I can see why some people praise this book so highly, and I can see how it was such a hit at the time it was published, even without the iconic movie starring the always-crazy Jack Nicholson. The imagery is compelling, as is the unreliable voice of the (?) paranoid schizophrenic narrator through which we experience the events. It works well as a rather heavy-handed political/social allegory, but I found myself unable to get past the unapologetic racism and misogyny presented as a fun way to break from societal norms and expectations.
I was much more interested in the audio “extra” at the end of the story: an NPR interview by Terry Gross of the author, who explains the origins of the story, his first-hand experiences as a subject of the CIA’s LSD experiments conducted on students in the 1960’s and as an aide in a psychiatric hospital.
Audiobook via Audible. The author’s unpolished reading of his own work really fits the story.
This was a weird little book, and I enjoyed it very much, but I’m also glad that it’s just novella sized because I doubt I could have lasted through 300 pages of Jackson’s experimental writing. It was not an easy read, because nothing is very clear, least of all what’s real vs. what’s going on inside Natalie’s head. I had to take it in small sips, but what delightful little sips those were. What starts out as slyly mocking and funny, eventually becomes a little sad and terrifying, especially once
I realized that it’s this very tendency of Natalie’s to critically examine everyone and everything about her, viewing it/them as characters in a story, imagine them in other storylines, etc., that isolates her from the ability to form any kind of meaningful relationship and contributes to her crushing loneliness and downward spiral.
At least, that’s my interpretation of what it all means. I could be completely wrong, because this is one weird little book.
Vintage paperback copy, found in a $5 (edit) $2 bundle of gothics I got at Half Price Books. A real gem in a pile of poop, if you will. My copy is a 50 cent Ace Star with delightfully musty yellowed pages and this fantastic cover:
10/11/17 12/191 pg.
10/11/17 39/191 pg
10/13/17 84/191 pg
I got far enough into the audio to discover two things: (1) The writing is beautiful and moving, and (2) the nonlinear storytelling structure is not well suited to audio.
I can already tell that this is a book that I will need to read in a print format, because I will get quickly frustrated with trying to understand events as I'm carried along on the audio. Plus, I need to pay closer attention than I normally do with audiobooks, because I usually multitask with housework, yardwork, shopping, driving, etc.
So, I'm reshelving the audio and putting this on my wishlist for a bound version, because I don't want to spoil what is going to be a really good book by experiencing it in a frustrating format.
The audio is read by the author. She's obviously not a professional performer, and has an unusually soft, breathy voice, but she does read with an emotion that I like. Once I am ready to try again with the bound version, I think I'll try experiencing this like I did when I was a little girl just learning to read, and play the audio while I read along in the book.