Summary (courtesy of GoodReads): Thirty-six cities. Thirty-six stories of obsession. From ancient Thebes to present day Berlin, these little portraits of humans superimposed on their suburban environment are corroding treats thrown together in a past-modern beaker, landmark tales of love in the metropolis. A round-the-world tour of craving and decadence.
And here's what I thought: I had been contacted by this author to see if I'd be interested in reviewing this book. I thought it sounded like a different sort of book, so I agreed. And yes, this is a different sort of book. The description above says "thirty-six stories", so you'd think this would be a book of short stories. Well, they are stories, and some of them are quite short (like, two pages). The writing is evocative, but at times, I wondered what I was reading about. I mean --- what was happening in the particular story? Reading this book is like going to a gallery and looking at a series of different photographs --- one after another, your eye tries to discern just what you're looking at, trying to make sense of it .... and then you discover you really have no idea of what the photograph is really of. Does that make sense? I found some of these stories to be oddly compelling. Some of them are both grotesque and elegant. Disturbing, and mind-sticking. And if you think you might know one of these places , you might read and story and realize .... perhaps not. Definitely a thought-provoking book.
And a small note to some readers, who are used to my reviews of YA fiction ---- if you choose to pick up this slim book, please be aware that there is an underlying eroticism to many of these stories. I wouldn't say that they aren't for younger readers .... but I'm not sure if they're completely appropriate, either. It would depend on the reader. But I did want to mention that although this is a small book, and the stories rather short, they are far from simple. If you'd like to know more, here's the link to the publisher -- and if you'd like to know more about the author, he has a really interesting blog. I did some noodling around on there, and was just as intrigued as I was by this book.
Example of some writing: "The softest things are often prone to disturb the senses the most violently; and nerves are made up of memories, reflections, hidden breaths, like feathers, around which smiling and moveable lids of skin close. Spongy. Supple. Like so many gargoyles, turned from stone into undemanding furry fabric." (p. 79)
First sentences: "At 10:00 am yesterday, Katia Kaltsas, aged 28, was arrested in possession of the hand of a statue dating back 2,500 years. The object had been stolen earlier this year from a private collection and was located amongst the suspects negligees."
Thoughts on the cover: An interesting juxtaposition of what look like Roman ruins, and a factory, with a dark and speckled sky. Definitely a good choice for this book.
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