Thursday, October 23, 2014

Under The Skin

Recently I read Michael Faber’s novel Under the skin and I loved it.

Original book cover in Croatian (Publisher: Celeber)

As I have precious little time that I can invest in quality reading between full time job and full time single parenting I read it at night, when house grew silent. Usually I am too tired to read at this time but not while reading this book; from the first page it captured my whole attention and I was coming home looking forward to picking it up when possible.

I loved it.

I loved the atmosphere of practicality, of natural state of things. I loved how Faber showed us the world through Isserley that is very true to reality; between small islands of doing “stuff” there are vast oceans of nothingness. Idling. He successfully avoided the need to over-explain and to fill natural gaps with babbling.

I loved the clever details, thrown around the book like Easter eggs, indicating this and that, left hanging for us to put into perspective. I loved thinking how similar her experience is to ours, or better, mine; if I was a person in similar circumstances how would I behave? Would TV give ME enough to work on? Where does my morality draw its arbitrary lines at the table? How much could necessity mold me and how pliable do I believe I should be?

I loved scarcity of details that gave the imagination wings to fill the blank spots describing her life before, her comrades here, differences that were bridged to make everything possible.

I loved the blurring of borders between “us” and “them” and how writer discuses some of human practices openly hiding them in plain sight.

One of the things I loved most, thing that is maybe (in my opinion at least) most difficult to imagine or to replicate is game changer (rape) scene and it is extremely well envisioned and described. It feels eerily real and it is difficult to imagine that anyone not already familiar with the situation could describe it so … real. We see a lot of them in the movies and vast majority of that scenes are plain stupid, staged and over pronounced but this one is … is correct. Cold and fright and survival instinct being brought forward from below. Shudder.

And about the end I loved that there was duty before survival. No bargaining and no negotiation, no vanity and no empty hopes. No pathos, just life - back to basics: us versus them.

* Book review also on my Goodreads page here.

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