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Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith
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Only Forward (edition 2015)

by Michael Marshall Smith (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1383513,063 (4.03)42
Michael Marshall Smith's surreal, groundbreaking, and award-winning debut which resonates with wild humour interlaced with dark recollections of an emotional minefield. May we introduce you to Stark. Oh, and by the way -- good luck. Stark is the private investigator who goes to work when Something Happens to you. And when a Something happens it's no good chanting 'go away go away go away' and cowering in a corner, because a Something always comes from your darkest past and won't be beaten until you face it. And that's not easy in a city where reality is twisting and broken, a world in which friends can become enemies in a heartbeat -- and where your most secret fear can become a soul-shredding reality. And the worst of it is, for this nightmare you don't even have to be asleep... Considered a modern classic, and consistently featured in lists of Books To Read Before Your Head Explodes, ONLY FORWARD is a novel you'll never forget.… (more)
Member:p5ntangle
Title:Only Forward
Authors:Michael Marshall Smith (Author)
Info:HarperVoyager (2015), Edition: Reprint, 322 pages
Collections:Your library
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Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith

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» See also 42 mentions

English (33)  French (2)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Struggled on with this long after I was sure it wasn't working for me, and I have liked and admired three other worlds by MMS. But, at the half-way point, I think I have to admit that it isn't working for me, and move on.

It is the sort of book where, I think, the author is having a much better time than the reader. Every "clever" thing in it has been done, more cleverly, by someone else. (I'm looking at you, Douglas Adams ...) The wise-guy voice of the narrator was grating.

Done. ( )
  maura853 | Jul 11, 2021 |
Weird. Really. Hard to classify too. The first half of the book follows Stark, who is hired to find an important person, who is believed to have been kidnapped. He lives in an interesting alternative world, with many oddball friends and neighborhoods, my favorite of which is the Cat Neighborhood. About halfway through, everything changes as we are abruptly transitioned into a dreamworld, with little upfront explanation. As the explanation unfolds bit by bit, we long for a cohesive end. There is an ending, but it was unsatisfying as we learned how Stark became who he is. Perhaps most frustrating, at least to me, was the introduction of central and pivotal characters in the last 20-25 pages. ( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
5 Star Favorite. Brilliant surreal sci-fi. ( )
  Tracyalanb | Apr 4, 2021 |
Holy shit. That was one of the most intense, crazy, twisty, emotional, and powerful novels I think I've ever read. The world-building is amazingly good, but there is so much more to this than tthat. I literally gasped throughout the second half. Not what I was expecting, but in a complex, exhilarating way. ( )
1 vote goliathonline | Jul 7, 2020 |
The first few chapters are brilliantly hilarious. I don't think I've ever come across such humor density. I literally cried multiple times and had to get an ab transplant to keep going. Enjoy! I'm going to re-read them one of these days.

After the laughs die down, a butterfly comes out of the funny cocoon and the comedy boils down, way down, down down down, all the way into a hard-boiled detective novel. You're hard-boiled for a while. Things are not quite captivating, but they move along and there's an occasional amusing throwback to the good old days of chapters one (or was it two? From this distance, it's starting to look like one).

Half-way through the book, a second butterfly dreams itself to the first and then rips its way violently out of the first one's head. The book goes straight into this-makes-as-much-sense-as-this-review territory.

Finally, the twice-born butterfly gets depressed. Its wings shrivel up into corn flakes and it sits there on the corpse of the first butterfly, nibbling at the bits of butterfly skull, remarking sadly about how it tastes like chicken, which almost nothing tastes like anymore, and how apt and tragic it is that one must resort to auto-cannibalism to regain the memory of happiness. Don't ask me why the memory of happiness to a butterfly is things tasting like chicken. Ask Michael Marshall Smith.

Finally, at the very end, all the mysteries are revealed and everything makes sense! Glory, glory, hallelujah! Well, some sense. Sadly, at this point, as this was no longer the book I started, nor the book I sort of enjoyed for a while, but only the book that tried its damndest to depress me into abandoning it for the last solid third, "some sense" wasn't enough. Nothing was. Nothing will ever be.

The first chapter or two though: solid gold ( )
  mvayngrib | Mar 22, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Marshall Smithprimary authorall editionscalculated
Jaspersen, KnudCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kempen, BernhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For my family - David, Margaret and Tracey - and in memory of Mr. Cat
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Once there was a boy in a house.
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You haven't seen untidiness until you've seen a room where gravity has failed twice in different directions.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Michael Marshall Smith's surreal, groundbreaking, and award-winning debut which resonates with wild humour interlaced with dark recollections of an emotional minefield. May we introduce you to Stark. Oh, and by the way -- good luck. Stark is the private investigator who goes to work when Something Happens to you. And when a Something happens it's no good chanting 'go away go away go away' and cowering in a corner, because a Something always comes from your darkest past and won't be beaten until you face it. And that's not easy in a city where reality is twisting and broken, a world in which friends can become enemies in a heartbeat -- and where your most secret fear can become a soul-shredding reality. And the worst of it is, for this nightmare you don't even have to be asleep... Considered a modern classic, and consistently featured in lists of Books To Read Before Your Head Explodes, ONLY FORWARD is a novel you'll never forget.

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