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Celebrant [Paperback]

Michael Cisco
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: 12.00
Price: 11.76 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

14 Jun 2012
Antic world-traveller, deKlend, is in search of the holy city of Votu, where time runs backwards and gangs of scavenging Pigeon Girls and Rabbit Girls are locked in strange rivalries. Celebrant is a sweeping fantasy of pilgrimage and reincarnation, and a travellers' guide to altered states of geography. The lives of the characters in this dream-adventure intersect like the architecture of an Escher woodcut.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 342 pages
  • Publisher: Chomu Press (14 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907681159
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907681158
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.3 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 644,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This review is based on an advance copy I received from the publisher.

It's not often that the prospect of writing a review makes me positively nervous.
It's not that it's bad--far from it!
In fact this is a brilliantly written book. Frankly, it needs to be, because the concept and execution is so complex, so far-reaching, so downright weird that, in the hands of a lesser writer it would be totally unreadable. Of all the writers whose work I have reviewed so far, I can think of maybe two at best, who would be capable of producing comparable work.
Despite that, it somehow manages to be quite a page turner. There was never any point at which I considered not finishing the book. The quality of the prose is such that you just go with the flow. It's surreal, dreamlike, occasionally stream of consciousness, but it somehow never lapses into pretention.
So why is the prospect of reviewing it so scary? Well, quite simply, I'm not convinced I actually understood enough of it to ensure I don't say something stupid.
The main protagonist, deKlend, is on a quest to find Votu. Votu is a mystical city, where time runs backwards. Amongst its population are gangs of feral teenage girls--rabbit girls and pigeon girls. There are spontaneously occurring (as in not man-built) giant robots, worshipped as gods. I felt that the weirdness of the prose very much reflected the experience of people who are living and ageing in the normal forward manner, while living in an environment where time actually flows backwards... but maybe that's just me!
Then there's the reincarnation element to consider. Purchasers of the book will find a flow chart to help them with this.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yes it is confusing, but I think that is the point 4 July 2012
By D. Davis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I cannot claim to understand everything that this dense, cryptic, and powerfully written novel contains. Not even close. My level of understanding probably hovers around 40%. This is the most difficult book I've ever read. There were multiple times that I almost gave up, and I was tempted to skim whole chapters. But I never did. I persevered and worked my way through it, slowly, word by word, in a manner similar, I'm sure, to the process by which Michael Cisco wrote it.

For those of you who might read it, it is important to remember one thing: there is a world within the world of the novel in which time runs backwards. And I don't mean it in some simple Benjamin Button convention. It's not that people are born old and die young. The very fabric of time and space, and cause and effect is fundamentally turned on its head. Literary devices such as flashbacks, foreshadowing, and projections from a/n omnipotent POV character(s) all work differently in this novel. Cisco effectively creates a new kind of storytelling in which his readers discover the things that happened before we discover why and how they happened. It's hard to explain.

Yes, it is purposeful obfuscation. However, it is done for an important reason. As far as I can tell, the book is about reincarnation, death, and the afterlife. Things that are or can be incredibly confusing to a person experiencing them (and given the premise, we have to assume that these things do in fact exist in the book's world.). Cisco uses a confusing convention to demonstrate the confusion the characters are experiencing, and in turn he puts his readers in a similar state.

Additionally, the book itself is somewhat odd. The very first page past the cover contains a series of anagrams for the book's title, each crossed out, with only the final solution, 'Nacre Belt' left unmolested, but followed by a '?'. And then the next page begins with a narrator proclaiming that he is not ready yet, who then goes into a explanation of certain things for a few pages. This is all before we get to the traditional title page and bibliographic information. We are then presented with a timeline of the book, something that is simultaneously confusing and illuminating.

Scattered throughout the rest of the book are additional little puzzles and clues (such as the use of quotation marks surrounding only certain lines of dialog). I'm sure there is something on almost every page to solve, that, once done, will reveal another layer of understanding. However, I was unable to do so frequently enough for my own peace of mind. At times the book felt like work, and I can't say that I enjoyed a lot of it in a more traditional manner. There were entire POV characters that completely baffled me, and entire chapters that left me scratching my head.

As with The Great Lover, Celebrant will be a book I will return to in the future. I truly believe that there is a lot to gleam from its pages. I know that Cisco is a writer who carefully chooses every word he uses - there is no compromise, he does not settle for something that simply gets the job done. I wish I understood more, and I am greatly looking forward to reading the comments from other people who have read this book. Celebrant is a book to be read and studied, and I'm sure that one day I will treasure it more.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book will make you think, but don't be scared... it's worth it. 4 April 2013
By David L. Brzeski - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This review is based on an advance copy I received from the publisher.

It's not often that the prospect of writing a review makes me positively nervous.
It's not that it's bad--far from it!
In fact this is a brilliantly written book. Frankly, it needs to be, because the concept and execution is so complex, so far-reaching, so downright weird that, in the hands of a lesser writer it would be totally unreadable. Of all the writers whose work I have reviewed so far, I can think of maybe two at best, who would be capable of producing comparable work.
Despite that, it somehow manages to be quite a page turner. There was never any point at which I considered not finishing the book. The quality of the prose is such that you just go with the flow. It's surreal, dreamlike, occasionally stream of consciousness, but it somehow never lapses into pretention.
So why is the prospect of reviewing it so scary? Well, quite simply, I'm not convinced I actually understood enough of it to ensure I don't say something stupid.
The main protagonist, deKlend, is on a quest to find Votu. Votu is a mystical city, where time runs backwards. Amongst its population are gangs of feral teenage girls--rabbit girls and pigeon girls. There are spontaneously occurring (as in not man-built) giant robots, worshipped as gods. I felt that the weirdness of the prose very much reflected the experience of people who are living and ageing in the normal forward manner, while living in an environment where time actually flows backwards... but maybe that's just me!
Then there's the reincarnation element to consider. Purchasers of the book will find a flow chart to help them with this. This flow chart wasn't in the advance review copy I read, but thankfully the publisher also let me have a pdf copy, which did include it. There are also hints that deKlend might actually be institutionalised in a sanatorium.
Another review I read stated that it would reward a second reading. I have to agree!
Put simply, this book raises the bar on weird fiction. I've never read anything even vaguely like it before. If anyone should read this one as a member of a weird/science/fantasy fiction book group, I predict that they will be discussing it for quite some time to come. I think I'd quite like to join in with those discussions
Yes, this book will make you think, but don't be scared... it is worth it!
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb and strange 14 Jun 2014
By D. J Penick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Such a beautifully rendered unfolding of a consciousness not located consistently in a person. It's more like the account given by a thought as it takes up temporary residence in a suburban vagrant and his yearnings for other places.
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