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Y by James Campion
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2018515,329 (2.93)None



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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A friend of mine once said, "It's okay to go out an play with the archetypes, just don't rape the archetypes." I feel that JC, or James Campion has done just this in his attempt at creating a post- (post-) modern visionary novel which employs all the campy tricks of the trade: pretentious wit, vapid metaphors, contrived meaningfulness and depth, flat, stereotyped characters, and last but not least, an end of the novel therapy session using the tediously unoriginal "speak-to-the-reader" techniques abused by so many writers and film-makers. I've always disliked books that novelize writing, films about film-makers, songs about musicians (metacognitive art). They strike me as pretentious, conceited and self-congratulatory--something akin to masturbation but with an audience subjected to the author's need for voyeurs and not a chance in hell to find the release of the "happy ending". I also disdain the use of the public as a couch for one's therapy. Writing might be great for personal therapy, but the confessional novel/memoir has been employed too often and for too long for me to find much value in knowing other people's sins. I simply don't care to know that much--TMI--I don't hear you--lalalalala! I want my writers to share IDEAS not baggage--I do not want to be responsible for an author's psychosis, neurosis or crimes, I have enough of my own to deal with, thank you.

The only two redeeming features of this novel for me were found on pages 107 where the entity that is "Y" discusses "the big lie," and on page 308 in a much too short diatribe on "madness." The mention of Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd) raised this novel from a 1-star to a 2-star, which might seem ludicrous to some, but fits with the common theme of the novel: caprice, whimsy and complete absence of logic, or meaning, for that matter. Which apparently is the heart of what Campion considers to be the essence of "Y".

I have no idea what Campion hoped to achieve, but Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance or Siddhartha this book is not. ( )
1 vote Ellesee | Jun 21, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I don't think I understand anything. Seriously, this story was wildly difficult to figure out what is happening.

I had the same kind of befudlement trying to figure out Infinite Jest. The same feeling, but in a totally different way... if that make sense. You cannot explain this book, you have to experience it for yourself. It's trippy and twisted, and odd... but worth taking the time to muddle though.
  Radella | Feb 15, 2014 |
When I first started reading James Campion’s novel, I asked myself ‘where are we going? Clearly on a journey!’ As I continued, it became increasingly evident I was taking an acid trip, me the reader being the proverbial fly on the wall watching the craziness unfold. Deeper in, I thought ‘Ah, here’s the meaning. This is a commentary on the extent of the media’s influence over people.’ By the time I finished the trip, however, I realized that this novel is actually about the deepest meaning possible in life, best described I think by the Buddhist concept of duality: that Buddhahood and Fundamental Darkness exist side by side, or back to back as in a coin, within the same being. You know, two but not two, “Y” but not “Y”, James but not James.

James brilliantly captures this concept in the title alone (the backwards Y). But the story itself is brilliant because it so cleverly reveals that deepest of all principles in life, that each person has the capacity for both Buddhahood (enlightenment) and Fundamental Darkness (delusion). When we understand this, we are Buddhas; when we don’t, we are ordinary people. “If the minds of living beings are impure, their land is also impure, but if their minds are pure, so is their land. There are not two lands, pure or impure in themselves. The difference lies solely in the good or evil of our minds.” (Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin; “On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” Volume 1, page 4)

I’m not giving anything else away because you have to read it for yourself. But near the end, we are told we’ve been had. With all due respect, I beg to differ: “Two Campions.” Fantasy/Reality. Dark/light. Reader/Writer. Confusion/Clarity. James/James. My point exactly!

This story, including the commercial interruptions and the author’s apology at the end, confirms – not that I had any doubt – that the duality inherent in life exists and pervades everything, whether we like it or not. The question is which prevails, the dark or the light? James’ ultimate message is that it’s up to us, the reader/author of our own lives, to decide. “Y” is his skillful vehicle.
  LizVengen | Jan 30, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Exploring the potential of creating true uniqueness by employing the writing styles of a myriad of other authors, this is a story about a writer struggling with perception of reality and with writing something of quality, while immersed in compelled absurdity. I believe it is semi-autobiographical.
  herzogbr | Jan 25, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Generally, I enjoy meta-fiction. As an English major in college, classes that included meta-fiction were some of my favorites. However, Y is an inaccessible and un-funny attempt at meta-fiction, I was completely put off by this book, and it took me weeks, rather than hours or days, to read. The only reason I finished it was because I received an Early Reviewer copy and I felt responsible to complete the book before writing my review.

The device of writing in the first person, as the author, didn't work. The attempt at fantasy and the references to both Alice in Wonderland and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory didn't work. Rather, they felt like a poor rehash of classic tales. ( )
  eggsnhm | Jan 3, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0989225003, Hardcover)

What do a dancing blue jester, a club-wielding Russian brute, a lead-footed blonde cutie, a British ape man, an onerous band of bearded dwarves, a bag lady prophet, marching mimes with television heads, religious fanatics, ghosts of famous 19th century authors, an apparition of Alice in Wonderland, a preachy television clown, and the entire New York City press corps have in common? All of them merrily encounter the painfully bored and willingly curious freelance journalist, James Campion, whose miserable career of exploiting shady rejects from the age of celebrity renders him playful fodder for the wild gaggle of pop culture marauders; y. With a wink to the rich tradition of Lewis Carroll, Roald Dahl and Frank L. Baum, this satire is both an attack on the media s powerfully calculating voice and a skewering of fickle public opinion; a tale of not-so subtle deception by insanely fabricated characters to present dangerous themes in a comedic form, while also masquerading as utter nonsense.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:06 -0400)

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