Book Review: Novel 'The Crane Wife', by Patrick Ness.

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Sep 25, 2014
'The Extraordinary happens every day.'

I read this book recently, published by Canongate. It is like a Japanese version of our Selkie stories...where a man or woman loves a being who turns out to be supernatural, part seal, part human. In this case, a gentle, almost colourless man hears a cry one night, and goes out to find a crane in distress, with an arrow through it. He removes the arrow; soon afterwards he meets Kumiko, beautiful and enigmatic. Can he keep her, though? She, or her supernatural self is at eternal war with an ancient enemy and lover....

"No sound came from anywhere. The two of them could have been standing in a dream – though the cold that shifted through his shoes and bit at his fingers suggested otherwise, and the quotidian leaking of a stray drop, despite his best efforts, onto the crotch of his underwear-less trousers, told him definitively this was still real life, with all its disappointments."

I liked it, and wanted to like it better. It didn't quite 'get' me, but I don't regret the read.


Guardian Review by Ursula le Guin:

Click below for an interview with Patrick Ness, talking about writing; saying, write something you would like to read, yourself. He's right; publishers might be, but the world isn't waiting for more novels; what's the point if it's not a labour of love?
"write something you would like to read, yourself"...Indeed. You often hear people advising you to approach writing in a very hard-headed, commercial way - know your genre, know your market, and write in that genre for that market, like a production line, four novels a year, tried and tested formats, introduction/conflict/resolution, blah blah blah. Maybe that's how to be successful as a writer, I don't know; but I can't help feeling that adopting that approach could result in you trying, and probably failing, to write like somebody else, instead of writing what is, uniquely, within you. The flip-side of the coin, I suppose, is that by adopting the labour of love approach you might end up writing for an audience of one.......
Yes, you might, if it's self-indulgent, if graft of apprenticeship hasn't been done one way or another, and especially if you've never been in the habit of reading...
:oops:No need for ouch, Marc :) I understood you to mean 'one'. When I said 'you', of course I meant 'one.'
Thanks! Electronic communication is so easy to misunderstand, at least that's what I [not one] find. But this reading thing has always been difficult for me...
What was the first book you ever remember reading? My mother taught me, in the end, after I'd been to school for months and still couldn't read, aged 5.
I was also taught by my Mum, same age. First books were Now We Are Six and similar. First 'proper' book was The Wind in the Willows, which I still love, sad creature that I am.
Something called 'I am a Fox,' and then 'Bewildered Gilbert' about a dog with identity confusion, thinks he's a cat. He's bullied by a bigger dog called Ivan, goes (most reluctantly) for therapy which consists of sitting in front of a convex mirror, that makes him look much bigger, causing him to puff out his chest with pride, then he sees off Ivan with a super-bark (aided by a timely thunderclap) The drawings are a scream, I bought a replacement copy recently; daughters love it....puts Dickens in his place...
Price tag of 3/6 ...big bully called Ivan ... a Cold War book if ever I saw one...
Thinking back, another book I loved was Alan Garner's Weirdstone of Brisingamen. It was rapidly overshadowed by Tolkien of course, and I suppose couldn't compete with the hobbit epics, but I still think it is a bit under-appreciated.
Alan Garner's considerable. If I'd been a boy, I was going to be called Ivan, so I've been told. Do you know if your parents had a girl's name lined up for you? Naming characters is quite a job. Not so much of a job as naming children, still...
Hmm, never had that discussion with my parents, and if I asked them now, they wouldn't remember. I'd like to think that in a parallel universe I am blessed with the name Frumious Bandersnatch; but I'd never be so lucky.
Alan Garner is a wonderful writer, IMnotatallHO ;)

However, I actually came just to say, The Crane Wife is one of the Kindle Daily Deals on Amazon UK today :)
Yes, Flootavut, I came on too to say that it's one of the Kindle Daily Deals today. My finger hesitated over the buy button, but I'm glad now I stopped it from pressing.
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Article@ The Making Of 'The Blair Witch Project'

A Cautionary Tale: Goodreads Catfish