I'll be more than happy to join the discussion of Slade House, but actually, I won't be able to for a few days - I'm still only at the second chapter. I'm deliberately pacing myself so I can finish the book on the right day.
I'm using it as the Halloween equivalent of an Advent calendar, it's a very enjoyable experience. I'm at page 117 now (taking breaks to make the chapter last all day), and so far I've noticed a couple of things (be warned, spoilers for The Bone Clocks and page 1-117 of Slade House) :
-Chapter one (The Right Sort): It's been a while since I read the original Twitter version of this, but it seems to me that Nathan's autistic tendencies are more outspoken in this version, which I think adds a nice angle to the chapter - but then, I've always liked Mitchell's generally very decent treatment of that issue, so I guess it's only to be expected that I like to see it appear here as well.
-Chapter two (Shining Armor): The reappearance of Rita was genuinely frightening!
-p. 73: "Vyvyan Ayrs drilled a hole in the roof, once. I climbed out of the hole and he strapped me onto his hang glider, and we flew over the English Channel to Zedelghem." A reference to the composer of Cloud Atlas fame, and the first direct reference I noticed in the book. It makes sense that Rita, a fan of classical music, would hallucinate about a semi-obscure composer who died half a century ago.
-p. 74-75: "No," she sneers. "First they hid me away in Buckingham Palace; then a fortune-teller's booth on Brighton Pier; then Willy Wonka's..." A subtle reference to The Bone Clocks' third chapter (The Wedding Bash), in which Aoife Brubeck gets lost on Brighton Pier.
-p. 89: Fern Penhaligon, probably the sister of Jonny Penhaligon from The Bone Clocks, and descendant of a character from The Thousand Autumns.
-p. 116-117: Oh, this is getting interesting! More background info on Jonny Penhaligon's suicide - perhaps Mr. Anyder doesn't hold as much of the responsibility as we previously thought? It certainly seems that Jonny had much to deal with even before he got involved. I like Fern's motivations.
If you have any thoughts about the first three chapters, Likefireworks, I'd be very interested to hear them! Or the rest of the book, of course - just make sure to warn me which spoilers I can open, and which I can't yet.
I finished it a couple of hours ago - in real-time, I like to imagine. I'll edit this post to include my opinions and observations in a moment, but I'll first edit the thread title to make it clear that there's spoilers here - that way we won't have to worry about that. For now, suffice it to say that I'm pretty excited about the last chapter!
Time for me to join the discussion. Just as a precaution, I'm going to spoiler my observations, but the rest of you are welcome not to, as I've modified the thread title.
As I said above, I'm excited about the last chapter. Seeing Marinus, particularly in an incarnation we recognize, is always a treat. I particularly savoured the wait for her revealing herself, and when it finally came, I was not let down in the least. You know which line I'm referring to. I was expecting a chapter narrated by Bombadil - the actual Bombadil, who's still an intriguing character to me. I hope to read about more 'astronauts' in the future, if possible in greater detail, but I can see how the chapter really wouldn't have worked from any other perspective than Norah's.
I think Bombadil's family relations - his mother and the divorced Microsoft rep, namely - sound worthy of a later appearance or mention. 'Milk and Honey' also sounds like something Mitchell would call a chapter in a book, or perhaps a short story. Maybe that'll be expanded on at some point.
Even with good arguably prevailing, the ending was genuinely spooky! So now we're on the lookout for a character born in May or June 2016, last name al-Awi, parents Jamal and Sue, although he'll possibly want to go by some modified version of the name of Norah Grayer. As far as I can remember, no such character has appeared in any of Mitchell's previous books, but I know how very minor the characters he chooses to expand on can be, so who knows? Anyway, if such a character surfaces, that'll be someone who's out to get Marinus - and she/he doesn't even know. Speaking of which, were anyone else put in mind of a particular line from The Princess Bride when Norah made her vow? I found it very reminiscent, although not so much that I'd take it as an intentional reference.
I didn't feel that the storyline from Bombadil's twitter profile ever really got resolved - perhaps that's something else we have to look forward to, or perhaps it'll never be told in any greater detail than it was there.
This is the first book since Cloud Atlas not to have had a single, clear protagonist (I presume, not having read Thousand Autumns yet - starting on that one tonight!).
I like what Mitchell does with small-scale symbolism, such as the irony in having a song called 'Safe from Harm' playing in the background in Oink Oink when the protagonist is, obviously, anything but. It's the kind of coincidental symbolic irony you come across in real life, which happens only to be symbolic because you decide it is. It feels both aesthetically pleasing and realistic to me - a rare combination, but Mitchell pulls it off. Some pretty skillful foreshadowing is also present, i.e. the first appearance of Fred Pink, and the first mention of the al-Awis.
As great as I think it is, I'm worried about the marketing consequences of this book. It's Mitchell's shortest released book to date, which could lead a newcomer to believe that it's the most accessible; which, frankly, I wildly disagree with. I read the book under pretty much the ideal circumstances: From the 27th-31st of October, and after having read The Bone Clocks. If I hadn't known Marinus from TBC, though, the ending would've felt like an extremely bad case of Deus ex Machina. I can imagine newcomers to Mitchell's writing being put off by this book, and that's a shame, because having read TBC, it's a really great supplemental story. And as his shortest yet, I suspect that many new readers may misguidedly try to start with this one, spoiling not only their experience of Slade House, but also elements of The Bone Clocks and, possibly, Thousand Autumns.
What did you think? Anything I've overlooked (clearly there is, but what things did you notice? )? Any thoughts on the details I mentioned?
Post by Perfidious Porpoise on Jan 31, 2016 10:55:03 GMT
I'm wondering what to make of the recurring character of the jogger in orange and black. In particular, I'm rereading Black Swan Green at the moment and was struck by the part where Dean Moran tells Jason about the tunnel "haunted by an engineer in orange overalls with a black stripe where the train ran over him."