Peoplez, I cannot even begin to dissect how much this book pisses me off on a deeper level. I tweeted, early on, "Dear Post Modernism, this is the era of "from margin to center", not "from warbling subconsciousness to drunken lips". I also said to Mike Perschon, "I kinda shut my brain off at 'This is a magical stalk of celery' in Harry's dream sequence and am predicting a really, really hard time getting through this book. Maybe because I'm still in genre fic mode, not litfic mode." I was coming offa Boneshaker and Perdido Street Station, fyi, this is how long it took for me to get started on talking about this book.
You want an actual non-rage-y engagement with this? Here is Mike's.
So, I was going to write this review and be all serious and analytical about it, but ended up with incoherent rage about it, and proceeded to write fanfic instead. Because this story? Is all about fucked up people fucking each other up in order to fuck themselves up even more. There. I said it. Quote at will. And while telling Ay-Leen all about my fanfic, I degenerated instead into ranting about the book. Because I still cannot process this book in a mature, professional manner, you will have to satisfy for my rage, copied-pasted from my chat, typos included.
Under the cut so you can skip it if you don't want to read it. Spoilers ahoy.
Jaymee: i really need sleep, my brain is shutting down
but i really want to crank out a few hundred more words on this fanfic!
Ay-leen: hee hee hee
I remember those days when I used to stay up writing fic
what kins is it?
Jaymee: ..... well, i started writing it because I was way too cheesed at Dream of Perpetual Motion to write a coherent review
i had a nightmare about it
when i woke up i was like, that could be good fanfic
doesnt quitework out so well
i have a semblance of a plot now and it's just a mtter of writing it dow
and since the source is postmodern
i'm not too worried about making it tight prose
Sent at 9:56 PM on Sunday
Ay-leen: hee hee hee
so you're making a fanfic about a book you didn't like?
Sent at 10:02 PM on Sunday
Jaymee: i'm re-writing the ending, basically
SO IT DOESNT SUCK SO MUCH
Ay-leen: ah I see
well, then that;'s always an excuse for fanfic then
i really cant write a review of it without getting so angry
at how fucked-up shit is in the book
Ay-leen: geez, what happened?
Jaymee: oh jesus
Ay-leen: I don't mind being spoiled
Jaymee: the hero is stuck in an airship
how did he get there?
STARTS NI CHILDHOOD, THIS STORY
prospero taligent is a mad scientist trope
adopts a little girl
for her tenth birthday, gives her a unicorn
like, actual, horse with spiral horn
invites ten boys and ten girls to the tower to attend miranda's birthday party
hero, harold, kinda sticks out
prospero promises that all the kids? their dreams will come true
some way or another
he spends the next several years trying to fidn out more about these kids so that he can make their dreas come true
harold, however, is brougt back to be miranda's playmate
they live in a kind of holodeck which is Miranda's magic island of yay
but it's also obviously her prison
because her father wants to protext his precious precious daughter from the rest of the world and keep her innocent forever
prospero kicks harold out when he sees miranda and harold kissing one day
harold grows up, goes to college, has some job doing nightshift
hears miranda over the radio, addrfessing whoever is out there that might be listening
talking about her fucked up father
how she tries to run away but keeps getting dragged back
turns out, after her kissing harold
prospero took to making her sleep on white sheets
CHECKING THEM EVERY MORNING TO MAKE SURE SHE IS STILL PURE
KID IS STILL ELEVEN
she gets her period, he freaks out
so at this point i'm pretty convinced that postmodernism is like, about BEING OUT OF FUCKING TOUCH WITH REALITY
at some point, harold does meet miranda again and has to rescue her from a couple of thugs
who were apparently told by prospero to kidnap miranda
so that harold can rescue her
not sure what knd of sense this makes, but it kinda mimicks everything that miranda and harold used to do in miranda's magic island room
there's some stuff about harold's sister, astrid, who becomes an artist
and kills herself creating some art
complete with caricature of militant feminist theorist man-hating friend
AND, at some party, a cameo of Dexter Palmer himself, talking about his new novel, and being insufferably boring
I DREW THE LINE THERE AND PUT THE BOOK DOWN BUT NEEDED TO FIND OUT IF THERE WAS GONA BE A REAL PLOT AT SOME POINT
besides which, i was reading it on the plane so it wasnt like i had anything else to do
Prospero Taligent, fucked up dude, has created himself a business empire where he builds robots to replace people, hates stuff that's organic apparently because they die
he has also hired an artist to create a sculpture of Miranda
in order to preserve how she looks like
as she is
the sculptor like, makes a new sculpture of miranda EVERY YEAR
doesnt matter out of what
Prospero says, i want it out of granite
and sculptor dude is like ..... but i cant cut granite
and prospero is like WELL NOW YOU CAN I WILL MAKE YOU A TOOL THAT CAN CUT THROUGH GRANITE WITH UTTER PRECISION
and he does
because he is Prospero Taligent, a wizard and tech genius!
Ay-leen: well, this is one whacked out book
Jaymee: IT GETS WORSE
Prospero Taligent is also on a mad quest to create a Perpetual motion machine!
and preserve Miranda for all eternity
as she is
and turns out
the unicorn she got?
she was FORCED to watch, as in, tied to a chair and eyelids taped open
while Prospero drilled a hole into a horse's forehead and put in the ivory spiral
"This will teach you. next time, ask for something that doesn't die."
something like that. he was upset that she didnt want a mechanical unicorn.
BY THE WAY
THIS STORY IS TOLD BY HAROLD WHILE HE IS TRAPPED IN AN AIRSHIP
WITH MIRANDA'S DISEMBODIED VOICE
why is her voice disembodied?
back to the sculptor
Prospero is all like I FOUND IT! WE WERE WORKING WITH THE WRONG MATERIALS ALL THIS WHILE! WE NEED TO SCULP HER BODY ITSELF TO PRESERVE IT AS IT IS!
on the day that the airship is launched, harold gets amessage from miranda
telling him to come rescue her
he goes to the tower to do so
along the way meeting the sculptor
and some guy in the coal room who miranda fucked once in a while
this is where i thought we might get some plot
when he gets to the airship
prospero is ther and he' all like I KNOW WHAT YOUR DREAM IS AND WILL NOW MAKE IT COME TRUE
YOUR DREAM IS TO BE RESCUING THE PRINCSS
WHICH YOU NOW CAN DO FOR THE REST OF TIME
KILL ME NOW
Harold wont ACTUALLY rescue any damn princess, oh no, that's not his dream, apparently, it's the adventure of rescuing the princess
THATS THE FUCKING PAYOFF
THIS IS THE COMMENTARY ON HOW LOVE FITS IN AN INDUSTRIALIZED WORLD.
i cannot even begin to fathom it
nor can i even express my contempt for a story that is essentially about fucked up people fucking others up to fuck themselves up even more.
it doesnt help that Harold, the narrator, is HAS NO BACKBONE, OBVIOUSLY
there are only three female characters, one of Harold's co-workers, Astrid, and Miranda
Astrid and Miranda sound interesting
EXCEPT THEY DIE
in HORRIBLE WAYS
Astrid falling into a vat of something to encase her body in molten metal to preserve her body for art
and her stupid stupid caricature feminist friend insisting to the police that her last words wer SO PROFOUND! "HOT BUTTER SPLEEN! HOT BUTTER SPLEEN!" when the pizza delivery guy who accidentally trigged the mechanism to drop her in heard "stop the machine"
and Miranda maimed so she's nothing more than a disembodied voice
AND SHE DOESNT EVEN TELL HER OWN STORY
well that's fucking great.
i dont even.
there is no cohesive thought I can manage for that
i've dedicated this much brain matter to it already
i might as well write something that can reconcile myself to having exhausted energy getting pissed off at it when i try to engage with it
i mean, it's not all awful
2% of it? great stuff, ruminations on perception vs. reality, on the place of miracles, on exercises in futility
BUT YOU KNOW. THERE'S ONLY SO MUCH IN EXERCISES IN FUTILITY I CAN TAKE IN A SINGLE BOOK.
Sent at 10:32 PM on Sunday
harold being a pathetic backboneless jellyfish?
prospero, having explained to harold all the shite that he's been through, tells Harold, the least you can do is put me in a cryogenic chamber i've specially prepared because you will now kill me
AND HAROLD DOES
DUDE PUT YOU THROUGH SHIT FOR NOTHING!
DUDE PUT THE WOMAN YOU LOVE, or think you love anyway, THROUGH SHIT FOR... FUCKED UP REASONS OF HIS OWN
and it is apparently somehow a fine idea to respect his dying wishes.
Sent at 10:36 PM on Sunday
yeah, this sounds like an example of a book that's big on ideas but not heart
or, persay, character
Sent at 10:40 PM on Sunday
Jaymee: ok, time to look for alexander rybak pictures now to ease my raging soul
And that is a brief breakdown on why I really loathed this book. If you got this far, I'm sorry for subjecting you to that.
Thanks, Ay-Leen, for being so awesome!