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16 October 2011

'Perdido Street Station' by China Mieville

I have never showered so often during the reading of a book  It was rather like reading 'Chocolat' and needing chocolates beside me.  This man loves dirt and the underside of just about anything.  He is not only interested in garbage but he likes to turn over the bin and see what is crawling underneath.  The dirt is detailed, the horror is detailed, the dirty sheets are detailed.  He describes a truly decadent city.  You feel dirty reading this book.  I am surprised and pleased with how so much slime can beautifully discuss heavy topics.

The story itself is simple.  A family of monsters are unintentionally set lose on this dirty city.  Any monster that can terrorize this city is a monster of the first class.  The most fundamental topic is freedom of choice, even if all the choices are bad.  Are promises important?  Is betrayal necessary?  Of course, the story also contains courage, cowardice and pragmatism.  Even triumph is full of fear and misunderstanding.  The author constantly changes our perspective both physically and morally.  The bird's eye views of the city and its characters are as amazing and disgusting as the street view.  The air itself becomes soiled not just by smog, but by our own evil.

As a reader you want a happily ever after, but the characters themselves never expected one.  I always hold my breath while I read Mieville's books.  As I close the books it feels like I have been running.  This book is a marathon.  China Mieville has a lot of patience with the reader.  I know it sounds weird, but it feels like he has compassion for our desire. Life and books do not have perfect endings.

China Mieville
ISBN: 9780330534239
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