Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Here's a guilty pleasure: China Miéville's latest novel, Kraken.  Among many other things, it's the big squid book that someone one "i" and an accent more than the famous author of a famous book about a big whale was bound to write and it's the author's long-overdue take on the whole cult'n'conspiracy-thriller genre, from Dan Brown on down, adapting an appropriately brisk diction to rush from a recognizable London by a serious of ever-more startling leaps of imagination and suspensions of disbelief to an ever-weirder revision of the city.  It begins in the preserved specimen jar collection of the Darwin Center at the left end of the Museum of Natural History (which is the closest thing to a cathedral for non-believers as the city has, and frames the story nicely for its dynamic between science and religion) and rapidly moves into parts of town more reminiscent of Miéville's UnLunDun or even the parallel cities of The City & The City or the unmatched weirdness of Perdido Street Station's New Crobuzon (yeah, disturbing urban environments are a Miéville specialty).

Here's a small sample that could serve as a description of Miéville's methods:

"I know, I know," Moore said. "Mad beliefs like that, eh? Must be some metaphor, right? Must mean something else?" Shook his head. "What an awfully arrogant thing. What if faiths are exactly what they are? And mean exactly what they say?"

"Stop trying to make sense of it and just listen," Dane said.

(Which, now that I've typed it out, strikes me as pretty good advice about much new music as well.) 

The best thing here, though, is the fact that Kraken is a comic novel, the only possible intelligent response to such a wooden genre and in the pair of killers-for-hire, Goss and Subby, Miéville has created his most frightening creatures yet. 

1 comment:

fredösphere said...

Ooh, gotta add that one to my reading list.