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There is a story of a teacher, a specialist who commands three times the normal rate for running a classroom. The start of the story is seemingly harmless, and then it progresses steadily to a horrific experience. Another begins and quickly becomes surreal, however the change is so subtle you might read it more than once to be sure it all is not a metaphor as opposed to a severe form of retribution.
Other stories focus on a narrower field of a person or two, and how presumptions that are made almost unconsciously can have life altering effects. This latter theme may not sound new, however the setting for his story and those that inhabit it are definitely not what would be called a traditional venue.
Mr. Faber is about as far from the traditional as a writer can get, and still be understood. "Under The Skin", pushed the envelope for me to grasp what he had in mind, but it nevertheless was powerful and unsettling. His workings on the fringes of his imagination seem to naturally produce a story of a most interesting Universe. However with at least one tale he seems to condemn another extreme branch of expression without compromise. I agree with what he had one character write, whether the Author agrees, who knows?
Like nothing you have probably read.
Faber's collection of short stories further displays his writing skills. I am fascinated by how he can develop a story and its characters in so few words. I totally recommend this collection of short stories. They are original, thought provoking and entertaining. If you are sick of the same old stuff, Faber is the author for you. I can not wait to see what he has to offer us next!
I pre-ordered this current edition of Faber's short stories and it arrived a day ago. Now that I'm half-way through, I have to correct myself in mid-flight of enjoyment and say that he's a talent partaking of all possible directions of the writer's craft -- unchallenged by any theme or context.
The reviewer cited in Publisher's Weekly has led too narrow a life -- or has too confined a brainpan! When Faber can leap from a sentient and egregious bit of anatomy [Nina's Hand] to a self-defeating family on a mission of dead-end science, self-destruction and deception [The Crust of Hell] -- from a painful single day's tale seen through the eyes of an unknowing kid brother [Somewhere Warm and Comfortable] to the crisis-solving anodyne cum mother and teacher in the feature story [Some Rain Must Fall] -- Faber is the sort of young talent I will worry about and watch for in the coming years. I hope he can steer clear of type-casting editors and agents, writer's block and, of course, TV and screenplays. The latter of which are bound to land in his lap when some improbable director spies out his work and wants to cram it into whichever medium. It can be done; but, the world of that sort of production is more dangerous than any desert in the Horn of Africa.
Well, this is a Friday. My day to listen to music and read. Faber has made it the very best Friday since my semi-retirement a year ago.
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From the reader's perspective, the first part of the book puts us in the position of detective. Who is Isserly, and why is she driving the roads of Scotland looking for men? Without revealing anything of the plot (this is one book that you should enter completely uninformed), Faber lays down a series of clues and information that easily lead us into creating an image of this woman and her motivations -- only to have this image completely exploded when the revelation comes. In some ways, it reminded me of the movie "The Sixth Sense": an interesting, compelling story that gets turned upside-down, forcing us to confess that we were given all the information we needed, but we came to the wrong conclusions anyway.
After the key revelations, the remainder of the story skirts the edges of simplistic, moralistic allegory. However, the author appears to be aware of this risk, and turns the remainder of the book into a serious study of the main character's key conflict. His writing is fluid, descriptive and highly imaginative throughout, so our interest in the story and the characters is maintained despite some of the heavy emotion and inner turmoil.
I realize that this review may sound a bit obtuse, simply because I am so concerned about not revealing details that may ruin a new reader's enjoyment and astonishment. Go out and read this book yourself -- it's worth it.
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Victorian, THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE most assuredly is not. Whatever I was expecting from this novel, it was not the graphic and often repulsive sex scenes that I got. And when the plot isn't reading like soft porn, it's drowning in details. I managed to read the first 300 pages word for word, but after that it was either start skimming or give up, so I started skimming. And although the last third of the book was a pleasant surprise -- the characters become more fully developed, the plot takes some interesting turns, and the sickly sweet tone of the first half is focused into something much sharper -- I was still considerably relieved to reach the end.
Some other disappointments I would note: Several of the characters die without apparent reason, perhaps simply because Michel Faber tired of them. But neither did I miss them, since I never enjoyed any of the people in the first place, although I did grow closer to Sugar near the end. William positively disgusted me and I rue the 500 pages I spent in his company. And Faber's interesting technique of addressing the reader personally as "you" and tossing in little side comments (welcome comic relief, if you ask me) is lost about halfway through and unfortunately seldom reappears.
Least you think I am totally down on this novel, there were a couple of interesting points. The time period and its people are well researched and depicted with a sort of graphic honesty that's a lot like a car accident -- you'd like to look away, but you can't. Bodily functions are common in these pages. Dirt and grime and pain and insanity abound. Nothing escapes the author's probing finger. Nothing is too sordid to discuss.
I cannot recommend this novel. I found it irritating at best and regret the time I wasted on it. Still, THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE is notable for its honesty, crude is that may be.
I adored this book. I know we're not supposed to quibble with other reviewers, but I didn't find it the least bit repetitive and I was involved from the very first page, and I stayed involved to the end.
It reminded me of Greg Matthews' historicals -- Heart of the Country and Power in the Blood -- with vivid but realistic characters who don't do what you expect but who act in character. Strong, fearless and dangerous people.
This book will spoil me for other historicals, I'm sure. It's going to be hard to match the flavor and vitality of William, Agnes, Sugar, Sophie, the whores and the servants. And Emmeline! My gosh didn't she surprise you a few times! What great characters. I don't expect Faber will revisit them. Anyone doing historical fanfic? :-)
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