This World is Full of Monsters by Jeff VanderMeer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Reading Jeff VanderMeer is like experience a surreal rollercoaster ride
through a hallucinatory world of strange fleetings images drenched in
nature and the unreal, perhaps a bit like a Salvador Dali painting where
everything is familiar and unfaniliar at the same time. I keep reading
more of his writing in a hope of figuring it and him out, I'm still
All I can say about this story is at times I thought I
caught onto what he was actually writing about and meaning and then it
would slip from my grasp only to be replaced by something else to
tackle. The story sees a man, a writer taken over by "a story creature"
and I could stretch to interpreting this as what happens when a writer
is struggling wiht his writing, becomes so into his emerging story that
it takes over his life. The story creature sprouts and the narrator
feels "some thing growing through me.....I was awash in dreams of chlorophyll and photosynthesis" and doesn't wake for a hundred years.
narrator also encounters a "school-creature" and is "set loose as a
history lesson". Then he encounters a "single celled creature" which
acts as a life-presever in the ocean, but which is battered by the
narrator as he struggles to disentangle himself from it.
given a brother by the story creature an dsees his life though the
brother's eyes but when this brother dies he leaves "a residue that was
an anti-story....(which) would grow and accumulate...until it was too
late to do anything but turn to the left and change and
change again" On reading that part I was thinking about 'false-news'
especially when he writes "...more peope spread the anti-story until
eventually it was the story not the anti-story and there had never been an anti-story at all, or any other story to rule the Earth".
next embodiment is the "dead-shell creature" when the narrator feels he
"was his own fish" experiencing what it is like "to be other than
human" Shedding this body his final encounter is with the "story-sea"
which ultimately disgorges the narrator into the cosmos where he tells
of being "flung into the stratoshpere" as if from a "mighty trampoline",
acheiveing "escape velocity" and being expulsed "through light and dark
into dark and weightlessness....tumbling end ove end though vaccuum" as
he and his fellow travllers were "dispersed farther and
farther...headed to other worlds...to become story-creatures" There's a
circulatory sensation about this part, it is almost like a rebirthing
much like a 'bigbang' as particales are flung out to 'populate' worlds
and indeed one does feel as sense of having read an epic and is filled
with a sense of optimism at the end of the piece.
JeffVanderMeer is for me a very strange, yet very compelling, read.
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