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What We're Reading Now: 'Acceptance' by Jeff Vandermeer

acceptance

So the timing of this post isn’t exactly fair (you know what they say about life and fairness, right?). It’s August 29th — you’re looking for a book to take with you for the long weekend, you stop by thinking I might drop a line about one that seems perfect.

Acceptance, the third and final installment of Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy (I wrote about books one and two here), is that book except that it comes out on Tuesday, September 2nd. Apologies. You’ll have to wait out the weekend. I hope that if you haven’t cast your laptop out a window or slammed your head into your keyboard in frustration, you’ll refer to all our previous Fridays together and peruse those recommendations.

I also hope I can help rustle up some excitement for the end of what is by far (really, by far) the weirdest series I have ever read.

Up until now, our series has been propelled by questions: What do you do with the inexplicable? How do you handle the truly fantastical? The unsolvable mystery? The impenetrable? Acceptance is, alternately, propelled by discovery. Bit by bit, the previous 30 years of failed explorations, government cover-ups, and all things Area X unravel.

I was chatting with (read: accosting) a lady on the subway last week who was finishing the second book, Authority. I told her I was desperate for Vandermeer to explain everything in the end. “I need to know!” I told her, expecting her to join my rally cry. “Give us answers!” we’d scream together on the Queens-bound N train. She did not. She felt that would ruin it, that his story thus far had taken her imagination on such a ride it was only fair he leave the end open enough that it might continue. Also, she thought I was crazy.

There is potential she should write this column with logic like that. Suddenly, I didn’t want any answers either. What if it took away the magic? Is that possible? Don’t steal my (your) magic, Jeff! I honestly think we’re all reading a different book when it comes to this series. It’s so trippy and “out-there” there’s no way we’ve all seen the same things when it comes to Area X and Control and Ghost Bird — I’m not actually even sure what I’ve seen sometimes during reading — so her answer is, actually, fairly brilliant.

Book one, Annihilation, remains my favorite but probably for no reason other than the shock of the new. Acceptance is an excellent, intriguing, and challenging end. I can only assume wrapping up a series like the Southern Reach trilogy was infinitely more difficult than starting it. I won’t tell you what questions are and are not answered (maybe all! maybe none!) because, um, duh — but I hope you pick up a copy and tell me what you think!

What is everyone reading over the holiday?

 

What We're Reading Now: Annihilation; Jeff Vandermeer

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Are you in a book club? Do you take turns [painstakingly] picking out each read? Hoping everyone likes it and your one friend doesn’t complain about how “the chapters are, like, sooo long” again? And, as the end of each month nears, do you realize that a) the plan for you and your two roommates to share one copy of a 300-page book was dense and b) you need to shuffle your calendar to find a Friday night you and the girls can try out that new spot in Chelsea at 10pm to…discuss a book?

Does that ever work? The last time my ‘Book Club’ got together we pretty much…well, suffice to say, everything after the second course is a little fuzzy.

No, that’s not the way to share books.

A better way is this: Matt, EW’s Editor / the dude with whom I share an office wall (I’ll let you decide which is his bigger claim to fame) walks past my desk several mornings raving about Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation, which EW reviewed here –> I bemoan having nothing to read whilst giving the book in his hand a pointed stare –> he promises to pass it along once finished –> I receive it, knowing he loved it, and begin reading.

There’s a chance I’ve buried the lead, but basically –> I also love it.

 Annihilation takes you inside the weirdness (read: mind-blowing, post-apocalyptic, potentially LSD-fueled Eden) of Area X. The prose is phenomenal,  the characters, despite existing in a very different world and time, have much to teach us about our own and the plot is…well, I’m actually  still not sure what the plot allegory is (Jesus? The 2nd Coming? Conservationism?) but I know it toyed with my imagination in ways that haven’t happened since A Wrinkle in Time.

And the best part? This is just the first book of the Southern Reach Trilogy — we won’t be bidding Area X or its mind-bending oddities ‘goodbye’ anytime soon. Book Two, Authority lands on bookshelves May 6.

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So that’s the kind of book-sharing that goes on at EW. I’ll be back here every week reporting on what books the EW staff is reading, and loving (or…hating). In the meantime: What are you reading?

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