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A Box of Birds Paperback – 30 Aug 2012
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'Arrestingly good prose - A thought-provoking novel that wrestles with the fundamentals of human nature.' Financial Times 'The plot, which flies past at genuine 'page turner' pace, involves a race to map the (fictional) Lorenzo Circuit, 'the deep root-system of the self - the basis of memory, emotion and consciousness in the human brain' - Fernyhough may have ended my face-off with fiction, as I realised - that [science and fiction] need not be mutually exclusive. We can, of course, learn about our world while our head's in an imagined one, just as our experience informs our writing. 'Stories are truth', he writes. 'Stories are the truest truth'. I'm grateful for the siren warnings from the storytelling machine that is Charles Fernyhough.' The Psychologist 'A pleasantly sardonic narrator - There is - a certain edgy propulsion to the story, and the reveal of what is really going on in the bowels of Sansom's research centre is deliciously horrible and deftly understated.' Guardian 'Part love story, part race against time to beat the baddies, Fernyhough can certainly write.' Daily Mail "This is both a novel of ideas and a pacey thriller. Exhilarating, thought-provoking and well worth the wait." - Andrew Crumey "A thrilling plot and wonderfully constructed characters - a serious novel and a great read." - Sara Maitland
If you believe you are just a bundle of nerve cells and neural pathways, with no centre, and no self, does that change the way it feels to fall in love?See all Product description
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What's the ball-park? Christopher Priest, M John Harrison, Austin Grossman's You? Which, coincidentally, I've just been finishing off and is similarly discombobulating**. As for the style, 'reclusive skin' (p99) did worry me - perhaps it was meant to? - but the mermaid who's lost her shell-encrusted mirror on the next page brings it all down to earth again and the 'blundered handshake' of page 113 is better, much. I jacked it at page 160. Now let's see Fernyhough write a 'proper' novel
* Actually this book is SO disconcerting that when I came to 'black data projector' I thought it was the data that were black, not the projector (though come to think of it, why mention the colour at all? aren't such gizmos always black?)
** 'You're about fourteen, and you're a girl.. [with] acne scars and a strong jaw [..] Evidently you have been crying' - this, three hundred plus pages into the narrative!)
A rare find, it combines a clever and intriguing plot, with beautifully written prose, leaving the reader eager to read on. Well chosen words paint a whole scene with broad brush strokes which allow the reader to "fill in the gaps" with their own imagination.
The book is atmospheric, with fantastic imagery lending itself to the visual impact and fast pace of the cinema screen.
The characters are complex, interesting and a little "off the wall" but are grounded by tender relationships in the world outside their neuroscience research "bubble".
A thought provoking concept, the novel explores the dilemmas involved in scientific advancement. With no background in the intricacies of the neuroscientific world, I still found this novel accessible. The reader is given an insight into the fascinating "near future" reality of science, technology and eco terrorism and the means by which bio tech organisations could strive for their own profit -driven gains.
Charles Fernyhough's prose is beautifully shaped and his descriptions made me feel that I was there in the action with the characters. This novel would make a fascinating and exciting film. I love it - and look forward to the next novel from this highly talented writer.
Pretty boring and long winded.
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