among Amid While said...

Hi Greg! I guess the UK readers had more warning, and those who thought like this kept away. Or...perhaps everyone over there just loved it! :D

Hi Jonathan! Yes, I know, embarrassing. I TOLD the publishers not to release that literally-saturated copy, but somehow it got out.

Hi Penni! I arrred on the eff, elling. And yes, because everyone knows that all humans speak perfectly consistently all the time (I know I do, and I'm pretty sure precious_lilywhite does, from this outburst); also that TM is a historical novel and therefore should reflect exactly the vernacular of, um, [country] in, um, [year]. *flagellates self*

18 May, 2010 18:20  
Anonymous LaurieA-B said...

Thank you for that palate-cleanser.

My friend wrote about Tender Morsels on Goodreads recently, "This is a book that can so overtake a reader, one should tread carefully but with anticipation at what awaits those who stick with it . . . A book of true, deep, meaningful beauty and pain, with the understanding that both have to exist side-by-side."

18 May, 2010 23:32  
Blogger cleemckenzie said...

I was shredded by one reviewer for my debut novel about cutting and teen suicide. The rest of the reviews have been great, so I recovered.

Loved Tender Morsels.

25 June, 2010 00:10  

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