Saturday 29 August 2020

Short Story Review: This World is Full of Monsters by Jeff VanderMeer

This World is Full of Monsters 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 trying.

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.

The 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.

He is 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".

His 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 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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