I’ve been picking my way through Perdido Street Station by China Miéville this past month. (Yes, I’m a
slow meticulous reader. So, sue me.) The read comes on the heels of one of my classic pluck-it-from-thin-air cut-of-the-jib selections, this one tailing through a random literature search upon the throes of wikipedia and a side-swiped fascination with neo-victorian gothica slash steampunk. Miéville, as far as I can tell, is a demographic tiptoe away from where I would occasionally like to find myself (if it were not for an equally weighty family obligation and realism based in modern, central Canadian suburbia) an early-thirties-ish, literate-genius with an urban grit exploring the rough underbelly of the vasting metropolis he has created.
As always, I pick away a review before I’ve actually finished reading, half of this is due to the reality that I’ll move on to something else within moments of completing this book, and it will seem less relevant to my current existence to write a pandering review, but also because my interest (regardless of the the quality of the piece) often requires that one last hashing focus as we approach the metaphorical finish line — and I’d like to polish this read off before the weekend is out.
Miéville’s world is one of a complex urban freak show that takes place a step out of reality, mashing the existential woes of a dozen-odd cross-species, sub-species, super-species, demons, sprites, machines, remade species, and (of course) every dreg of human imaginable. As I have been pondering and practicing the various meditations on writing as of late, there is an appreciation that flows from this tangle of threads. It is as if I am witnessing raw experience form from some focused slake of creativity as a (perhaps) contemporary seeks to drive his will upon the pages.
And the story pushes through, egging the reader to feast upon the rich, lush patterns of evoked emotions a step beyond reality and reeking of the urban grunge that we so love to feel below our feet but no deeper than a scuff.
True, it is not for everyone: dark, gritty, surreal. But for those who choose to indulge, it is like mental oatmeal: it will stick to the rib cage of your mind for a long time. And you will be left satisfied and maybe longing for more.