Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

Alright, so, you know how a few weeks ago I was all ranty about not liking books where the characters are unlikeable? I'M A COMPLETE LIAR.

Turns out I like them just fine thankyouverymuch, if the author is Gillian Flynn. And, to be fair, the character(s) I'm thinking of did have bits that made me like them, if not bits that redeemed them, you know, morally. 

I've seen this book all over the place. From what I can see, it is one of the most hyped/successful novels of 2012. But in case you don't look at the same corners of the internet that I do, lemme tell you about this Girl that is Gone.

Newlyweds Amy and Nick Dunne move to Lonesome Tumble Weed, Missouri (south of Nowheresville) after losing their glamorous jobs in NYC. As one can imagine with this kind of change, their marriage has hit a bit of a rough patch, and then  dunne dunne duuuuuuuunne (GET IT?!) Amy goes missing. As the evidence stacks up, it all seems to point to her husband. This is a thriller/mystery that alternates between Nick's and Amy's perspective really effectively to create seat-squirming tension.


I loved this book.

I read it in about a minute and a half. There were twists that I feel like I maybe should have seen coming but I TOTALLY DIDN'T. My approach was to Guess All the Things, so even if I did land on something like the truth, I always changed my mind a paragraph later. And the ending, you guys. I can not even.

This face. This was the face.

It's a mystery, so there's not a lot I can talk about here, and that plus loving each sociopathic page makes for a short review. All I can say is I would highly suggest getting your crime-solving hands on this before they turn it into a movie starring whomever the 30-year-old version of Gwyneth Paltrow is.

Final piece of advice: do not skip to the end of the book to see how many pages there are or to fulfill your Harry Burns urges. You will ruin it.


Saturday, 24 November 2012

Pattern Recognition - William Gibson

Pattern Recognition was one of my top 5 books as teenager, largely because of its style. For example, the opening:

Pattern Recognition: Five hours' New York jet lag and Cayce Pollard wakes up in Camden Town to the dire and ever-circling wolves of disrupted circadian rhythm.
It is that flat and spectral non-hour, awash in limbic tides, brainstem stirring fitfully, flashing inappropriate reptilian demands for sex, food, sedation, all of the above, and none really an option right now.

16-Year-Old Me: Ah man, I am about to be soooo cool!

It's the rhythm of Gibson's language that really got me as a 16 year old, and still grabs me today. Reading this now felt like finding a band you loved as a kid, listening to them again and discovering that they are not, in fact, embarrassing, but still awesome. It's a good feel, you guys.

Celebratory panda gif.

So what's this nostalgia-inducing gem about, then?

Cayce (pronounced "Case") Pollard is an advertising consultant, a coolhunter. She's keenly aware of the hottest trends and can tell at a glance whether a product or brand will sell. An anxiety disorder that is triggered by brands helps her in her work, but makes living in our commercial world, oh, a tad difficult. Now, the No Logo thing reads like the Original Hipster,

Presenting: The Hipsteriest Gif on Tumblr

but Cayce can pull it off. She's endearing. She has flaws and obsessions. She is weird, and I like her.

Cayce is in London to consult on a new logo designed by the advertising company Blue Ant. While there, she's offered another assignment. Obscure segments of film footage have been surfacing on the web, and they've developed a frenzied underground following, which Cayce counts herself among. Now, she's been asked to find the maker. 

The book follows Cayce in her international search for the footage's creator. There's intrigue and suspense and shifty characters, and in the background are Cayce's ever-present thoughts of her father, who was last seen in New York City on September 11, 2001. 

I love this book. The first half of the story stayed fresh in my brain from my many teenage reads, and the first half is what I enjoyed most this time around. As the mystery unraveled and the thriller peaked, I became less invested. But still, one of my favourites.

AND, my Dad has kindly informed me that Gibson wrote two follow-ups to Pattern Recognition: Spook Country and Zero History. You can bet those have rocketed to the top of my TBR list. 

This is getting problematic.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

White is for Witching - Helen Oyeyemi

I have decided that, for my November resolution (it's a thing), I will HENCEFORTH post at least once a week here at the Enthusiast. There. It's written on the internet, and so must be true.

H'OKAY. This was the only book of my R.I.P. choices that I had to stop reading by 8 pm, lest that dark corner of my bedroom spawn ghosties. This is a proper haunted house story, where the House itself is as disturbing as the women in its walls. 

Set in a sprawling manor-turned-B&B on the cliffs of Dover, White is for Witching is told through the voices of Miranda; her twin brother, Eliot; her girlfriend, Ore; and the House. The story revolves around Miranda and her disappearance, and so her section is told in third person, while the others are in first. The number of perspective switches and weird, unsettling details make this a book that I will absolutely be rereading, if only to try to understand all of what really happened.  

I love the way Oyeyemi used a kind of slow accumulation of creepy to get to the terrifying and disorienting climax. She combines a pile of acceptably unusual things twin relationship dynamics; Miranda's pica (pronounced pie-kah), an eating disorder that causes the urge to eat things with no nutritional value, like chalk  with supernatural unusual things best discovered on your own to create this sense of unease and confusion. Reading it felt like slowing going crazy and then having one spectacular break. 

Nah, it's cool. Just some guy with some dolls.

OK, I think I might be in trouble.

I really liked this book, and the further away I get from reading it, the more I like it. In with the crazy narrative and the Distinct Style are some really great bits of writing. The internet says Oyeyemi's writing is dark and lyrical, and dark and lyrical it is. 

Also, to my Cult of Wilkie internet buds, there are lesbians AND a Wilkie Collins reference. 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

October? More like DNF-tober. YEAH.

October wasn't the greatest reading month for me. I finished a reread of William Gibson's Pattern Recognition and DNF'd We Need to Talk About Kevin and Grapes of Wrath. Now, let me tell you why:

They bummed me the hell out.

Or, OK, the long version:

When it comes to Grapes, after 200-or-whatever pages of bleakity bleak from Steinbeck, I had to perform an emergency evacuation of myself from 1939 California. It was affecting my life, you guys. As for We Need to Talk About Kevin, it was sooooer overdue. I think it was coming at Grapes directly from Kevin that killed it. I can only take so much focus on characters I find fundamentally unlikeable (remind me to review Adam Davies' The Frog King for you guys sometime. Shuh-heesh). 

You are not as great as you think you are, characters.

In Kevin, as much of the internet has rightly pointed out, it's the mom. She is gratingly Proud and uses outrageously pretentious language and I will talk more about this when I've finished the book and can write a proper post. In Grapes, sure, it's the land owners, it's the Californian police, it's the pesky tractors, but most of all, it's Steinbeck. I'm having a hard time picking the book back up because I know he's just going to yell at me. He gives his call to action legs by making the reader feel terrible (whether it's class rage [which I think he'd prefer], or guilt [which he would take happily, thank you], or general The-World-is-Awful melancholy), and so, presumably, want to Make Change. This is a legitimate way to get things done, but it is also my least favourite. Give me rousing speeches and Hope for the Future any day.

I will eventually finish both of these problem children, Kevin and Grapes. Kevin obviously because I've gots to know what happened and whether my urge to punch the mom in the face ever lets up. Grapes, really, I'll finish because you've got to finish your vegetables. The book is Important, and I would like to have read it, if not to read it. I just need to distance myself from it for a bit so I'm not so annoyed with Steinbeck that I miss the parts that are beautifully written, despite the shouting.

Eaaaasy, Steinbeck.