the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘memory

 

I’m reading The Only Good Indians, by Stephen Graham Jones. All I heard online was how good this book is.  And it is damn good.  It is also scary AF.   Apparently while people were talking about it online, my eyes kept glossing over people saying it was a horror book.  And that it’s, ahhh, kinda gruesome. 

 

And I love that people love horror! 

 

But I don’t love it.   It’s just too scary for me, it always ends up feeling like something I can’t escape, like an itch that I can’t rub off because the itch is on a phantom limb.   And the thing in the world I fear the most is not being able to get away from something that is freaking me out. (it makes sensory overload super fun. And by fun, I mean super awful) In scenes in books or  movies where someone is powerless and can’t escape, I am flat out terrified to the point where I may not even register that other, happier plot points are happening.  

 

And sometimes I fall so deep into stories that I find myself at the bottom of a deep well. And sometimes it takes me a while to climb out.  

 

As I write this blog post, I’m most of the way through The Only Good Indians,  I just finished the sweat lodge scene.

 

Spoilers ahead, you’ve been warned.   (any of you remember that rambling not-a-review blog post I wrote about Artificial Condition by Martha Wells?   Yeah, this post is kinda like that).

 

The plot of The Only Good Indians goes something like this:  ten years ago, four friends did something really, really stupid. Cassidy, Lewis, Gabriel and Ricky knew what they were doing was wrong, and they got in trouble for it, and they thought they’d paid the price, and they tried to get on with their lives. 

 

This is a story of revenge. 

 

The tribal authorities punished the men for their poaching.

 

But the spirit of that mama elk, she answers to no human authority, and she will have her own revenge, in her own way. She will take what was taken from her.

 

What I need to keep reminding myself, is that in any horror story, the fate of the characters is already sealed.  Doesn’t matter if I haven’t gotten to the last page yet,  the author wrote that last page months or years ago, hundreds of thousands of people have already read that last page.  That character I’m reading about? Their future is literally set in stone. Mine isn’t.  It’s a difference between us: my future isn’t written yet, theirs is. 

 

But something we have in common is that our pasts have already been written, and that character can’t escape their past mistakes in the same way that I can’t escape mine. 

 

To be crystal clear:  the “dumb shit” I did as a teen and in my early 20s was 99% thoughtless and selfish things.  I never did anything stupid enough that someone got hurt. But they could have. I could have, and a couple of times I did.  That thing parents say “what were you thinking? Oh yeah, you weren’t.”, yep, that was me.  Did I do plenty of good things? Of course I did! But all can I remember is the thoughtless  and selfish things that I can’t escape.  I don’t usually beat myself up about these things, but I can’t forget that I did them.

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faller-novelFaller, by Will McIntosh

published October 2016

where I got it:  Accessed ARC via Netgalley

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If people had a chance to start fresh, to start again with no history, how could things in our world be different? With no memories, you have no guilt, no regrets, and no shame. You can truly start fresh.  And that would be great, right?

Although Faller follows two very intense and ultra fast paced story lines, you’ll have no problem keeping track of what’s happening in each plotline. One plotline follows brilliant scientist Peter Sandoval and his colleagues as they develop technologies, and the other follows a populace that has been afflicted with biographical amnesia.  People can remember how to use a can opener, how to use a gun, what a telephone is. But no one remembers what their name is, where they live, or who they are married to. And the telephones aren’t ringing anymore because there is no electricity.  Some people open wallets to find photos of assumed loved ones,  yet one man’s pockets are empty except for a photo of him and a beautiful woman, a plastic army guy with a parachute, and a drawing that makes no sense.

As in all his novels,  McIntosh has seeded a garden of abundant visuals, and as the story progresses, it’s as if the flowers are bursting into bloom.   The man who spent the morning fidgeting with a plastic army guy and a parachute ends up building a parachute and jumping off a building. But he doesn’t land on the road, in fact he doesn’t land at all. Known as Faller, he falls right off the edge of the world. While reading, I could see a visual novel unfolding in my mind, complete with shadowed faces and moments of clarity that last pages as people take the plunge towards the consequences of their decisions.

That man falls, and falls, and falls.  Until he reaches the next world.   When will he find what he’s looking for?  How fall will he need to fall?

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Wow, it’s been a while since I reviewed Hugo stuff! Moving in the Novelette category, I’m going to start with Ted Chiang’s “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling”.  You can read this story over at the Subterranean Magazine site.

What should you follow? facts, or your feelings? It’s not a matter of which is better, it’’ a matter of which will make the world around you better.

Over his lifetime, the narrator has seen drastic changes in how people communicate, and how people record what happened to them. Everything from hand written journals and photography of his youth to the assistive software and subvocalization his daughter uses when she wants to “write” something. That is in italics because he doesn’t view what she does as writing. There’s no paper, there’s no pen, her hands aren’t moving. To him, it’s not writing. In this near future story there are also “lifelogs”, a googleglass meets blog thing, where you can record important moments of your life for the purpose of playing them back later. Some people record their entire lives, thus the market for a product called Remem, that helps you sift through your lifelog to find the moment you’re looking for.

Perfect factual memory, it’s the invention we’ve been waiting forever for, right? You could finally find out who laughed at you at your high school cheerleading audition, or if it was you or your spouse who forgot to lock the front door. This is the epitome of personal record keeping. The narrator is excited to use this new technology to repair his relationship with his daughter. He can go back and review their conversations and fights, see where everything went wrong. Is a perfect memory a gift? or a curse?

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.