Saturday, June 12, 2010

Palimpsest by Catherynne Valente

Palimpsest is a story about a mystical city. Only people who carry a map of the city as a tattoo are able to enter it, only in sleep after having sex. And the mark of the city is transmitted to other persons with sexual activity. The book is written in highly flowery and lyrical style, and it was really hard to read. I had to reread passages several times, and as whole the book was not at all enjoyable experience. I usually prefer story and characters, and “beautiful” writing is much less important for me. There was hardly any story in this book, and I did not care for most of the characters, they felt pretty whiny and irritating as best. However, there were some short parts of the book which I enjoyed; namely those which told stories inside the story about the customs and history of Palimpsest and if there would have more of those, this might have been more enjoyable experience. It seems that as those were “separate” parts of the narrative, the author didn’t feel compelled to load every sentence full with allegories and linguistic finesses, and actually told some fascinating things. This book is not going to be one of my top choices for Hugo awards.
384 pp.

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