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Perdido Street Station

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  • Perdido Street Station

    Sprawling, vast, beautiful, challenging, important...

    I hate to contribute to the hyperbole surrounding this novel, but it really is all that and more.

    Mieville has captured elements of Dickens and Peake and put them in a world that breathes and stinks and sweats. New Crobuzon is alive, but not because Mieville throws vast details at the reader, hoping some of it sticks. Instead, the feeling of the city-state creeps and builds as the novel progresses.

    Similarly, the characters are three-dimensional and revealed slowly, and never at the expense of the story, which involves terrifying predators and smarmy politics, but also love, hope, science, and humanity.

    It's not perfect--some moments are underdeveloped and other overly so. However, the plot was coherent and mostly tight, and the payoffs, in terms of both characters and story were rewarding. I felt like I had survived an earthquake when I finished it.

    Highly recommended.

  • #2
    Thanks, Doc. Nice review. Aside from the prose, which was what initially got my attention when reading the book, the thing about it that struck me was the "density" of observation, circumstantial detail, and characterization of the book. It is not redundant with physical action, but a great deal happens.

    I understand why I've seen Miأ©ville refer to Peake and Harrison. There's an intensity of realism that approaches surrealism, at times.

    The prose is at times poetic in texture, but at times seems a bit overwrought. Still, I thought it an excellent novel.

    I'm reading The Scar at home, in my spare time right now. More of the same.

    LSN

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    • #3
      The character names scream Peake. For instance, someone named Rutgutter could have lived in Gormenghast.

      I think "density" is an apt descriptive word. Mieville packs the storyline and characters, but uses relatively few words to show all of it. It strikes me as odd that I say that about a 700 page novel.

      Too bad you don't have a solid block of time to read The Scar. Some novels I can pick up and put down where my time dictates, but I'm not sure I could do that with one of Mieville's doorstoppers.

      Apparently Iron Council is fantastic, too...

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Doc
        Too bad you don't have a solid block of time to read The Scar. Some novels I can pick up and put down where my time dictates, but I'm not sure I could do that with one of Mieville's doorstoppers.
        That's okay. It's not a problem. I can remember and switch contexts pretty well. I also read relatively quickly, so it shouldn't take more than a day or two extra, taken piecemeal.

        Originally posted by Doc
        Apparently Iron Council is fantastic, too...
        I've heard good things. It's in the queue, but not at the head, unfortunately. I think it's about fifteen or twenty down. Probably in late June or so.

        LSN

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        • #5
          Maybe you can put together a review of The Scar when you finish reading it?

          As an aside, many people know MM has a good relationship with Mieville. Mike said something to the effect of "he's likely to become a rock star kind of author despite himself," referring to how he graciously deals with the critical acclaim, industry push, and pretty devoted following he is cultivating. I think Mike compared him to Neil Gaiman in that respect.

          Good to know that a decent person is getting the attention, but the irony of it happening to a Marxist...

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Doc
            Maybe you can put together a review of The Scar when you finish reading it?
            If I get the time, and the spirit moves me, I'll see what I can do. I'll need to see, at the end, if I still like the book. On principle, I refuse to review books I didn't care for.

            As for the Marxist angle, I've thought about that before, and agree that the potential for a large success for such an individual does indeed possess a certain amusing irony. I don't think it's a big deal, of course.

            To quote John Kenneth Galbraith, "Under Capitalism, man exploits man. Under Communism, it's just the opposite." :lol:

            LSN

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