Summary Susanna Clarke “Piranesi”

What we enjoyed about the book:

  • weird fiction unexpected, reminded Miéville and Vandermeer
  • riddle-like structure of weird fiction enjoyable
  • first person narrative cool
  • smart read
  • weirdness enjoyable
  • setting wonderful
  • House fascinating, described well, “I could really imagine it”
  • refreshing environment
  • incredible world building
  • immersive despite the confusion
  • beautifully written
  • protagonist has a fascinating way of thinking
  • aesthetics of it brilliant, statues
  • dark academia feel
  • unique experience reading it
  • unreliable narrator
  • puzzle
  • reader was involved from the very beginning
  • who can you trust? journey entries could be made up
  • memory loss
  • who is the villain? who is the good person?
  • “mystery made me want to keep reading”
  • cult is the reason why he was there
  • reverse portal-quest fascinating
  • full of surprises
  • connection to pseudo-primary world really nice and surprising
  • similiar to crime novels: suspense
  • rereading it rewarding
  • could be a great computer game (aesthetics would be great, game play might be a bit frustrating)
  • movie would be great too
  • mysterious
  • ending needed to be processed
  • so many interpretations possible
  • book takes a philosophical turn, makes you think
  • interesting to compare it with “Jonathan Strange”
  • ideas and environment were great
  • narrative style + different layers added to the beauty of the book for some
  • writing style was great
  • ideas are high quality
  • infinity and style of house great
  • What is the house? different reality, portal, house of concepts (= statues), ocean inside the house a bit more metaphorical (= ocean of ideas); various interpretations: a) different reality or b) Narnia-like “Wood between the Worlds”, c) Plato Cave Reference, Ideas TM, d) Piranesi Italian artist drawing prisons (google him!!!)
  • Piranesi free in the house when memory loss has occured but it is still a prison???

What we discussed:

  • stylistic execution could be better and too many layers of narration, bit too much?
  • Matthew did not get his happy ending or ending
  • “conflicted about the ending”, felt a bit rushed
  • why would a police officer travel to another world to find a missing person? different profession would’ve been more fitting
  • magic system meh
  • pacing until the Other shows up was off, too slow going in the beginning, too long build-up
  • “struggled with the first pages”, conjunction of tides, super confused
  • closure missing in the end: what is the house? is it magical? still confusing but also part of the charm
  • antagonist kinda like a Disney villain, gullible narrator
  • would’ve liked to know more about the cult
  • so much potential for more background info

How we rated the book:

  • 5/5 journal entries, “enjoyed reading the whole book”
  • 5/5 even though not finished reading
  • 4.5/5 stars, torn between Goodreads 4 or 5 stars reading
  • 5/5 statues, unreliable narrator, aesthetics, fascinating
  • 3.5-4/5 stars “if I think about it a bit longer, it will be 4 stars”; “the longer I think about it, the more ideas I have, the better my ratings get”

Other books we talked about

  • “Jonathan Strange” cool, series really good, hard to read
  • “Amongst our Weapons” by Ben Aaronovitch: enjoyable, nice Monthy Python reference –> first novel called “Rivers of London”
  • TJ Klune “Cerulean Sea”, “Whispering Sea”
  • “The Hollow Places” by Kingfisher: horror, reminds one a bit of “Piranesi”, different weird dimension, very self-aware and full of intertextual references
  • “Daughter of the Moon Godness” by Sue Lynn Tan: great magical world building based on Chinese mythology, political intrigue, adventure, “really like the protagonist”
  • “Kindred” by Octavia Butler: time-travelling Black woman, slavery, shocking, violent, “several trigger warnings”
  • “Empire of the Vampire” by Jay Kristoff: “Name of the WInd” + “Interview with a Vampire”, not like Twilight, “very bloody, very smutty”
  • “The Half Life of Valery K” by Natasha Pulley: if you liked HBO’s “Chernobyl”, pick this book up!
  • “She Who Became The Sun”: retelling; fantasy; transgresses gender norms and roles; morally grey characters

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