I suck at book reviews almost as must as I at music reviews. Perhaps it is due to the fact that I experience a good book the way I experience music. I can whip out academic book reviews like nobodies' business but trying to write about a book that I love...much harder.
Instead of doing the much needed packing, cleaning, etc, necessary for our move, I spent the whole evening reading End of the World Blues by Jon Courtenay Grimwood. I picked this book up on a total whim at the library. Set in Japan and London, it is the story of an AWOL solider haunted by his multiple pasts...and the story of Lady Neku...a person with her own complicated pasts. I graped it because it was set in Japan, and something about the back reminded of me Gibson's Necromancer which had a profound influence on me at 20.
Of course I checked this out in the midst of my thesis drama, and it sat with only a few pages read for three weeks. I almost returned it on its due date but on a whim renewed it. And then I started last night...and read between packing boxes, late into the weehours of the morning, and yes finished it at 2:30 am this morning.
This book restores my faith in scifi although I am not sure if this book qualifies as scifi. It is a book that weaves between realities and universes without ever letting the reader in on the joke so to speak. But more importantly, it's beautiful, challenging, and provoking. I left the book with a kind of sigh, a wow, and a longing for more. I had forgotten how a good scifi books moves into the futures that could await. These worlds always set me to plotting my own stories.
You see the nineteen year old me wanted nothing more than to be a writer. I used to write these horrible scifi, fantasy, just strange stories in my journals. I even submitted one of them as part of my application process to the UMF BFA program. I was rejected. And after that rejection, I stopped writing...at least fiction. You see the rejection was harsh. I received someone else's acceptance letter. I was crying with joy when I saw the acceptance letter, and then in despair when I realized the name wasn't mine. It was horrible. And I took it as a sign from the universe that I was meant to write fiction. I turned my efforts towards academia and succeeded there in ways I never did as a fiction writer. Oh, I wrote some fiction, and even published in a little literary rag in Farmington but I never ever thought of myself as a writer after that moment.
When I read something like this...I don't know...it makes me dream again.
A quote for E: "It was hot, the air was sour, and London stank of fried onions, too much aftershave, diesel, and dog shit, maybe it always did....The sun was out and people were smiling, as the city changed into something more relaxed and less English which it always did at any pretense of good weather."