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This Census-Taker by China Miéville

This Census-Taker

by China Miéville

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4002226,709 (3.41)44
  1. 10
    The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (Euryale)
    Euryale: Another short novel with a similar atmosphere (although a very different structure and voice)

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As always, Mieville enters his stories from a surprising angle and keeps you in suspense until a crashing, startling, and inevitable end. ( )
  Deborah_L_Fruchey | Jul 28, 2017 |
“This”–he tapped the broad gauge tube–“a shotgun. It spreads possibilities.”

This inscrutable novella is about the son of a man who makes magic keys, and whose father may have killed his mother, but no one knows for sure-- not the authorities, who only have his word for it, and not the narrator, who thought he may have seen his father dying or someone else entirely. The novella chronicles the time before and after the murder, with occasional glimpses of the present day, where the narrator is writing the whole incident up in the second of three books he owns. The first is facts, which everyone can read but few will. The second is stories, written for readers even though they might not come. The third is secrets, which only he is supposed to read but others might. As maybe you can tell from what I've said so far, the book is partially about truths and how we capture them-- the kid is fascinated by creatures in bottles as a kid, because it makes him imagine an entirely contained world, and of course the census-taker who comes to the village is all about the capturing of (a form of) truth. Anyway, there are significant aspects of this book I did not comprehend, and I did not expect it to end where it did, but I greatly enjoyed reading it.
  Stevil2001 | Jul 21, 2017 |
A strange tale. Set in a time and place not our own and not anyone else's either. The narrator is a very young boy - so not entirely reliable. There is much unsettling about the story - but it was well crafted. If you like a story with lots of ambiguity or a story set in a quasi-dystopian community - you might like this novella. I was sufficiently curious to stay to the end, but didn't find it ultimately satisfying as a reader. ( )
  TerryLewis | Jun 12, 2017 |
If I had to sum this book up in one word it would be "vague." There are some interesting things hinted at here, but nothing was explained or developed. ( )
  amanda4242 | May 28, 2017 |
Eerie and unsettling - and yes, a little hard to follow. Or rather: this is a compelling story about a boy trapped alone in his home in the hills outside of town, with his father who may have murdered his mother, told years later, possibly by more than one author, in a wider setting that is probably not our world as it is but which is not at all explained. I liked it, but I'm not sure I got it. This will probably reward re-reading. ( )
  jen.e.moore | May 22, 2017 |
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"Like all these long low squat houses, it had been built not for but against. They were built against the forest, against the sea, against the elements, against the world. They had roof-beams and doors and hatred—as though in this part of the world an architect always included hatred among his tools, and said to his apprentice: 'Mind you've brought along enough hatred today.'"
—Jane Gaskell, Some Summer Lands
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A boy ran down a hill path screaming.
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