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Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff VanderMeer
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Shriek: An Afterword (2006)

by Jeff VanderMeer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Ambergris (2)

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Jeff VanderMeer's wildly inventive new novel is the afterword to the nonexistent history of a fictional city. After completing the classic The Hoegbotton Guide to the Early History of Ambergris, controversial historian Duncan Shriek disappeared, leaving his sister Janice Shriek to supply the much-needed afterword.

Janice Shriek's piece evolves into a memoir of the siblings: their family, their loves, and, most importantly, their failures. Banned by the Court of Kalif – this reality's Catholic Church – as heresy, Duncan's first book, On the Refraction of Light in a Prison, a critical and financial success, made him a minor celebrity. Ironically, later in life he would work as a professor for a Kalif university. Duncan's second book, Cinsorium: Dispelling the Myth of the Gray Caps, on the mysterious fungal beings living beneath Ambergris, destroyed his fledging career, furthered his notoriety, and affords the most humorous scene in this book. In a spot-on parody of the publishing world, the publisher of Duncan's previous effort berates and blames him for all the problems of the world, society, and, quite possibly, existence itself.

Duncan's relationship with the Gray Caps and his subsequent books intertwines with Janice's life, which finds her becoming a successful art gallery owner and eventually a bitter, disillusioned old woman. After Janice finished the afterword, her brother resurfaced and added his commentary to her work. The interaction between the siblings throughout grounds Shriek and elevates VanderMeer's story above the works of his contemporaries. Their relationship reads more true than many in so-called literary novels. Readers will recognize the bickering, love, and trust that could only exist between siblings.

VandeerMeer first introduced Ambergris in an intriguing series of novellas, collected as City of Saints and Madmen. Shriek: An Afterword is his first full-length novel set in the mythical city. With literary stylings, a complex plot, and ideas that lesser writers could not imagine, it further establishes him as the finest fantasist of his generation.

(This review originally appeared in The Austin Chronicle, June 30, 2006)
Link: http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/review?oid=oid:380825 ( )
  rickklaw | Oct 13, 2017 |
Shriek: An Afterword is a story of love, loss, desperation, history, war, art, and madness (possibly of a fungal origin) set in the violent and musty city of Ambergris.

The afterword is a companion piece written by Janice Shriek to The Early History of Ambergris written by her brother, the historian and underground exploring adventurer, Duncan Shriek. As such, Janice's afterword is primarily about the siblings' lives in Ambergris, their successes and their failures, and a few digressions on the side (not to mention a spattering of humour throughout).
Not to be forgotten are the gray caps, a mushroom loving people driven underground by the city's early settlers. The gray caps may have greater power over the city's inhabitants than the latter would ever dare to acknowledge.

Shriek: An Afterword contains an abundance of creativity, particularly with regard to the city of Ambergris, which has texture and flavour to savour. It is as much a character as either of the titular Shrieks.

This novel will sit comfortably alongside City of Saints and Madmen, revisiting anew the strange culture of everything Ambergris. ( )
  Wolfman08 | Jul 22, 2016 |
I love mushrooms. Shiitake, chanterelle, among others. This book is about mushrooms. It's also about the trials and tribulations of being an artist in a highly centralized local scene. Maybe it's just the fact that we are both Tallahasseeans, but I feel that VanderMeer nailed it. All of it. The rise and fall of fortunes, the harsh realities of the art world-like having to know the right people, and of course the incredible and deadly power of gossip. Though these qualities can be found just about any city, they seem to ring especially true here in a smaller city like Tallahassee.Beautifully written, though maybe too experimental for some readers. And I would definitely recommend reading [b:City of Saints and Madmen|230852|City of Saints and Madmen (Ambergris, #1)|Jeff VanderMeer|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1390260432s/230852.jpg|522014] first as it will provide some background and help acclimate you to VanderMeer's unique writing style. Overall Shriek: An Afterword was a magical, though sometimes tiring, read. Eight toes up!!! ( )
1 vote bemidt | Apr 20, 2016 |
I love mushrooms. Shiitake, chanterelle, among others. This book is about mushrooms. It's also about the trials and tribulations of being an artist in a highly centralized local scene. Maybe it's just the fact that we are both Tallahasseeans, but I feel that VanderMeer nailed it. All of it. The rise and fall of fortunes, the harsh realities of the art world-like having to know the right people, and of course the incredible and deadly power of gossip. Though these qualities can be found just about any city, they seem to ring especially true here in a smaller city like Tallahassee.Beautifully written, though maybe too experimental for some readers. And I would definitely recommend reading [b:City of Saints and Madmen|230852|City of Saints and Madmen (Ambergris, #1)|Jeff VanderMeer|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1390260432s/230852.jpg|522014] first as it will provide some background and help acclimate you to VanderMeer's unique writing style. Overall Shriek: An Afterword was a magical, though sometimes tiring, read. Eight toes up!!! ( )
  bemidt | Apr 20, 2016 |
Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff VanderMeer is his first novel set in the fungus-laden city of Ambergris, which was introduced in the City of Saints and Madmen collection. We were introduced to siblings Janice and Duncan Shriek in City of Saints and Madmen. This afterword, written by Janice to accompany Duncan's The Early History of Ambergris, is a memoir, or autobiography, of their lives. It also tries to explain, among other things, Duncan's obsession with and theories about the underground-dwelling mushroom people, or Gray Caps, and his ill-fated relationship with Mary Sabon.

While Janice wrote this afterword after she presumed Duncan was dead, Duncan finds her manuscript after it was written and comments about what Janice has written, which is shown to us in brackets as we read the text. So we are getting both points of view about the same incidents, which are told in the form of flashbacks. The whole novel foreshadows one pivotal confrontation that is told in completion at the end.

VanderMeer is an excellent writer and the development of his characters is exceptional. In many ways this is a character study set in a mythical universe - it's fantasy, but with elements of science fiction. I guess it's also classified as steampunk.

The whole, totally unique mushroom/fungus infested world already has a history established, so I can't imagine reading Shriek without having first read City of Saints and Madmen. They are really interconnected. Additionally, Shriek is not an easy read and, even though it does get a bit repetitious at times (enough with the flesh necklace, already), it is well worth the time you'll invest in following the story.
Highly Recommended - but only after reading City of Saints and Madmen; http://shetreadssoftly.blogspot.com/
( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
VanderMeer’s previous novels are part of a fantasy sub-genre, often categorized as the New Weird. While Shriek certainly contains fantasy elements, it doesn’t fit into any strictly delineated genre. There are more ideas here than flights of fancy; VanderMeer owes more to Borges than Tolkien.
 

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jeff VanderMeerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Riffel, Hannessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
No one makes it out - Songs: Ohia.
If you live a life of desperation, at least live a life of loud desperation - Dorothy Parker.
We dwell in fragile, temporary shelters - Jewish Prayer Book.
The dead have pictures of you - Robyn Hitchcock.
Dedication
for Ann & for Heather Morhaim who sold it, Jim Minz who bought it, Liz Gorinsky who edited it
First words
Mary Sabon once said of my brother Duncan Shriek that "He is not a human being at all, but composed entirely of digressions and transgressions."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765314665, Paperback)

An epic yet personal look at several decades of life, love, and death in the imaginary city of Ambergris--previously chronicled in Jeff VanderMeer's acclaimed City of Saints & Madmen--Shriek: An Afterword relates the scandalous, heartbreaking, and horrifying secret history of two squabbling siblings and their confidantes, protectors, and enemies.
 
Narrated with flamboyant intensity and under increasingly urgent conditions by ex-society figure Janice Shriek, this afterword presents a vivid gallery of characters and events, emphasizing the adventures of Janice's brother Duncan, a historian obsessed with a doomed love affair and a secret that may kill or transform him; a war between rival publishing houses that will change Ambergris forever; and the gray caps, a marginalized people armed with advanced fungal technologies who have been waiting underground for their chance to mold the future of the city.
 
Part academic treatise, part tell-all biography, after this introduction to the Family Shriek, you'll never look at history in quite the same way again.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:46 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Janice Shriek, a failed gallery owner and journalist, has ostensibly created an afterword to The Early History of Ambergris by her brother, Duncan Shriek, a talented if unconventional historian who finds his career in shambles after his controversial theories concerning Ambergris's founding and the genocide perpetrated against its nonhuman inhabitants gain public disfavor. Worse yet, he's caught in a love affair with one of his students, Mary Sabon. A tragic, brooding figure, Duncan makes repeated journeys underground, into the world of the alien gray caps, and is eventually transformed into something both wonderful and inhuman. Ambergris is a city of magnificent, decaying architecture and multiple baroque religions, where publishers fight wars for control of civilization and authors of obscure historical texts can be major bestsellers at the Borges Bookstore.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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