Book: Desolation Road - Livre d'Or








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livredor
Book: Desolation Road
Monday, 03 November 2008 at 11:56 pm
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Author: Ian McDonald

Details: (c) 1988 Ian McDonald; Pub Bantam Spectra 1988; ISBN 0-553-27057-5

Verdict: Desolation Road is skilfully surreal.

Reasons for reading it: I read it five years ago, and was impressed, but got a bit impatient with the magic realism. So I thought I would give it another try, to see if I understand it better by reading it again, especially now that I'm much more familiar with modern SF. Besides, I've thought very highly indeed of some of McDonald's other work.

How it came into my hands: Some combination of lethargic_man and rysmiel.

In spite of my expectations, I don't think my impression of Desolation Road has changed very much. It still has some superbly good writing, and lots of very engaging story, and a plot that is too complex to hold in my head at once. It still falls too far on the side of being weirdly magical realist, and still has too much blood and gore, for my taste.

It was funny what I'd remembered and what I'd forgotten. I usually remember plots fairly clearly, but the multiple braided storylines were too much for me with DR. What had stuck in my mind was the opening with the greenperson, the scene with The Hand bringing the rain, and the satire of corporate life in Steeltown. But there's about fifteen other arcs and scenarios and images which are equally cool. I can't quite manage to love this book quite as much as it obviously deserves, though; I am reminded of cartesiandaemon commenting that as a kid he didn't get on well with Alice in Wonderland because he wanted the world to make sense and Caroll has no respect for that.

Still, although it's not quite my sort of book, it's very good indeed. I got completely caught up in each little fragment of story, it's an exceptionally immmersive reading experience. I think a key to not being completely lost is to regard the town as the protagonist, which explains the really huge number of characters, and perhaps gives a perspective from which you can see something like a unified plot among all the sub-threads.


Whereaboooots: Desolation Road
Moooood: okayokay
Tuuuuune: Autechre: Arch carrier
Discussion: 2 contributions | Contribute something
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hairyears: default
From:hairyears
Date:November 4th, 2008 12:35 am (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 12:35 am (hairyears's time)
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I can and often do read several books at once, so Desolation Road was more of a pleasure for me than it was, perhaps, for you; and it was pleasurable for all the reasons you have stated. But this failure to create a working and cohesive whole has robbed the individual novelettes of impact and, perhaps, reflects a fractal property of disengagement because the elements within them failed to weave together any lasting inward message; however immersive and engaging they seemed to me while I was reading them, I look back now and struggle to recall the details or the themes of any of them.
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rysmiel: child garden
From:rysmiel
Date:November 4th, 2008 07:22 pm (UTC)
20 hours after journal entry, 03:22 pm (rysmiel's time)
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I don't recall whether I told you the scene with the Hand bringing the rain was one of the readings at my wedding. (The other was Theoden's Ride.)

Some of the ways in which that universe makes more underlying sense at a rational level are in Ares Express, I do not actually like them overly much but you might find them of interest.
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