What’s in a genre?

Cover imageI’ve been reading Marcel Theroux’s Strange Bodies for a review and wondering where I’d shelve it if I was back in my old bookselling days. It reads like a polished piece of literary fiction but it’s clear from the start that things are going to become pretty visceral, and indeed they do. Not to spoil it for anyone who plans to read it but there’s more than a nod to Frankenstein and his monster here. While trying to make up my mind I thought I’d check out other reviews several of which seemed to be on SF sites. Truth be told, if I had known that before I would probably not have chosen to review the book as it’s not a genre I’m drawn to – I read Iain Banks but not Iain M. Banks. That would have been a shame. It’s an interesting novel that asks serious questions about what makes us human – are our essential selves made up of our conscious memories, thoughts and feelings or are we incomplete without our bodies? It’s also gripping as well as being erudite: lots of literary allusions, a Samuel Johnson expert as a narrator and a nasty conspiracy based on nineteenth century Russian philosopher Nikolai Fedorov’s teachings on universal resurrection and the resuscitation of the dead. There’s a reasonable helping of black humour in there, too. All in all an excellent read. Must get out of my comfort zone more.

 

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