Monday, December 8, 2014

Mondays on the Margins: Station Eleven

I'm sure it will come as no big surprise when I confess that I generally prefer my post-apocalyptic
novels a little more science-fictiony than this one. But both the cover and the plot description lured me in, and once I picked it up it became part of a string of books that has made me feel like my bad reading patch was blessedly over. Admittedly, the cover kept luring me in initially because I kept confusing it with Adam Mansbach's Go the F*ck to Sleep (go on and look, tell me I'm wrong) but I eventually managed to address this book on its own merits.

I can't quite articulate why this worked so much better for me than others of its ilk. There was something hypnotic about the way it veered from a panoramic view to a microscopic one. Some people find it contrived when a story is about a random assortment of people and their various interactions, glancing or intimate - and of course it is contrived, it's kind of supposed to be, so I've always found this criticism a little confusing. 

I found the character of Arthur, the actor, and the treatment of success and fame fascinating. I loved the Traveling Symphony and their creed "Because survival is insufficient" and the habit of referring to its members as First Tuba and Third Violin. There were a lot of characters, but I really felt that the author managed to do justice to all of them, which is no small feat. And the spectre of the all-too-human "prophet" was plenty scary for anyone who requires a little more tension than that provided by, you know, the total collapse of civilization. 

And let's just talk about the author for a second, and how it pains me ever so slightly to heap praise on her, because I am at heart a petty, petty person, and she lives in New York and writes like this, and looks like this.
Author photo by Dese'Rae L.

I mean, COME ON. 

Also, a couple of things: number one, a bunch of people get stranded in an airport because they were on the last planes that came in before everything shut down. A girl walks around asking if anyone has any of her antidepressant because she's run out, then goes into shivering horrible withdrawal and DIES. So when I told my doctor that I NEEDED to get off mine because what if there was a zombie apocalypse and I slowed down my band of survivors with my tiresome withdrawal agonies, well, my girl Emily had my back on that, am I right? Also, somebody does make a comment at one point that usually when she'd read about these scenarios, there were zombies involved and  "I'm just saying, it could be a lot worse." Which makes me forgive the author for being frigging drop-dead gorgeous and able to rock a peacoat like nobody's business in addition to being a really top-rate writer.

Really, really liked this. Probably buying it at some point.


Lynn said...

I am dying to read this book, it is at the VERY TOP of my to-read list, but I am trying to clear the backlog on my bedside table first. I should just buy it and then hold it out like a carrot so I'll get reading everything else.

EW had a story about this book a few weeks back and it was some kind of Cinderella story - like this is her third book but the first two were total flops, and so this one was barely published by the tiniest of houses, and then BAM, explosion. So we can totally hate/love her for that, too :).

Random side question: do you usually read "real" paper books, or do you have a Kindle? I got a Kindle for my birthday and I love reading on it, but mostly I wanted it so I could take advantage of all the awesome cheapo self-pub stuff on Amazon - I find it discouraging that the digital versions of megasellers are just as expensive as the paper version, so then I want the paper version as it seems like a more permanent/lendable thing for my money. What's your opinion on this?

Magpie said...

so behind in reading blogs, and what happens? two people IN A ROW have recommended this book. i'm gonna get it for my husband for christmas.

(here's the other post:

Rachael @ The Variegated Life said...

This book is on the top of my to-read pile! And silly, silly me, it’s a library book: I don’t think I’ll have the time to finish it before it’s due. And the hold list for this one at the Brooklyn Public Library is long, long, long. I waited and waited to get it. So I’m almost certain I can’t renew.

Jeanne said...

So glad we agree about how good this book is!

Steph Lovelady said...

I will keep this one in mind.

I find this kind of novel soothing when I want to imagine all my problems wiped away (and replaced with much worse ones, but still...)

Maggie said...

I recently finished this too and thoroughly enjoyed it. Not only was it NOT the first in a three-part series, the last of which will be published 5 years from now when I can't even remember how they started, but it was well written and absorbing.

slow panic said...

also she looks like she's 12 years old. ok maybe 19. whatever.

this is going on my list.