Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Book cover: "Peace"

This novel is on my to-read list, though it's alongside several hundred other books in that regard. I hope I'm not spoiling too much for myself with this standard summary, but odds are that I'll forget all of this, anyway, before I get around to reading the book.

  • Title: Peace
  • Author: Gene Wolfe (1931-present)
  • Cover artist: Gahan Wilson (1930-present)
  • Publisher: Berkley Books
  • Cover price: $2.25
  • Original publication date of novel: 1975
  • Publication date of this edition: 1982
  • Pages: 246
  • Format: Paperback
  • Back-cover excerpt: "PEACE is the life story of Alden Dennis Weer, an eccentric old man living out his last days and fantasies in an obscure Midwestern town. It is also much more — an extraordinary combination of the mythic vision of fantasy and the thrilling disquieting suspense of a mastercrafted ghost story."
  • First sentence: The elm tree planted by Eleanor Bold, the judge's daughter, fell last night.
  • Last sentence: My aunt's voice on the intercom says, "Den, darling, are you awake in there?"
  • Random sentence from middle: And it has just struck me that that sky must be the only thing left unchanged since by childhood.
  • Goodreads rating: 4.04 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Goodreads review excerpt: In 2015, DeAnna Knippling wrote: "Wolfe's story structure goes like this: you have to read the book, and then you have to read the book at least one more time. It's just not possible to sort everything out the first time, sorry. A Wolfe story is meant to be savored and pondered — there are actually (at least) two different stories going on at all times: the surface-level story, and the plot-twist story that you can only have a hope of getting once you pass the ending."
  • Amazon rating: 4.0 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Amazon review excerpt: Responding to a two-star review, Robert G. Buice wrote: "The interesting and clever thing about this book is what is going on in the narrator's past that he doesn't directly tell you. The second time I read the book, I found it to be a totally different story."
  • Notes: Full disclosure: A year or so ago, I started and then abandoned Wolfe's 2010 novel The Sorcerer's House. So that, in and of itself, will give me some reservations when I eventually try Peace. I'm also not thrilled at the idea, advanced by so many, that this is a novel you have to read twice to truly "get." There are too many books on the waiting list for me to have to read one twice. So we shall see. If you want some other thoughts on the book, check out Mordicai Knode's 2012 essay urging everyone to read the book and Joan Gordon's 2013 "We Read Things Differently" at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

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