PositiveBookforumA fable-like work of speculative fiction, Klara and the Sun asks to be read as a companion to Never Let Me Go ... It is both logical and a touch self-parodic for a novelist whose characters often resemble automata to write an entire book in the voice of a machine imitating human speech patterns ... Instead of a decisively postapocalyptic future, Ishiguro has sketched the contours of one we can imagine ourselves drifting into not too many years from now ... The dystopia of Klara and the Sun, like the one in Never Let Me Go, seems to have defaulted to whiteness. The occasional appearance of a \'black-skinned\' person is unusual enough for Klara to find it worth noting; the only presumably nonwhite presence of note is the family housekeeper, who speaks in conspicuously broken English. Matched by the monotony of Klara’s telling, the drab homogeneity of this world becomes part of its banal horror ... It is hard not to wonder why a state-of-the-art piece of machine intelligence would bear an understanding of heavenly bodies that seems to date from some ancient civilization. Perhaps the point is that robots, if they are hard-wired to imitate humans, will also succumb to magical thinking ... In Never Let Me Go the persistent understatement of the narration is crucial to the book’s power—a slow-dawning horror seeps between the lines and lingers well beyond its conclusion. But Klara and the Sun lacks any equivalent tension: its setting proves to be a generic dystopia, and Klara, even for this master of withholding, may be too blank a slate, incapable of evasion or repression ... The shadows are where meaning typically resides for Ishiguro, and in this book, they are simply too well illuminated.
RaveBookforumGreenwell is a writer unusually attuned to paradox and reversal ... Less a sequel than an expansion in both physical and mental space, Cleanness repeats, and makes more intricate, the triptych structure of What Belongs to You ... The narrator’s quest for self-knowledge seems to intensify in moments of intimacy, and Greenwell’s erotic prose is notably explicit and lucid, shorn of decorous metaphor ... Greenwell depicts—and addresses head-on—a present in which the pornographic imagination has thoroughly colonized our image banks. At a time when videos of every conceivable kink and fetish are freely available, there is something both quaint and thrilling about Greenwell’s implicit argument that the most meaningful intervention when it comes to representations of the sex act lies in the realm of written pornography ... Greenwell’s sex scenes exert an incongruous meditative attention on experiences characterized by impulse and abandon. In so doing, they effectively slow down time, dilating the moment to accommodate philosophical reverie and the intricate workings of erotic logic. Few writers have ever illuminated quite so clearly the role of anticipatory fantasy in sex as well as the often divergent reality ... It is to be expected that a book this rigorously confined to a single headspace would foster a mood of overwhelming loneliness. The narrator tries repeatedly to assuage this feeling, and his attempts, whether effective or not, are always moving.
Haruki Murakami, trans. Jay Rubin & Philip Gabriel
RaveBookforum… Murakami’s most elaborate and sustained riff yet on themes he has reworked for thirty years: solitude, thwarted desire, Japan’s (and humankind’s) latent violent streak, the shadow of mortality, the shape of time, the elusiveness of the self, the malleability of reality … 1Q84 induces a quintessentially Murakamian vertigo—the past seeps into the present, cause and effect become scrambled, and the characters are swept along by forces beyond their control and comprehension. The most potent of these forces is fiction. 1Q84 is rife with stories-within-stories, and some of these stories, once told, can warp reality, or literally change the world … The microfictions planted throughout 1Q84 are like little time bombs, detonating not on impact but later, unexpectedly, as they take on new resonances or intersect with other narratives. More than any Murakami novel to date, 1Q84 is fiction about the power of fiction—a metafictional experiment that has the effect of a spell.
RaveThe Village VoiceHaddon's goal is to filter the confusion of adolescence and family betrayal through an autistic point of view. Or unfilter, as the case may be. ‘I see everything,’ Christopher explains, and The Curious Incident (presented as a firsthand account of his detective work, written under a teacher's supervision) imagines the frustrating paradox of an autistic person's world, where sensory intake is heightened but the capacity to process information cruelly diminished … The Curious Incident is a radical experiment in empathy—the mysterious mental state that it so snugly inhabits is one of interpersonal shutdown and emotional illiteracy, characterized precisely by the failure of empathy … The sadness of this fundamental disconnect never dissipates; through the domestic upheavals and tempered optimism of the conclusion, our hero keeps his distance because he has no other option, an unwitting hardass to the end.