#81 The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

33858905Available November 2017

The End We Start From begins with the birth of a child called Z, born in a storm-flooded near-future London to a woman and R, her partner. Z is both the end of the alphabet and a beginning; a child born to a new generation, one that will come of age in a dystopian UK where transience is necessary and survival is key.

Megan Hunter’s brief and lyrical first novel beautifully explores themes of motherhood, survival, death and renewal, and home, while layering in all-too-real environmental terror and post-apocalyptic realism. It’s minimal and poetic. A strong debut.

 

#36 Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

28503870Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life and Others was highly recommended by a local bookseller I know, and the blurbs sing Chiang’s praises. Junot Diaz calls the stories “shining, haunting, mind-blowing.”

The thing that stood out about this collection was Chiang himself. He clearly put so much work into researching and crafting each story. Whether writing about problematic mathematical theory, or building the linguistic foundation of an alien language, or imagining the Tower of Babel winding up to the sky and cracking the realm of heaven, Chiang’s expansive mind is on display.  And it’s impressive.

I liked these stories. The way that Chiang pairs humanity with far-reaching ideas lends the ideas an accessibility, however there is a remove, an almost clinical coldness to the storytelling which left me emotionally disengaged from the stories themselves.

My favorite of the lot was “Story of Your Life,” in which a woman recounts to her child, “you,” how learning an alien language changes her understanding of life and time. Sound familiar? It was made into, with many changes, the movie Arrival.

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