NetGalley, Weird, Women's

When sh… gets too literary for me, even if awards are involved The Kite Family by Hon Lai-chu

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★★☆☆☆  2 stars
Received ARC for review

Man, do we have some deep literary shit here. Been reading this since September, and was it a tough cookie. Parts sparked my interest, and then… the stories would get so mixed up I wouldn’t know what to make of them.

When I stumble upon books like that, I always wonder – is it me? Or..?

However, I’m not going to judge. Maybe it’s just not for me. And I have to admit, as crazy and all over the place the stories are, they do paint quite strong impressions of the world the author wants to show us. Maybe the right way to read this is like looking at an impressionist painting – from far away, not trying to make sense of the details, but simply following the emotions it stirs up. The closest of a simile I can find for the storytelling in this book is… dreams. You get into the story, maybe start seeing through the metaphors… And then suddenly a giant pterodactyl sweeps by and the story changes and completely  runs away from you.

Well, okay. Not literally a pterodactyl, but the comparison is really quite close to the reality. It’s just so… weird. And yet – there is a certain logic, certain laws. But they’re so otherworldly – all I can compare it to are dreams.

I have the feeling though that the author wanted to put everything in code, use metaphors for literally everything she wanted to say. In a way it’s interesting, but I can get only like 25% of all of those – the rest is too complicated. I wonder if someone else gets the rest – it would be interesting to try to see where she was going with it.

But I’m always like that. I’ll always first assume IT’S ME. The other reviews though, point in the direction of me being in the majority. I do read literary, but man, was this too literary for me 😀 I’m glad it’s received awards in Hong Kong, and maybe some things just get lost in translation? God only knows.

To give you a taste of how weird this book is, have a quote. And if you think that’s a good metaphor, well, it DOES sound good when it’s on its own… but this book is MADE of these:

“We’ve arranged new housing for you. In addition to basic furnishings, the unit is equipped with a father, mother-in-law, a husband and a younger brother.”

This is Gregor Samsa, in roach form, but on crack, with a glass of beer and a smokin’ joint. In a burning spaceship. Closest I can get to what it felt like.

So needless to say, it missed me. It totally missed me.

What’s the last super weird literary book you’ve read? Did you feel like you ‘got it’? Are you curious about a book like that when you read the review?

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4 years ago

Oh my gosh that pterodactyl cracked me up! And super liteary doesn’t usually work for me, maybe I should pretend otherwise ha ha but I read for escapism and fun, not for deep literary ruminating. 🙂

Nathan (@reviewbarn)
4 years ago

So was it literary or was it it just stuffing purple prose into every page in order to look like it was? Because I believe there is a difference.

Brian Joseph
4 years ago

Not every book is for everyone. There are also books that I did not get at one point in my life that I was able to appreciate years later.

Modern and post modern literature can be especially difficult, takes a lot of effort and it is not always worth it.

I read Ulysses a few years ago. It was the toughest piece of fiction that I ever read. I thought that it was worth it in the end.

Great post. It is honest and amusing 🙂

Trish @ Between My Lines
Trish @ Between My Lines
4 years ago

I know exactly what you mean when you say it’s too literary. Actually even a little bit literary, is enough to make me run for the hills. And that quote is madness! Definitely not for me, but well done for finishing it! The last literary book I hated was The Life of Pi.

Resh Susan
4 years ago

Too bad you did not enjoy the book. Maybe the book is not for you. or maybe it is just a bad book. You have tried to enjoy the book for many months! Hope the next read is a great one.

Jan @ Notes from a Readerholic

I don’t read literary books anymore. I decided life was too short to read books I don’t enjoy and there were just too many I didn’t enjoy. Too many that I got to the end and asked myself “What was that?” I’ve given myself permission not to read some books and not to finish some books–and that make me happy…lol.

I hope you read something that you really like next. It sounds like you deserve it after that book.

Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium
Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium
4 years ago

hahaha I love your pterodactyl metaphor! Yes I have many ” is it me? Or..?” moments. MANY 😉

Jackie B.
4 years ago

I love the impressionist painting analogy. So on point. I feel like books which are too “literary” (or, as I would define them, intellectual) for me are often just… trying too hard. It’s good to take a step back, though. I imagine there was certainly something lost in translation, however. Either that or the awards were given by people who didn’t want to look like they didn’t get it. 😉