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Everything Under: A Novel

Everything Under: A Novel

Написано Daisy Johnson

Озвучено Esther Wane


Everything Under: A Novel

Написано Daisy Johnson

Озвучено Esther Wane

оценки:
3.5/5 (14 оценки)
Длина:
7 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Jan 15, 2019
ISBN:
9781721335190
Формат:
Аудиокнига

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Описание

An eerie, watery reimagining of the Oedipus myth set on the canals of Oxford, from the author of Fen

The dictionary doesn’t contain every word. Gretel, a lexicographer by trade, knows this better than most. She grew up on a houseboat with her mother, wandering the canals of Oxford and speaking a private language of their own invention. Her mother disappeared when Gretel was a teen, abandoning her to foster care, and Gretel has tried to move on, spending her days updating dictionary entries.

One phone call from her mother is all it takes for the past to come rushing back. To find her, Gretel will have to recover buried memories of her final, fateful winter on the canals. A runaway boy had found community and shelter with them, and all three were haunted by their past and stalked by an ominous creature lurking in the canal: the bonak. Everything and nothing at once, the bonak was Gretel’s name for the thing she feared most. And now that she’s searching for her mother, she’ll have to face it.

In this electrifying reinterpretation of a classical myth, Daisy Johnson explores questions of fate and free will, gender fluidity, and fractured family relationships. Everything Under — a debut novel whose surreal, watery landscape will resonate with fans of Fen — is a daring, moving story that will leave you unsettled and unstrung.

Издатель:
Издано:
Jan 15, 2019
ISBN:
9781721335190
Формат:
Аудиокнига

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3.5
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  • (4/5)
    Gretel does not grow up like other kids do. Her mother is different, they live on a boat, stop here and there and they even invent their own language. After the mother’s sudden disappearance, Gretel is left on her own devices and has to find a place in the world. The early fascination for words quite naturally makes her a lexicographer, a very lonesome job in which she updates dictionary entries. Even though she hadn’t been in contact with her mother for more than sixteen years, she hasn’t forgotten her and always feared that she might be the person behind a newspaper article about a fatal accident. When they are re-united, also the long lost memories of their former time together come back.Daisy Johnson’s debut novel is nominated on the Man Booker Prize 2018 longlist, itself already an honour, but even more so for an author at the age of only 28. It only takes a few pages into the novel to see why it easily could persuade the judges: it is wonderfully written, poetic and shows a masterly use of language:“I’d always felt that our lives could have gone in multiple directions, that the choices you made forced them into turning out the way they did. But maybe there were no choices; maybe there were no other outcomes.”Gretel’s has never been easily and having found her mother, seriously marked by her illness, doesn’t make it easier since she will never get answers but has to live with how her life turned out. What I found most striking was how Daisy Johnson easily transgresses boundaries in her novel: being female or male – does it actually matter? If you call a person Marcus or Margot, it’s just the same, you immediately recognize the person behind the label. Sarah and Gretel live on the water and on land, they blend in nature and don’t see a line between man and animal or plants, it’s just all there. The language itself also doesn’t know any limits; if need be, create new words to express what you want to say. And there is this creature, a fantastic being that can also exist either in Sarah’s mind or in this novel where so much is possible.Just like Gretel and her brother Hansel who were left in the woods but managed to find a way out, Gretel follows the crumbs to her mother, retraces the journey they did when she was young and with the help of the people she meets, tries to make sense of her own and especially her mother’s life.The structure is demanding since it springs backwards and forwards which I found difficult to follow at times. But the language’s smoothness and virtuosity compensate for this exceedingly.
  • (4/5)
    In the beginning I was captivated by this book.Even before I started to read I loved the sound of it, I loved the cover, I loved that the author shared her name with my grandmother ….The first chapter spoke to my heart and my head, as a woman wrote of the joy and the pain of finding a mother who had been lost to her for many years, and of living with somebody she both knew and felt was a stranger, because the passage of time, things that had happened to her, and the coming of old age had left her mentally damaged.It was profound, and it was richly, beautifully and distinctively written.“I’d always understood that the past did not die just because we wanted it to. The past signed to us: clicks and cracks in the night, misspelled words, the jargon of adverts, the bodies that attracted us or did not, the sounds that reminded us of this or that. The past was not a thread trailing behind us but an anchor. That was why I looked for you all these years. Not for answers, condolences; not to ply you with guilt or set you up for a fall. But because – a long time ago – you were my mother and you left.” I realised that I was reading one of those books that remind you that every single person you might pass in the street, however unremarkable they might look, however eccentric they may look, has a whole life story of their own, their own world view, and maybe a story to tell.The story that this book has to tell moves backwards and forwards in time, held together by a thread that follows the daughter as she searches for her mother and tries to understand what shaped her life and what made her leave her life – and her daughter – behind. She meets people who had roles to play in her mother’s life story, and ultimately she learns some of her mother’s deepest and darkest secrets.This isn’t an easy story to explain, there is a great deal that is open to different interpretations, and what happens in the story isn’t as important as what the story has to say and how it says it.It speaks of the complexity of the bond between mother and daughter; a bond that can be twisted out of shape by actions or circumstances, that allows roles to shift or even be reversed, but that can never be broken.It speaks of the importance of language, of how it can be a joy, of how words can mean so much, of how they can make things clear but they can also make things opaque; and about how a child who shared an invented language with her mother might grow up to be a lexicographer.There is a reversal, a reaction there, and this book is full of reversals and reactions.There is folklore too, and a wealth of symbolism.I loved the telling of the tale, the way pictures of lives were gradually built up from different pieces, and the way that some things came into the light while others remained in the shadows. The way that Daisy Johnson wrote, the way that she created this book, makes me want to describe her as an alchemist.I wish I didn’t have to write anything negative, but I must.One of the threads that runs through this book is the retelling of a very old story. It wasn’t wrong, but it was too literal and in the latter part of the book I couldn’t help thinking that it had compromised some of the characters and their stories and that a less literal retelling might have been much more effective.Some of the ambiguity and opacity of this book is by design; but some of it is because rather too much had been crammed into it. And I think that is why I found so much to love but I couldn’t love the book as a whole in the same way.I understand why this book has been lauded, and I might have found its failings easier to forgive if I had been a younger reader who hadn’t read many of the authors who must have infuenced her.That said, I will rush to read whatever Daisy Johnson write next; because when she finds right balance between language and ideas and story the results should be sublime.
  • (5/5)
    Everything Under by Daisy Johnson 2018 Graywolf Press 4.5 / 5.0I was about 1/3 of the way through this book, and it made no sense to me. I was going to DNF.......SO GLAD I DIDNT!Suddenly it gelled and came together and was such a shocking an brilliant story. This is a retelling of a Greek Tragedy, and is about Gretel, working as a lexicographer(updating dictionary entries).when she receives a disturbing phone call from a hospital that brings her back to memories of her childhood and her mother. She grew up with her mother on a canal boat, they made up their own language, but Gretel has not seen her since she was 16 years old. It brings her back to her time on the river and she decides to find her mother again. When she finally locates her, her mother has alzheimers, and the story becomes even better.This is a novel of gender fluidity, family identity, rough memories and the importance of connections, to our present and our past. AMAZING book...masterfully and precisely done. Very deserving of the 2018 Man Booker award shortlist.
  • (2/5)
    Different! can't say I enjoyed this book. There were too many strange mysteries which were not all clear to me by the time I had finished. Why was Sarah the way she was? Who was Fiona ? Why the obsession with transgender characters and was the incest really necessary or was it there just so the book could be said to be retelling the Oedipus greek tragedy ?????
  • (4/5)
    Ok, so I feel after finishing this book I have to dust off my English major knowledge and write a paper about symbolism, narrative structure and myths. That isn’t to say it was bad, in many ways it is brilliant, but kind of in that hit you over the head “see what I did there?” way. It is set in modern England, but follows the story of a very famous Greek myth. Since I had read reviews I was aware of it, but catching things like this is always a blindspot for me. I think I would have figured this one out though. Yet it goes beyond the myth by also being very much about a mother/daughter(s) relationship dealing with gender identity, neglect, abandonment and Alzheimers. Also, beyond the Greek myth there’s a lot of magical realism, which is another weakness for me as a reader as I get so distracted by trying to figure out what is “real”. Phew! You can see it’s a lot to fit into 265 pages!Did Daisy Johnson’s age come into play with the Man Booker judges? Possibly. It isn’t Overstory, but the writing is more impressive than The Mars Room. With that said is she playing up her youth a little much when her birthdate is the first sentence on her bio? My guess is in 10 years she drops that!
  • (4/5)
    Life on the river. I have never been a fan of mythology, so I'm also not keen on the recent trend of reusing the old fables in a modern setting. How is this not considered to be plagiarism?That said, when my book group chose this book for discussion, I decided to ignore any other influences and take it at face value. The book's main character is Gretel, who spent her childhood on the river in a boat, but was abandoned by her mother Sarah, at the age of 16. Since that time she has constantly dreaded, but half expected, a phone call requesting that she identify her mother at the morgue. Eventually Gretel decides to actively search for her, to find out why she had been abandoned and to attempt to repair the bonds between them.There is another interesting character, a young boy, who briefly becomes part of their lives, yet who may hold the secret to Sarah's whereabouts.For me, the best feature was the description of the river and life in a houseboat. Daisy Johnson conjures up a wonderful imagery, complete with the threat of the 'Bonak', who may or may not lurk in the water. Unfortunately, the book itself didn't really grab me, or, in fact, any of my book group. My final rating was 3.5, rounded up to 4, and that turned out to be the highest star rating awarded by anyone in the group.
  • (3/5)
    I started out liking this book, then as the story dragged on with an involuted chronology and various side plots, some of which are never developed, I lost patience with this author. It was ambitious for this young author to take on writing a modern day version of the story of Oedipus, so perhaps she could have left some of the side plots behind. For example, one of the primary narrators, Gretel is a lexicographer and she spends her early years raised in isolation with her mother who invents language.....that in and of itself could be the foundation for a novel. Instead that thread winds behind the simulacrum of the Oedipal story and is not fully developed.The narrative voice shifts around through the story which combined with the lack of dialogue punctuation is confusing and distracting.Perhaps in future novels the author will learn that she doesn't need to use every idea she has in one book.
  • (5/5)
    The murky forces in Everything Under confuse and intimidate us, the wide-eyed readers, just as they confuse and intimidate the characters. A boy who decides to grow up a woman has prescient gifts, which she uses until she forgets to. Another character wills a new gender for himself after a trauma, and a monster lives below the surface of the river, but can walk upright on dry land, and may want to kill. Many believe it is also intent on stealing. Be prepared for a novel that will make you alert by jumping between thread and thread; it will also keep you waiting … and doubting … and craving answers right up to the end and beyond. This is an arresting novel, in the best sense of the word. You will stop, and sit up, and wonder how its debut author, Daisy Johnson, produced such a stunning and unconventional work right out of the box. It’s a dark delight.Gretel grew up with her mother Sarah on a boat moored in a river. She is not educated in public schools until her mother abandons her when she’s a schoolgirl of 16. Gretel spends years trying to hunt her mother down, but when she finally finds her, after perhaps a further 16 years, her mother’s mind has deteriorated. Fiona, born a boy, witnesses several bulls being castrated, and chooses the female gender for herself. Eventually Fiona finds Margot (born Marcus) living with her adoptive parents. Loss, and quests to repair losses, dominate the plot here, but the plot holds a secondary place to the images and the fraught emotions. Instead, author Daisy Johnson looses tidal forces of terror, psychic ability, crypto-language, and accidental death to power her narrative along.Adult Gretel recalls episodes from her early teens, in which she imagines she’s keeping her younger self company, observing her mother through a roof portal on the boat. At these times, she imagines the bogeyman, the (physical?) distillation of all of her and her mother’s fears. This creature, legend has it, can breathe underwater and walk on land; is pale white and nearly hairless, is longer than a man is tall, has short, stubby legs, and steals things. Including children.As the book proceeds, we catch apparent glimpses of this monster from time to time, coming and going in its not-quite-visible way, in the time it takes to gasp. Characters, particularly Sarah, refer to it and warn other characters to beware. At last, however, the monster of the rivers apparently shows itself clearly enough for Sarah and Gretel to give honest, physical chase.The novel exhibits a strong sensual undertone. Genders are bent and malleated rather often as we go. Sarah discovers the truth about Marcus/Margot’s body in a flash of image and sexual activity that finishes abruptly in a gloss, like the wake of a moving boat. In fact, much of the narrative has an ethereal, out-of-focus quality, exactly appropriate to the subject. The narrative fits into a present-day framework in which mother Sarah and daughter Gretel (whom Sarah sometimes refers playfully calls Hansel) are reunited in a tense, unloving standoff. And once the monster is tracked and dealt with, Sarah’s reason for living expires.Gloomy and atmospheric, with its hauntingly raw emotional palette, Everything Under is a stunning debut which takes the reader outside herself, and deposits her squarely in the middle of its minefield. A challenging, haunting read, a raker-up of our darker moods, and yet a rewarding read nonetheless. Definitely a piece of provoke one’s mind and heart, and compliments to fiction rarely come higher than that.
  • (4/5)
    One of those books where you have no idea how it's going to get where it's going until it finally gets there. It's a Greek tragedy played out on the riverbanks of England and it kinda works. I say kinda because it may be a more successful writing challenge than a novel, but the non-linear timeline is deftly done and there is enough youthfulness about the whole thing to make me love it a little bit more than I might have done from a more established author.
  • (2/5)
    Described as “an eerie, watery reimagining of the Oedipus myth,” Everything Under certainly holds up to its watery image. At times, everything was clear and I enjoyed the setting and the characters. Too often, the water became murky and I had no idea what was going on around me. Strings of lovely written sentences danced with overwrought similes and what the hell is going on in this story anyway? Perhaps this was my own ignorance. Perhaps an understanding of mythology (of which I basically have no knowledge) is required.I wanted to like this novel, but I told myself I needed to quit. I kept pushing forward, encouraged by rare moments of clarity. I wish I would've given up because nothing improved for me. I truly did not understand 70% of this novel, and that makes me feel stupid. Maybe I am stupid. Or maybe my attention just waned too many times to piece together a narrative. It's difficult to discuss a book I didn't understand, so I'll just leave it at that.