I bought this on a whim at the Miami Airport Borders. They had a zombie endcap (how awesome is that?) and I loved the cover. It was fun to read on the plane but after I was half way through the whole thing was like a repetitive comedy sketch.
I found this book relentlessly grim, which is saying a lot as I have a pretty high tolerance for these things. I understand what Butler was trying to argue here but that was so dominant it broke the spell of the book for me. Also, the narrator's philosophies were transparent and unconvincing, and yet I felt we were supposed to be won over by them. Not one of my favourite books by Butler!
I read this when I was 20 or so, and it seemed a historical document, something I was indebted to, as if she were speaking only to women who'd written before me, before the third wave of feminism, so confident was I that things had changed.
I've been writing for 20 years now. After two decades of sacrifice and focus, writing "deformed and twisted" books while watching only certain women's voices and stories being rewarded with a broad readership, Woolf's argument is entirely necessary, "...to work, even in poverty and obscurity, is worth while."
I was completely seduced by this world and the character of Bellis. This book had a sensitivity and love as well as a play of symbology missing from other Mieville books I have read. He's utterly redeemed himself with this one, one of the best books I've read I a while. My only complaint would be that some of the prose is over written and his editor should ban him from using the words cosset, jabber, judder...there are others, obviously author favourites which break the spell of narrative and act as placeholders for more precise diction which is never given.
One of those books everyone read, which means I should have avoided it but I love books about the sea. I would have to say this is one of my favourite books: full of wonder, clever meta narrative and page-turning freak outs.
I enjoyed this book immensely. All good science fiction should read like a travelogue. The reverse should be true but rarely is-- with the exception of this book. A riveting strangeness-- looking through this mirror darkly at the "peace dividend" at the end of the Cold War makes for paradoxically giddy yet sobering reading. The book is full of wonder and compassionate alienation-- the portrait of a stark landscape and its people haunted by its Gulag'ed, Stalinist past is unforgettable.
This book is an invaluable tool for the writer engaged in new media channels-- how to negotiate them for collaboration, promotion and production while keeping a balance so they do not infringe on your imagination and energies.
This book is generous in its transparencies. What most published authors refuse to reveal for fear of being vulnerable, VanderMeer shares with wit and compassion.
Without sounding too cheezy, I found this book to be medicine for my wounded writer's soul. To know other writers I admire have endured the same pain and bad luck was infinitely reassuring. While reading it I realized I hadn't cried or laughed while reading a book in a long time, and reading this I did both.
Despite its overwritten moments, I loved this book. I am not a big fan of Ballad, having read the companion to this, The Drowned World and Crash-- I found both cold, alienating and hard to get through. But this novel is full of engaging characters put in fascinating situations. It is very cinematic and convincing. In the second half, I couldn't put it down. Now I see these thirsty characters every time I go to Waitrose or stand in line at the post office. How we would not help each other.