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Pym by Mat Johnson

Pym (2010)

by Mat Johnson

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4202341,669 (3.8)32
A comic journey into the ultimate land of whiteness by an unlikely band of African American adventurers. Jaynes is obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe's only novel ; when he discovers a crude slave narrative that seems to confirm the reality of Poe's fiction, he resolves to seek out Tsalal, imagining it to be a key to his personal salvation.… (more)
  1. 20
    The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe (goddesspt2)
  2. 10
    Sensation by Nick Mamatas (Longshanks)
    Longshanks: Two intelligent satires which make their points with a balance of clever observation and silliness. And not the lol-so-random monkeycheese sort of silliness.
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    Long Division by Kiese Laymon (hairball)
    hairball: These books just go together, even though on the surface they don't seem alike.
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    Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian by Avi Steinberg (kara.shamy)
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    Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher (Carissa.Green)

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» See also 32 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
I read about this book in some science fiction and fantasy round-up a few years ago -- and committed to it so hard that I bought and read The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket before reading this. As it turns out, Johnson doesn't assume you've already read this and so includes all the passages and summaries that you would really need to read Pym, but I do think having read both, I probably got a little more out of it. Because there are a LOT of echoes. A lot. Like, a lot. But a bunch of them backwards. And with SO MUCH RACE COMMENTARY. But if 300+ pages of race commentary and biting satire of a relatively unknown 180+ year old novel by Edgar Allan Poe doesn't sound like it would be a good time, then I don't know, maybe this book isn't for you? But it is also funny and insightful and irreverent and clever. Plus, there's that whole polar fiction thing going on, which earns it lots of extra points from me (plus the extreme satire of "self-reliant" libertarian right wing talk radio addicts). I was consistently impressed by this. ( )
1 vote greeniezona | Oct 10, 2019 |
I don't know what I may have missed by not knowing Poe, but I still got a lot of entertainment out of this book because it satirizes much more than Poe - for starters, academia, blackness, whiteness, and Little Debbie snack cakes. It's broad satire, coming close to but not crossing the wackiness line, which seemed just right to me. I think it was channeling Swift and [b:Gulliver's Travels|7733|Gulliver's Travels|Jonathan Swift|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1427829692s/7733.jpg|2394716] even more than Poe. My only criticism is that it went on too long. For me, satire works best in small doses, and I'd have preferred this as a novella. I wonder if the author wrote different versions of the ending - this one didn't feel very satisfying. ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
Totally wacky in a way I didn't expect - which was wonderful! The first 50-75 pages didn't do much for me but after the group arrives at their destination, the story really picks up. However, the first bit of the book paired with an ending that left too many questions unanswered made for a slightly underwhelming read. ( )
  Katie_Roscher | Jan 18, 2019 |
Some parts in the middle really seemed to drag, but overall I enjoyed the book a lot. ( )
  Lindoula | Sep 25, 2017 |
Bizarre, hilarious, scathing satire of American racism, all refracted through the lens of Edgar Allen Poe's "Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym." Tons of fun.

Update: I'm even more impressed with this book on a second reading, and I loved teaching it to graduate students in a course on racial form. Johnson inverts the racial logic of nearly every arena of contemporary life. The book is uproariously funny, but I was surprised at its elegiac and angry intensity in certain places I hadn't remembered from my first reading. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
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UPON my return to the United States a few months ago, after the extraordinary series of adventures in the South Seas and elsewhere, which you can read about on the pages that follow, I found myself in the company of several gentleman in Richmond, Va., who were deeply interested in the regions I had visited, and who were constantly urging it upon me, as a duty, to give my narrative to the public.
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