The statute of limitations on this post has expired!
Note the date: This post was originally published in 2006 and is kept here largely for archival purposes. Anything older than three years may contain ideas and opinions for which such a gap of time has likely reshaped, altered, softened, re-jigged, or otherwise changed those ideas and opinions to a state incongruent with my current existence.
I mentioned I picked up a copy of City of Saints and Madmen if for no other reason because it is exactly the opposite of something like The Davinci Code, in that it is neither (a) in the public spotlight (b) popular (c) well known (d) formulaic or even (e) sensical. I spent a fragemented four hours last night reading through the first third of the novel, — and I only relate as “fragmented” because I had to stop every once in a while to let my brain work through the complex imagery of an amazingly dark imagined world complete with savage politics and killer mushrooms.
In two words: It’s weird.
Really, I don’t usually gush about books, but this one has hit me a little like a bowling ball hits a creamy whipped potato salad. I’m caught running through the subtlies in my mind, working them over in my brain like a popcorn kernel stuck in my gum, a mental irritation left over after a tasty bowl of crunchy, salty goodness. What does that mean, really? It’s dark, but in so many decieving ways that you don’t even realize how dark until you’re stewing the details a few hours later and the nails-on-chalkboard frustration of the narrative hits you full on. But just parts. And just here and there between the facetious humour and tongue-in-cheek politcal allusion. Like I said: complex. And anything short of rewriting those bottomless pits of complexity here would be an injustice.
Would I recommend it? Maybe. If you’re looking for something cuddly like a Jane Austen novel, or something disambiguous like an episode of American Idol, bugger off right now. Your brain is not ready to handle this. This is horror fantasy comedy: everyone dies, there are no happy endings, and if only a fraction of what you read seeps into your subconsious mind, you will still lucidly dream about humanity’s bitter, bloody end impaled on a stake in the centre of town as laughing cartoon characters from your childhood chant lord of the flies style lymericks to the sky.
But, if your mind is ready to be wrapped in a soft cloth and smacked against a brick wall “because it builds character”, I’ll have a lend to pass along in a week or so.