Mr. Ceridwen once had a very large public tizzy about how irritating this book was to him, I'm sure made all the more irritating because I had also just publicly declared my enduring love for Mr. Miéville. That was probably like a dozen years ago, which is apparently how long it takes me to get over my amusement at Mr Ceridwen's annoyance. Far be it from me to actually read the book in question, because I might actually agree with him, and then a very good source of bickering would be ruined. That whole anecdote is probably more illuminating of my marriage dynamics than I would prefer.
But then it turns out I earnestly have no idea what his problem was! The eponymous cities of The City and the City are Besźel and Ul Qoma, which are something like Buda and Pest: cities divided by a river and topography, but ultimately bound together into Budapest. Except entirely opposite of that: Besźel and Ul Qoma occupy the same land, the same space. People can be walking down a street in one city and dodging people in the other. But this seeing and in seeing cannot be done obviously or delibrately; the cities unsee each other. The borders are fiercely maintained even though they are diffuse and internal.
The plot follows Tyador Borlu, a detective from Besźel, who picks up a murder case that appears to be a matter of breach: her murder appears to puncture the inviolate membrane between the city and the city. Breach is one of those things that terrify the denizens of those cities, and it's hard to tell if it's social prescription or semi-mystical woo-woo -- and this is what irritates Mr. Ceridwen. Borlu in his detective plot moves through both cities and between to find the girl's killer.
My take is more ¯_(ツ)_/¯. Why not both? The social contract is rigidly enforced in just about any city, be that city authoritarian or boho. People have hundreds of internal rules -- thousands -- about who they interact with and how, who they see and unsee. Its both entirely mundane and semi-mystical. To misquote a favorite poet: we live in imaginary gardens with real toads in them.
The China Conspiracy by P M Terrell is an awesome political thriller that kept me reading beginning to end. I can see why her stories are so good. Take a gander at her bio and you will see what I mean.
The ominous opening and a bang bang has me riveted to the pages. P M Terrell wasted not ime in sharing the action and mystery.
Bu the time I got to Chapter 5, all the red flags are flying, waving madly. Am I right to be so suspicious of…well, you didn’t think I was going to tell ya did ya? lol
P M Terrell’s writing sets a pace that draws me so deeply into her world, I sometimes forget I am reading fiction.
Kit’s husband, is he a bad guy? Well, definitely not in the way I thought.
I love the way Kit handles her personal situation. Strong, dignified and FINAL! Have I made you curious yet?
It is P M Terrell’s ability to create such wonderful characters, with the writing and dialogue, that makes me feel as if I know them personally.
Danger, politics, conspiracy, traitors, greed, power hungry politicians, rigged elections…it almost makes me feel as if I am reading current events, even though it was published in 2003.
I am on page 323 of a paperback and my heart fell. Was her trust misplaced? Was he duped? The book is 349 pages and I wonder how P M Terrell is going to end the story in a way that will make me happy. BUT, I have no fear…well, almost no fear. She has never let me down.
If you are a conspiracy fan, which I sure am, this is a must read. I also take it as a dire warning of current and future events revolving around our most basic right…the right to vote.
P M Terrell kept me going from beginning to end. It was white knuckled reading that not only blew me away and scared the crap out of me, it pissed me off. Now that is what I call a great book. Emotions bubbling to the surface as I read through the pages…what more can I ask for?
I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of The China Conspiracy by P M Terrell.
MY REVIEWS FOR P M TERRELL
This book... oh dear. It's quite good and it's very hard to explain. What starts off seeming like a noir-ish crime novel or police procedural opens up and allows the reader to sort of play with what's happening in the reality of the story. Two city-states, somewhere in Europe, live within each other. Citizens from one are not allowed to "see" the citizens from the other - even if they're on the same street! It's not like Berlin used to be. There's no wall, just a map and laws and a history of strife between the two cities.
So is it fantasy, or is it a meditation on our current cities, where we go around "unseeing" all sorts of things? Miéville leaves this question wide open for the reader. I started to think about all of the ways we divide ourselves in our cities and how the entire novel could be a metaphor for things like race, class, religion, politics, you name it. Everywhere in real life, there are places some people go and places other people don't. There are things we see - even celebrate - and other things we pretend not to see, and put out of mind almost automatically. We're very good at dividing ourselves up in so many ways. Citizens in one city know not to tread on "the other city."
The book takes us into a mystery about the cities themselves, all while continuing along the crime narrative. It's sort of brilliant, and very different from any other book I've read before. It's fantastical, but it could be quite realistic. I have to wonder, once again, why some authors (Miéville, Neil Gaiman, even Stephen King) are not even considered in these lists of "important" books. King appears sometimes, but far too often I think these writers tend to be shunted off into "genre writing" and hence considered simply not worthy of being noted by certain publications and literary circles. I'd love someone to tell me why this book is somehow less inventive/important than Thomas Hardy's 8th or 10th book? (Not just Hardy - I'm thinking now of those lists of books that have changed or disrupted the novel's form or literary prizes that always seem to go to the same people or if they go to a newcomer, we're told it's because the book is somehow inventive. I've read the most recent Pulitzer. I liked it, but it wasn't more inventive than this one.) When I read a book like this one, all I see is invention and imagination and certainly breaking the usual laws of novels.
I've tried to read The City & The City before and was distracted by work and life. I'm thrilled I finally found the right time for me and this book because it is fantastic - in every sense of the word.