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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars YEAH, BUT, 6 Jan. 2010
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This review is from: These Demented Lands (Paperback)
While "These Demented Lands" may dress up as oblique, it is fairly pale stuff compared to any number of early surrealist works ("Nadja", "Magnetic Fields", "The Lost Steps", "The Communicating Vessels", etc.) and more coherent than -- at moments -- the charming tyranny of the Belle Époque's "Le Chant de Maldoror". Point being that, though the term "surreal" comes up too often in describing this work, it is not by definition surrealist literature. As for contemporary examples, well, Philip K. Dick comes to mind, but his work is typically more clear in purpose.

So, only guessing here, but the book's conception seems to seek to address some consequence of the actions without consequence that drew such a luminous outline around the ethical blank vividly portrayed in and by "Morvern Callar". As such, it seems an interesting exercise to this reader, shading the impressions of what went before in a different context. Due to its fantastic nature however, these trials usually seem less portentous than the ultimate non-events occurring in the assumed "real world" of the former book and its still curious model railway component. But there seem to be many flaws, least of which might be holding off on identifying the main character until the very end -- short of a few obvious tells -- which strikes me as needlessly manipulative and, worst case, cliché -- a cheap trick. And the greatest of which might be the profound change in voice that occurs about half way through "These Demented Lands". Stripped of the stylistic colouring of Morvern's original first-person narrative, Warner's prose seems to go flat, becoming less distinct, less compelling and far more like many things other than. Still, credit to the author for a valid and brave experiment in avoiding the formulaic trap of many and other writers.
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Location: Makawao, Hawaii United States

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