Thursday, March 8, 2012

Looking for Jake by China Mieville

After reading Un Lun Dun by China Mieville, I went to the library to search for more books by him. Bearing in mind that I'm leaving soon and can't make many (if any) more trips to the library, I decided to get a book of his short stories. I think it's because of the variety, but other than that, maybe it's because I couldn't decide on a novel.

After reading it, one thing sticks in my mind: the prose is fantastic. Especially the Teaser Tuesday quote that I shared with you. Throughout the book, the prose is understated and beautiful. In fact, the whole book feels understated. The plot is intriguing, but we are overloaded with details. We get the bare minimum (and sometimes it feels less than that), and then we're left to draw our own conclusions. All these result in stories that feel "alive" with the possibilities of what had/will happen/is happening.

Oh, and if you've read The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases, his entry "Buscard's Murrain" is inside. And I don't know if it's a sly reference to the book, but in one of the stories, called "The Ball Room", one character hallucinates that there is always one more child in the ball room than there really is, which is a bit like "Worsley's Supplement" in the book.

I think the most interesting story in the whole book would be " 'Tis the Season", where Christmas has become commercialised to the extent that things like mistletoe and eggnog (what is eggnog?) and Christmas trees have been trademarked/copyrighted. Of course, this implies that society has fallen to such a state that they've forgotten the true meaning of Christmas but only focus on the rampant commercialisation. Hmm... how familiar does this sound?

A word of warning though, the language in this book can become very explicit, with a lot of swear words (this happens most in a few stories). I cringed a few times when I had to read expletives every two or three sentences and I will never understand why it's so necessary. So, I'd recommend that only older (by older I mean late teens) readers (that hopefully won't be influenced to emulate them) read this. Plus, the stories are somehow scary, which is why a. for older readers and b. not so smart to read it before bed (I know, I tried it).

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