Everything Under
Words are important to Gretel, always have been. As a child, she lived on a canal boat with her mother, and together they invented a language that was just their own. She hasn’t seen her mother since the age of sixteen, though – almost a lifetime ago – and those memories have faded. Now Gretel works as a lexicographer, updating dictionary entries, which suits her solitary nature.A phone call from the hospital interrupts Gretel’s isolation and throws up questions from long ago. She begins to remember the private vocabulary of her childhood. She remembers other things, too: the wild years spent on the river; the strange, lonely boy who came to stay on the boat one winter; and the creature in the water – a canal thief? – swimming upstream, getting ever closer. In the end there will be nothing for Gretel to do but go back.Daisy Johnson’s debut novel turns classical myth on its head and takes readers to a modern-day England unfamiliar to most. As daring as it is moving, Everything Under is a story of family and identity, of fate, language, love and belonging that leaves you unsettled and unstrung.

Everything Under Details

TitleEverything Under
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 12th, 2018
PublisherJonathan Cape
ISBN-139781910702345
Rating
GenreFiction, Magical Realism, Literary Fiction

Everything Under Review

  • Hugh
    January 1, 1970
    Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018I will start with an apology - I know that a few friends have finished this one in the last couple of days - and I have been deliberately avoiding reading your reviews until I finished it myself because otherwise I would probably feel there is nothing fresh to say, and this really is a vibrant first novel from a very talented young writer, which thoroughly merits its inclusion on the longlist and could be a potential winner.On the face of it I should hate Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018I will start with an apology - I know that a few friends have finished this one in the last couple of days - and I have been deliberately avoiding reading your reviews until I finished it myself because otherwise I would probably feel there is nothing fresh to say, and this really is a vibrant first novel from a very talented young writer, which thoroughly merits its inclusion on the longlist and could be a potential winner.On the face of it I should hate this book, as I normally struggle to relate to stories with supernatural elements, but Johnson writes so well and her storytelling skills are such that I was still gripped and frequently surprised. To some extent the basis in Greek myth and folk tales dictates some of the surreal elements, particularly the prophesy and fate parts, but Johnson writes very well about language and landscapes, especially rivers and canals, and her characters are vividly realised.I won't even attempt to describe the plot - though this book would almost certainly reward multiple readings I wouldn't want to spoil - this really is a book that you should read for yourselves. I will certainly be seeking out a copy of Fen once the Booker longlist is out of the way.I have now read those reviews (by Meike, Neil, Gumble's Yard and Jonathan). All four are wonderfully insightful and detailed and deserve more recognition than this one - I might not have dared to write anything if I'd read them earlier...
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  • Meike
    January 1, 1970
    Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018 This text is the reworking of a Greek tragedy (which one? (view spoiler)[Oedipus Rex (hide spoiler)]), a horror/ghost story, and a hall of mirrors - Daisy Johnson knows how to write exciting experimental fiction! As the novel progresses, the mythological source becomes clear, but she twists and turns the story and introduces a whole cabinet of doppelgängers, mirror images, and shape-shifting ghosts. Recurring topics are the nature of fear and the question Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018 This text is the reworking of a Greek tragedy (which one? (view spoiler)[Oedipus Rex (hide spoiler)]), a horror/ghost story, and a hall of mirrors - Daisy Johnson knows how to write exciting experimental fiction! As the novel progresses, the mythological source becomes clear, but she twists and turns the story and introduces a whole cabinet of doppelgängers, mirror images, and shape-shifting ghosts. Recurring topics are the nature of fear and the question whether there is something like destiny - and have I mentioned that the way she employs the natural surroundings of a river to illustrate and strengthen her story is simply fantastic? Our protagonist is Gretel who grew up on a houseboat with her eccentric mother, Sarah, who ultimately abandoned her when she was 16. At 32, Gretel works as a lexicographer and is constantly reminded of the words her mother used to invent, of the secret language they both shared - finally, she is prompted to put into action what she has been thinking about for a long time: Gretel sets out to search for her mother. In this story, the characters are not only haunted by the past they can't forget, they also meet monsters that might be real or willed into being, people change their family and their gender, family secrets are unearthed, there are riddles over riddles, and people struggle with destinies they might or might not have - or is it their obsessions? The story also shifts between time frames and narrative strands, and the reader has to pay close attention to follow what is going on. Tipp: You should also watch out for oranges, eggs and the theme of blindness! :-)And there is always the river, haunting, magical, and menacing - is this river the Styx? What spirit is Otto, the dog who looks like an otter and who is with Gretel during her search (and only during her search)? This novel is so full of ideas, it is edgy and weird, and it celebrates language, leading Gretel (of course her name's a Hansel and Gretel reference) through her journey with "words like breadcrumbs". I could now complain about one minor thing, but only in this spoiler (view spoiler)[(it comes a little out of the blue when Marcus suddenly realizes that Sarah and Charlie are his parents) (hide spoiler)], but this seems like a minor quandry. It's also true that I am disappointed that this year's Booker longlist lacks geographical diversity and political topicality, but this is the kind of book I want to discover on a Booker list. Highly recommended.
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  • Gumble's Yard
    January 1, 1970
    A literary novel of the liminal, language, leaving and legend, longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker prize. The river cut into the land. It was no good. She walked and walked until she slept. She saw the people on passing or moored boats looking at her and understood she did not look like a boy. She looked like something in between, uncertain, only half made. This is firstly a book of the liminal. Transitions and fluidity of gender, of family relationships and family status recur frequently, with t A literary novel of the liminal, language, leaving and legend, longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker prize. The river cut into the land. It was no good. She walked and walked until she slept. She saw the people on passing or moored boats looking at her and understood she did not look like a boy. She looked like something in between, uncertain, only half made. This is firstly a book of the liminal. Transitions and fluidity of gender, of family relationships and family status recur frequently, with the author herself switching between first, second and third person narrative, all in Gretel’s voice. And reminding me of the fellow longlisted Warlight) boundaries are vital to this book. The boundary between land and water: the author’s previous and debut book (a short story collection) Fen was set in that eponymous district where water becomes land and land can lie below water; this book is set on a river and in the world of canals (again the parallels with Warlight are strong) and on the strips of land alongside them. The boundary between the surface and the deep and the dangers that lie under the water. Boundaries between communities - the canal and river folk have their own sense of community and self-sufficiency and clearly are carefully maintain their distance from the world, in a recurring theme we are told they don’t call the police or child services. And even the boundary that Sarah creates for her and Gretel through their shared childhood language, I understood suddenly what you had done by creating your own language and teaching it to me. We were aliens. We were like the last people on earth. If, in any sense, language determined how we thought then I could never have been any other way than the way I am. And the language I grew up speaking was one no one else spoke. So I was always going to be isolated, lonely, uncomfortable in the presence of others. It was in my language. It was in the language you gave me. Language is then the second theme. Marcus is first attracted to Sarah and Gretel by their shared language: They had cut themselves off from the world linguistically as well as physically. They were a species all their own. He wanted to be like them, he wanted to be them.Margot as a child finds words difficult Those words on the page, swimming in and out of one another. She would not read, told them the words were ants which crawled, would not hold still.. By contrast Gretel loved words as a child, tries to teach Marcus Scrabble and later she becomes a Lexiographer. In Sarah’s early dementia we are told that her inventiveness with language begins to leave her a word becomes trapped in your mouth and you hack at it, trying and failing to spit it out and later The next day I watch the words leaving you. The pronouns are slippery and won’t stay still; objects go first so that you only point or shout until I bring what you want. Names are long gone.Leaving is another themes which dominates the story. Sarah leaves Gretel and the older Gretel is ever concerned she will leave again and wants to understand Marcus’s leaving. Fiona leaves her family and then Margot’s family, after influencing Margot to leave. It also features as as a euphemism for another underlying threat: When Gretel was a child, she said, she wouldn’t talk about death so we called it leaving. And I think it is no accident the word Gretel is occupied with as the book begins: For a living I updated dictionary entries. I had been working on break all week. There were index cards spread across the table and some on the floor. The word was tricky and defied simple definition. These were the ones I liked best. They were the same as an earworm, a song that became stuck in your head.” And of course this is a book of legend. Primarily it is a fantastic reworking of a Greek myth, but rather than say “Circe” or Pat Barker’s upcoming “The Silence of the Girls”, both of which renarrate a myth from the viewpoint of a female character, or Shamsie’s “Home Fire” which uses the very detailed narrative of the myth but set in today’s world, here the myth is a starting point for a complex tale. The Greek myth is and overlaid with Biblical allusion (Margot contemplates, unknowingly accurately, Moses as a name), fairy tale (Gretel and the recurring mentions of breadcrumbs) and even a familiar modern children’s tale, with a one word but I think very relevant mention of Julia Donaldson’s classic Gruffalo. But added to all of this is invented legend. The character of the Canal Thief reminded me somewhat of The Essex Serpent, and in Sarah and Gretel’s language becomes or expands into the Bonak There were more Bonak in the water than could be counted: bodies whose ghosts might catch on the anchor and decide to stay, trunks of trees big enough to sweep the boat away, the canal thief who rose out of the rip-tide tunnels and hesitated.The Bonak increasingly dominates their lives and its true meaning and significance becomes, at least to me, more obscure at the same time the parallels with the Greek Myth become clearer to the reader (at the same time the truth about the different characters emerges to Gretel). As if all along Bonak didn’t mean what we were afraid of, what was in the water, but watch out; this is what is coming down the riverReally a wonderful book and one which I can only congratulate the the Booker judges for longlisting. My review only scratches the surface of the novel (I could write more for example about the mythological parallels or the concept of destiny and whether one can avoid it).My thanks to Random House for an ARC via NetGalley.
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  • Ova Incekaraoglu
    January 1, 1970
    This book will win the Man Booker prize. I know it. (I will blame the jury if it doesn't)I am in shock, and awe. I am disgusted by some parts of this book but I am also equally blown away. I have never read something like this before.I dived into this book after reading the truly vague blurb, and thought `oh boy, this will be either a favourite or a disaster!`. I am Turkish, not a native English speaker and of some heavily metaphorical books that is aimed to crack the reader's skull just doesn't This book will win the Man Booker prize. I know it. (I will blame the jury if it doesn't)I am in shock, and awe. I am disgusted by some parts of this book but I am also equally blown away. I have never read something like this before.I dived into this book after reading the truly vague blurb, and thought `oh boy, this will be either a favourite or a disaster!`. I am Turkish, not a native English speaker and of some heavily metaphorical books that is aimed to crack the reader's skull just doesn't work for me. So I had my doubts about this one but I am extremely pleased to say that it's turned out to be an absolute reading joy. So guys, first thing first: If I get this book with my second hand English, you have no right to say, "Oh I just don't get it" -I think I am making it pretty clear that I am officially a fan of this book-The blurb is vague and it is for a reason. This book puzzled me for a long time, until 40% of the book I was a bit confused about who was who, and what was really going on. Once the pieces get connected I was transfixed, it was like seeing an avalanche coming on to me but I was so paralysed I couldn't move, I couldn't stop reading. I knew it'd hit me. I knew it was going to be a slap to my face. And it was but I enjoyed every moment of it. What happens in this book can be told in a paragraph and if I was told, I would have said 'Ewww' and refuse to read the book. The way it is told is so otherworldly, so dreamy, so damn good. It is in a way like Jeanette Winterson and Angela Carter- but better storytelling then Winterson and less bizarre than Carter. This is a re-telling or re-imagining of something (not gonna say, not gonna spoil) but I am taken away with this writing. Daisy Johnson could be our new Angela Carter dear readers. From now on I will read everything she writes. Even a shopping list.5 full, bold stars. Just amazing.Thanks to NetGalley and Jonathan Cape for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Paul Fulcher
    January 1, 1970
    "This is your story – some lies, some fabrications – and this is the story of the man who could have been my father and of Marcus, who was, to begin with, Margot – again, hearsay, guesswork – and this story, finally, is – worst of all – mine. This beginning I lay claim to. This is how, a month ago, I found you."In a year when the Man Booker jury has seen fit to broaden the definition of the prize in several troubling directions - low quality genre fiction, graphic novels, poetry and above all ac "This is your story – some lies, some fabrications – and this is the story of the man who could have been my father and of Marcus, who was, to begin with, Margot – again, hearsay, guesswork – and this story, finally, is – worst of all – mine. This beginning I lay claim to. This is how, a month ago, I found you."In a year when the Man Booker jury has seen fit to broaden the definition of the prize in several troubling directions - low quality genre fiction, graphic novels, poetry and above all accessible books that prize the message over pure literary merits - it is great to see at least one book that perhaps extends the prize more in the other direction, towards literary innovation and quality prose, and yet still speaks to the issue of borders which seems to be a key theme in 2018 for the Prize, and indeed the world more generally.In a post prize listing Guardian q&a author Daisy Johnson responded to one question:"The book that changed my mind:Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres, a retelling of King Lear, made me realise that old texts can be torn down and rebuilt in a different way."Two of the best books of last year were such reteĺlings of old texts in a modern context: Preti Taneja's We That Are Young, shortlisted for the Republic of Consciouness Prize and winner of the Desmond Elliott prize, another retelling of King Lear and the best of a plethora of Shakespeare rewrites; and Kamila Shamsie's Home Fire, shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker and winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction, a retelling of Sophocles's Antigone.Those two books, as typical for their type, chose to try to work within the real-life constraints of their settings. Shamsie's novel did have a Muslim Home Secretary which struck some as far fetched, only to come true. Her literally explosive ending attracted some criticism but was dictated by the story (the criticism mostly coming from readers who hasn't seen this as a retelling of a myth, since it's origins as such weren't overtly flagged). And Shamsie dropped the father murder/incest part of the Oedipus backstory altogether, replacing it with a neat solution involving Jihadis.Freud has rather distorted our perspective of Oedipus's story: Oedipus didn't suffer from an Oedipus complex at all. Instead the tale is more around the (in)ability to avoid a predetermined fate and, often forgotten, the abandonment of a child by its parents, which is how Oedipus's story starts, and the later fleeing from his (unknown to him adopted) parents by a child, each in response to a prophecy. And, in modern terms, transgender fluidity plays a role: the blind prophet Tiresias, who alerts Oedipus to his guilt, earlier spent 7 years as a woman.Everything Under is at heart a modern retelling of the Oedipus myth, in this widest sense, but actually it is so much more than that. Set in the communities of those living on boats on the River Isis around Oxford, the novel also speaks to language (a key theme and particular highlight of the novel) and even includes a moving portrayal of dementia/Alzheimer's in an elderly parent, first seen in the loss of language:"You are not yourself. You are not the person who did any of those things . You do not remember the language that made you that person....The word you were looking for is egaratise and it means to disappear yourself, to step out of your past. I tell you there is no such word and show you the place in the dictionary to prove it. ...Small words bother you. Tap, screw, step, handle. You pronounce them wrong or speak as if they mean something else. ...You are saying the word parasitic over and over again. Now para-SIT-ic. Now PARA-sit-ic. Your left foot knocks out the beat on the floor. At first I do not understand what you are doing but after a moment I realise you are examining your use of the word for flaws, testing yourself for further loss."Gretel is now a lexicographer and is working on a dictionary entry for 'break' when the present day story opens and when she receives a report consistent with her missing mother from a hospital mortician:"I tried to work. Break. To separate into pieces. To make or become inoperative. I would finally see you again at the morgue in the morning. Dread was a word that could be used also to describe flocks of birds taking off into the sky. The mass of birds rose up my throat, flooded out through my cracked jaw....There was a tag attached to one of the toes and, on another, a bell. What’s that for? I asked. He palmed a hand across his scalp. His hands were very clean but there was some food at the corner of his thin mouth. It’s unnecessary, he said, a foible really. Before heart monitors it was to make sure the dead were really dead. I retain a sense of tradition.That must be where dead ringer comes from, I said, and he looked at me the way people sometimes did when I talked like a dictionary. I wanted to tell him about all the beautiful words I’d thought of during the drive for the places we keep our dead: charnel house, ossuary, sepulchre. Do you want a countdown? Three, two, one? he asked. Some people do. No." And as a child Gretel and her mother had words they used all of their own, as Marcus observes when he encounters them:"The more he listened the more he understood that the words were instinctual, formed from the sounds things made or words Gretel had come up with as a baby which had stuck . Watching them he realised that it had been just them for so long it did not matter if no one understood . They had cut themselves off from the world linguistically as well as physically."Johnson doesn't adhere too slavishly to her source. Indeed it is rather like a dramatic production where one actor plays more than one part: in Johnson's Oedipus Rex, Laius goes blind (like Tiresias and later Oedipus in the original) and also speaks in "riddles, in codes and secrets" asking Oedipus the Sphinx's 2nd riddle. And another character seems to stand in for both Tiresias and the Oracle of Delphi.Instead Johnson mixes in elements of various other fairy tales and myths, most notably Hansel and Gretel ("a pattern laid out behind you like a reversed breadcrumb trail"), leaving the reader with lots of clues and allusions to follow, and also adds a memorable supernatural element of her own in the Bonak, the most weird and haunting aspect of the novel, a word initially invented as part of Gretel and Sarah's private language:One of those words being Bonak (see below) as Gretel reflects towards the novel'end:"Again and again I go back to the idea that our thoughts and actions are determined by the language that lives in our minds. That perhaps nothing could have happened except that which did. Effing along, sheesh time, harpiedoodle, sprung, messin, Bonak. Bonak, Bonak, Bonak. Words like breadcrumbs. As if all along Bonak didn’t mean what we were afraid of, what was in the water, but watch out; this is what is coming down the river."..."What’s a Bonak? Marcus watched her heaving the mechanism back down, snapping it into place. It’s anything, she said , gritting her teeth. What do you mean?Last summer it was this stupid dog that was so hungry Sarah said it would bite. But ages ago it was a storm that nearly wrecked the boat and another time it was a fire that burned a lot of the forest and that we thought would burn us too. This winter it’s something else. Sarah says maybe it’s the worst Bonak there has ever been but we don’t know yet. It’s what you’re afraid of? It’s the Bonak, she said simply and wouldn’t talk about it any more."The book is expertly constructed from four interlacing stories frpm both present and different times in the past, with the narrator, Gretel, using the 1st, 2nd (as she tells her dementia-suffering mother her own story) and 3rd (as she imagines that of Marcus/Margot.) This could have been confusing but part of the journey is orientating oneself in the story, and the different threads are clearly signposted by chapter headings:"There are more beginnings than there are ends to contain them. Somewhere you and the father who is not my father are in a narrow bed, as yet unafraid, long limb to long limb, mouth to mouth as if one of you was dying already. Somewhere I am standing in the dictionary office listening to the phone ring in an empty morgue. Somewhere I am opening the door to the cottage on the hill and you are pushing past me, commenting on the beige wallpaper that has been here as long as I have, the mouldy cornices and lack of ashtrays. Couldn’t you even buy a bloody car? And somewhere Margot is walking. Here I fall back on imagination, possibility. I fit her words into my cheek and hope she will not mind if I make allowances, embellish. Somewhere she is walking and perhaps she hears me, the echo of repetition and thinks, That’s not right. Listen. Listen, this is how it went."With that background then, the one rather disappointing part of the novel was how ultimately the plot of the book (and to be fair this book is so much more than just plot) depends on a delayed revelation of "the things Fiona had said just before she’d told [Margot] to go" away from her parents. This quote comes from is the first quarter of the novel, but we are then drip-fed various hints (almost thriller style) throughout, but with the final big reveal deferred to the last 10% (yes, I read this on a Kindle) of the book. The problem is that since it has been directly lifted from the most famous element of the source, it is rather obvious to the reader all along, albeit Johnson does have a final twist of her own. "What had been said was not a truth only a suggestion of one way it might go. And if she knew what was coming she was certain she could avoid it. Like a car crash."And the novel also fails (unlike say We That Are Young and Home Fire) to make the developments particularly credible in a modern setting albeit Johnson does neatly link in the rather secretive nature of the canal community:"She pointed down towards the water. I spent some time on the canals when I was starting out. Not an easy job. They have their own communities down there, their own rules. They don’t call the police or child services when something goes wrong. They have their own authority. It’s a different world."5 stars as a literary novel but only 3 judged purely as a retelling of a myth, making 4.5 overall. Rounded down to 4 for now.But a book I strongly hope makes the Booker shortlist and (particularly this year) a potential winner.Thanks to the publisher via Netgalley for the ARC.
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  • Celeste Ng
    January 1, 1970
    Saturated in mythology and fairy tales, EVERYTHING UNDER is weird and wild and wonderfully unsettling. Daisy Johnson writes in a torrent of language as unrelenting and turbulent and dark as the river at the book’s heart; dive in for just a moment and you’ll emerge gasping and haunted.
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  • Blair
    January 1, 1970
    Everything Under is about just that: the things that lurk beneath the surface, of a river, of a memory, of a person. It is a slow unspooling of a horrifying and tragic story, a queer, found-family (sort-of) reimagining of a myth – I'd best not say which one, though it's mentioned in loads of reviews if you're curious. It should be unbearably disturbing. Yet it is also beautiful and ethereal, a story that casts life on the margins as both magical and ruinous.Gretel and her mother Sarah are 'river Everything Under is about just that: the things that lurk beneath the surface, of a river, of a memory, of a person. It is a slow unspooling of a horrifying and tragic story, a queer, found-family (sort-of) reimagining of a myth – I'd best not say which one, though it's mentioned in loads of reviews if you're curious. It should be unbearably disturbing. Yet it is also beautiful and ethereal, a story that casts life on the margins as both magical and ruinous.Gretel and her mother Sarah are 'river people' who live outside society and outside the law. Gretel grows up using language she and Sarah have invented together, a two-person idioglossia that, later, will leave her feeling she can never quite mesh with the ordinary world. (She ends up being a lexicographer, a detail which, now I think about it, is perhaps a bit too on-the-nose, but it works in the context of the book.) Central to their vernacular is 'the Bonak', which is both a specific monster and a way to describe anything that frightens you. 'Last summer it was this stupid dog... ages ago it was a storm that nearly wrecked the boat and another time it was a fire.' It haunts Gretel into adulthood, though its meaning shifts.When Gretel is 13, Sarah disappears. In the present day, they have been reunited, and Gretel has brought Sarah to live with her in a cottage 'not big enough to hold the two of us'; but Sarah has dementia and her memory, like her behaviour, is erratic. Gretel is trying to coax out of Sarah the story of her lost years and, at the same time, she is going back over her own memories. These are patchy too. She remembers someone called Marcus who came to live with them for a short time, but who he was, and what happened to him, is unclear. (The timeline is occasionally muddy and I admit I sometimes lost track of what order things had happened in – but honestly, this kind of obscurity suits the story perfectly.)Everything Under is a hazy novel of magic and murk, isolation, legacy and personal legend. It casts the sort of spell that covers over its flaws: as mentioned above, a few of the details are rather too obvious, and some of the characters' actions seem clearly engineered to fulfil the plot's trajectory and not at all a natural consequence of whatever situation they're in. (I think, now, this is why I didn't find it more shocking.) But I'm only seeing this now I'm out of the story and analysing it; while I was immersed, its enchantment had me completely in its grip. I received an advance review copy of Everything Under from the publisher through NetGalley.TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr
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  • Neil
    January 1, 1970
    "There are more beginnings than there are ends to contain them."This arresting phrase caught my eye as I read this novel. It seems to say something about memory, which is discussed often during the course of the story ("Even the history I thought I’d kept was wrong"), but also about a a dominating theme of destiny:"But sometimes I wonder if you are right and if all of our choices are remnants of all the choices we made before. As if decisions were shards from the bombs of our previous actions."T "There are more beginnings than there are ends to contain them."This arresting phrase caught my eye as I read this novel. It seems to say something about memory, which is discussed often during the course of the story ("Even the history I thought I’d kept was wrong"), but also about a a dominating theme of destiny:"But sometimes I wonder if you are right and if all of our choices are remnants of all the choices we made before. As if decisions were shards from the bombs of our previous actions."The story is a re-working of a Greek tragedy. This isn’t immediately obvious as the text is slippery. We jump around between several time lines, characters shift (including their gender), there are monsters that may or may not be mythical. You have to read carefully to keep your bearings.But the good news is that Johnson’s narrative deserves as well as requires slow and careful reading. The text is filled with arresting phrases: this is a book where it is worth shutting yourself away and losing yourself in the writing as well as the story.Once you have worked out which Greek tragedy is being re-told, some of the pieces start to fall into place and the text becomes a bit easier to read. I am not going to say which tragedy that is, though, because working that out (unless you have seen it in other reviews) is part of the fun.Gretel is our main protagonist (an obvious nod to Hansel & Gretel, which is not a Greek tragedy, but makes phrases like “Words like breadcrumbs” more fun when you come across them). A lexicographer by trade, she is often reminded of her childhood on a houseboat when she and her mother invented words to form their own language. But Gretel has not seen her mother for 16 years, half of her lifetime and, for reasons explained in the story, she sets out to find her. This throws up other memories (for example, who was the strange boy who lived with them on the houseboat for a while one winter?). Gradually, we learn the answers. All of this is set on and around the river. Clearly, the river is important in many myths and legends. Here it is often dark and threatening, mysterious. As is the community that makes the rivers their home, itinerant and apparently a law unto themselves. (For some background, non-fiction reading about life on the water, Helen Babbs’ Adrift is an excellent read, although set in the middle of London rather than Oxfordshire). And, thinking of dark and mysterious, there is a dog that accompanies Gretel on part of her journey: given we realise quickly that this is a re-working (perhaps "re-imagining" would be better?) of a very old story, what part does that dog play? This is just one of the areas where the novel gives food for thought.This is a novel to make your head spin, but in a good way. The structure keeps you on your toes (but is not unmanageable). The language is a delight to read. The ideas thrown into the story set your brain buzzing.I loved this and I’m grateful to the Man Booker judging panel for bringing to my attention.
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  • Jonathan Pool
    January 1, 1970
    This is my fourth read of the Man Booker Prize Longlist 2018, and so far, the most difficult to fully absorb.There is a sense of menace and of foreboding from the start. The book’s central idea, embodied in “The Bonak” is introduced early. The Bonak recalls the Orwellian Room 101; the fears and phobias that sometimes come to us as nightmares in our sleep. The fear of walking in the woods, the hidden dangers that lurk under water in the deep. The fear of men, and groups of men, if you are a woman This is my fourth read of the Man Booker Prize Longlist 2018, and so far, the most difficult to fully absorb.There is a sense of menace and of foreboding from the start. The book’s central idea, embodied in “The Bonak” is introduced early. The Bonak recalls the Orwellian Room 101; the fears and phobias that sometimes come to us as nightmares in our sleep. The fear of walking in the woods, the hidden dangers that lurk under water in the deep. The fear of men, and groups of men, if you are a woman.The “Bonak” as a literal entity is the twin of the Greek Hydra, and the Scandinavian Kraken. Water demons have their embodiment in every culture. In Japan the Kappa is a demon whose name means "river child". Water, the river, the river community, life on a river boat, of barges, is endlessly fascinating. It’s an itinerant community operating with Its own set of local rules, outside the reach of the law.What is the book “about”. It will be interesting to hear Daisy Johnson’s insights. This is a novel that expects the reader to piece together various diversions. The Sophocles play, Oedipus Rex is clearly re-worked.The intrinsic complications and contradictions of patricide and sexual wrong doing has added spice with the introduction of gender fluidity.The reader is complicit, from an early stage in observing doomed relationships.It’s been quite a literary year for re- working Greek classicism and Shakespearean themes; and Daisy Johnson is a worthy addition to the list of c.21st century writers giving a contemporary feel to historic morality tales.Other parts of the book are whimsical, tangential, to say the least• Why does Otto, a dog, appear at all?• What are the meanings and significance of the chapter titles specifically delineated in the book?For example, Formed Of Debris or Beyond The Black Stump• Just who is Fiona, and why is she necessary? I really enjoy literature that has an immediate, almost brooding, effect on me; and the knowledge that there’s more to come upon reflection, and from others in the reading community.This is such a book, and so far, in what appears to be a strong Booker year, I think it has every chance of making the shortlist.
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  • Britta Böhler
    January 1, 1970
    The writing is beautiful (despite some silly statements like "Old people are a species of their own" that are scattered throughout the book), and atmospheric. But unfortunately, the story didnt work for me at all. (view spoiler)[Admittedly, it was a page turning read, mainly due to the suspense novel-structure with time jumps, shifting perspectives and many (many!) cliffhangers ("and then she told me"), after which - in old fashioned Patterson-style - the reader has to wait at least another two The writing is beautiful (despite some silly statements like "Old people are a species of their own" that are scattered throughout the book), and atmospheric. But unfortunately, the story didnt work for me at all. (view spoiler)[Admittedly, it was a page turning read, mainly due to the suspense novel-structure with time jumps, shifting perspectives and many (many!) cliffhangers ("and then she told me"), after which - in old fashioned Patterson-style - the reader has to wait at least another two chapters until the clue is finally revealed.But the book never quite made up its mind what it wanted to be or which story it wanted to tell and so it ended up telling too many which left most of them half-empty. The retelling of the Oedipus-myth would have been quite enough to fill the book, and maybe if this story had been given a little more thought and had been developped properly, the often hilarious literal transformation to the present could have been avoided. Imagine: you're a 16 year old teenager in the late 1990ies and your neighbour-friend who is a bit off but whom you like tells you after a birthday party that "you will kill your father and have sex with your mother". Of course you will have no doubts as to the truthfulness of this statement and so you pack your bags and leave the next day. Really? And then you just happen to stumble across your real father while wandering about the countryside... Again: really? (Greek mythology might get away with coincidences like this but a contemporary novelist doesn't.) The cluttering of the book with references to Grimm's Hänsel & Gretel plus the many half-developped sideplots - from finding a stray dog and child neglect to lexicography and how to deal with Alzheimer's - didnt help making the story more believable. Neither did the fact that Oedipus was a young girl dressing up as a boy. Some readers might call this 'layererd' storytelling but for me it was just muddled. And finally, in what felt like an attempt to clean up the mess, two of our main characters (Markus/Margot and Sarah) are simply killed off. And no, thats neither part of the Oedipus-story (the father is dead already) nor does it make much sense; but the book had to end somehow, right, and with only one main character alive (Gretel) the ending was swift and neat. And as for Gretel: she just goes back to her life. Of course. What else would you do after an adventure like this. (hide spoiler)]2*
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  • Roman Clodia
    January 1, 1970
    Once upon a time, it was rare to find literary re-workings of classical myth and fairy tales: now they’re everywhere. This book uses a skeleton of both ((view spoiler)[Oedipus, Hansel and Gretel (hide spoiler)]) upon which to hang a story of broken families and searches for home. The problem for me, and I’m putting this in spoiler tags for anyone who hasn’t yet read this book, is that the premise of the myth just doesn’t stand up in a modern context:(view spoiler)[we’re supposed to believe that Once upon a time, it was rare to find literary re-workings of classical myth and fairy tales: now they’re everywhere. This book uses a skeleton of both ((view spoiler)[Oedipus, Hansel and Gretel (hide spoiler)]) upon which to hang a story of broken families and searches for home. The problem for me, and I’m putting this in spoiler tags for anyone who hasn’t yet read this book, is that the premise of the myth just doesn’t stand up in a modern context:(view spoiler)[we’re supposed to believe that a girl who is told that she’ll kill her father and have sex with her mother believes her fate so profoundly that she runs away – this is a hard one to swallow psychologically and the very contemporary materiality of the world of the book with its water and boats and canals makes the imaginative leap difficult, at least in my case. (hide spoiler)]The writing is of that dreamy, lyrical prose style that we can find in many books that inhabit this fictional space – it veers into the opaque at times and can become imprecise under cover of being ‘poetic’. There are repeated images – oranges, for example – but I can’t see what they’re doing here (the golden apples of the Hesperides? Eve’s apple? Neither of these fit). Similarly, the concern with language: the narrator and her mother used made-up words between them, the narrator in the present is a lexicographer on the OED, the mother in the present is forgetting words due to her Alzheimer’s (and the loss of brain capacity is likened to the size of an orange) but the significance of all this – is there one? – is left unclear to me. I can see from other reviews that these repetitions delighted other readers but personally I can’t read their hermeneutic significance – and images without interpretational weight are empty of meaning. That words create bonds between people is hardly revelatory, surely? For me, this is a kind of sub-Angela Carter/Jeanette Winterson and the slew of mostly female authors who have followed them in their attention to archetypal stories and ‘dreamy’ (in all that word’s connotations) stylistics.
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  • Lee Monks
    January 1, 1970
    (3.5) Much to like here, and a fine debut novel by any yardstick. The story was always compelling, and the retelling (or retooling) was interesting. But Everything Under wasn't for me entirely convincing, and often seemed over-attenuated, over-fussy (on that note: why do writers use 'I was not' and 'I did not' so much, as opposed to 'I wasn't' and 'I didn't'? Is it 'more literary' to do so?). That said, you could see this winning the prize (it feels like a Booker book) and I hope it makes the sh (3.5) Much to like here, and a fine debut novel by any yardstick. The story was always compelling, and the retelling (or retooling) was interesting. But Everything Under wasn't for me entirely convincing, and often seemed over-attenuated, over-fussy (on that note: why do writers use 'I was not' and 'I did not' so much, as opposed to 'I wasn't' and 'I didn't'? Is it 'more literary' to do so?). That said, you could see this winning the prize (it feels like a Booker book) and I hope it makes the shortlist.
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  • Chris Haak
    January 1, 1970
    Definitely a candidate for the Booker this year. I absolutely love this novel! Very impressive, heartfelt and with a big ‘wow’ factor.
  • MisterHobgoblin
    January 1, 1970
    Everything Under is a transposition of an ancient Greek legend into modern-day England. I did not know which legend when I read the novel which allowed a slow dawning to take place. Other reviewers have named the legend and I cannot help feeling that knowing where things are heading would make the reading both simpler and less satisfying, Therefore, I will skirt around much of the plot.Having said that knowing the direction of travel would make the reading simpler, it must be said that without t Everything Under is a transposition of an ancient Greek legend into modern-day England. I did not know which legend when I read the novel which allowed a slow dawning to take place. Other reviewers have named the legend and I cannot help feeling that knowing where things are heading would make the reading both simpler and less satisfying, Therefore, I will skirt around much of the plot.Having said that knowing the direction of travel would make the reading simpler, it must be said that without this knowledge, the reading is far from straightforward. There are 8 main sections, each broken into subsections headed "The River", "The Hunt", "The Cottage", etc. These are in fact parallel narratives that continue through the novel. They are opaque in terms of who is narrating and when they take place. This is further complicated by some characters having more than one name and more than one role; and the general absence of names through much of the work. Timelines seem to clarify and then blur again. It is not easy to see how the narratives inter-relate and for the first quarter (at least) of the text, there is a fog of confusion. There are river boats, a senile woman, a lexicographer, a cast of people who live on the canals and in the woods... With time, little chinks of light are let into the narrative. Piece by piece, things start to fall into place. By three quarters, most pieces are in place and by the end, it is mostly transparent. It is as if the fog has lifted and some of the things that happened in the fog don't look too well in the clear light of day. Everything Under is actually a really dark and menacing work.That doesn't make it unlovely, though The description of the houseboat community is brilliant. I took this to be set in Oxford - where our lexicographer works - but perhaps that is adding two and two and getting five. The descriptions of unconventional childhoods, of fluid gender identity, of ambiguous sexuality are all fabulous. There are abandonments - walking away from children, walking away from families. There is the kindness of strangers mixed in with the threat of monsters - the canal thief and the Bonak. Everything Under feels perfectly balanced. The gradual reveal makes the book progressively easier to read and makes the reader feel smart as the penny drops, time after time, just before a significant detail is revealed. There is delicacy, there is complexity. I loved Everything Under.My only reservation is that the parallels to the Greek legend slightly diminish the experience and make something bizarre and quirky feel a bit contrived. As some novels grow in power after they have been put down, this one feels a little as though it is losing its edge. But that's just me; I am sure others will feel differently. It's still a bit of a masterpiece.
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  • Kiran Hargrave
    January 1, 1970
    Johnson's is a voice that haunts, and EVERYTHING UNDER seeped through to my bones. Reaching new depths hinted at in FEN, language and landscape turn strange, full of creeping horror and beauty. It is precise in its terror, and its tenderness. An ancient myth skillfully remade for our uncertain times.
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  • Bookish Chat
    January 1, 1970
    I was cheeky with this one kids. I asked the lovely folk at Vintage if I could perhaps pretty please have a copy for review and being the total doll faces that they are lo and behold it arrived.I bumped it right to the top of my TBR and the rest is history. This is the kind of book that I wish every one of my bookish pals were reading at the same time as me so that I at least had people to talk to about it as I was reading. I was bursting with thoughts and ideas and questions, questions, questi I was cheeky with this one kids. I asked the lovely folk at Vintage if I could perhaps pretty please have a copy for review and being the total doll faces that they are lo and behold it arrived.I bumped it right to the top of my TBR and the rest is history. This is the kind of book that I wish every one of my bookish pals were reading at the same time as me so that I at least had people to talk to about it as I was reading. I was bursting with thoughts and ideas and questions, questions, questions!.....not to mention feelings. Oh mate the feelings!Gretel works as a lexicographer, defining words for the dictionary. Words played a hugely important role in Gretel's childhood and upbringing with her mother on a canal boat on the river.It's not until Gretel is abandoned by her mother at 16 years old and sucked into the care and schooling system that she realises just how important words are. Her mother had brought her up using completely made up words that Gretel had no idea did not exist in normal everyday language in the outside world. Gretel and her mother Sarah live an isolated life, it's them against the world and sometimes Sarah against Gretel. Sarah clearly suffers with mental illness and alcoholism when Gretel is growing up and their lives are far from stable.After her mother's abandonment Gretel finds herself as an adult, trying to locate her mother. Ringing hospitals and morgues, trying to trace Sarah in order that she might be able to answer some questions and fill in some blanks in Gretel's childhood memories of their time on the boat. Gretel has vague recollections of a boy called Marcus who came to stay with them on the boat one winter for a month. She has only a patchy memory and feels she needs to know exactly what happened to him.We follow Gretel's childhood, the search for her mother and the present day having found her mother back on the river. In the present day Gretel is struggling with a clearly ailing mother, with what appears to be some form of altzheimers or dementia. A woman who Gretel wants to take care of but at the same time shake the truth out of.We also learn of Marcus's story, his links to Sarah and Gretel and the family he is estranged from and just what happened to him that winter he stayed on the river. A winter where Sarah and Gretel are obsessed with the 'Bonak', a river dwelling creature responsible for stealing items, animals, humans.....Marcus is already wary of what the river people are calling the Canal Thief, a creature that lives in the water but walks on land. A creature the canal communities are terrified of.The timeline of this book jumps all over the place but the chapters are clearly headed up to show what time thread you're in.The writing is just so beautiful and atmospheric that I can't even begin to do it justice. Lyrical, with such depth. Highly evocative, depicting the landscape, the river, the wildness of Sarah and Gretel and their tumultuous relationship.The characters all had many layers to discover. The character of Sarah I found absolutely fascinating. Troubled, bohemian, wild. Gretel by comparison, desperate to belong, desperate for normality. And Marcus, confused, lonely, abandoned, just wanting so much to belong.There were points in this book where my jaw dropped. There were points where I had to go back and reread what I had just read and let it sink in. Even the introduction had me thinking, had my brain ticking, had me tingling in anticipation of what I knew was to be an amazing book. I was not wrong. The sense of creeping realisation as the true horror of events unfolded just held me captivated.It's so difficult to put across the sheer magic of this book without giving too much away. I really want everyone to read it so that I have someone to talk to about it. I know that this book will stay ticking over in my mind for some time to come. I was going to say it feels almost fairytale-esque but I think that would be wrong. It's more mythical, magical, perfect.Utterly absorbing and compelling. I cannot recommend it highly enough.Honestly.Go.Get.It.
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  • Lady R
    January 1, 1970
    There is no doubt that Daisy Johnson can write - she has an amazing way with words & some sentences I just read & re-read or read aloud.... beautiful.Ultimately sadly this book was not for me.The shifting timeframes, characters & narrative became too muddled in a book that was already asking me to suspend belief too many times.It’s a very powerful & unsettling read that covers huge topics about family, loss, gender & fate & I can see this will probably become a widely rea There is no doubt that Daisy Johnson can write - she has an amazing way with words & some sentences I just read & re-read or read aloud.... beautiful.Ultimately sadly this book was not for me.The shifting timeframes, characters & narrative became too muddled in a book that was already asking me to suspend belief too many times.It’s a very powerful & unsettling read that covers huge topics about family, loss, gender & fate & I can see this will probably become a widely read & debated novel - overall it was just too fluid in structure & too far removed from my comfort zone for me to fully appreciate/enjoy it.
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  • Alan
    January 1, 1970
    A remarkable, shape-shifting, challenging novel. In my mission to get through this year’s Man Booker longlist Daisy Johnson’s re-working of the Oedipus myth is my first of this year’s crop, and it’s a very promising start.This is not an easy novel, let’s be clear. It challenges you to make connections, to understand the time-shifts as the narrative flows back and forward through time. Indeed, the metaphor of flowing is apt, as water – the river, the canal – is central to this story. The Oedipus A remarkable, shape-shifting, challenging novel. In my mission to get through this year’s Man Booker longlist Daisy Johnson’s re-working of the Oedipus myth is my first of this year’s crop, and it’s a very promising start.This is not an easy novel, let’s be clear. It challenges you to make connections, to understand the time-shifts as the narrative flows back and forward through time. Indeed, the metaphor of flowing is apt, as water – the river, the canal – is central to this story. The Oedipus myth – in which he is doomed to murder his father and have sex with his mother, despite attempting to outrun the prophecy – is given a gender-shifting twist and the reader has to tease out the connections. Who is Margot/Marcus? Why is Gretel searching for her mother Sarah? Who, or what, is the Bonak? There are riddles aplenty.Johnson’s novel is full of the elusiveness - the creativity - of language: Sarah has developed dementia and struggles at times to find the right words; the mother and daughter have a language of their own, into which they retreat from the outside world. Language makes us as much as we are defined by environment, our family, our genes. And stories make us – the myth of Oedipus overshadows the characters as the old-new story is played out. Fate, destiny, family: ‘The places we are born come back to us. They disguise themselves as words, memory loss, nightmares.’ As I said, a challenging book, but deeply moving, superbly written, and it will leave you thinking long after you finish it. I suspect a very strong contender for the Man Booker. Four stars for now, though I may come back to bump it up to 5!(Thank you to NetGalley and to the publisher for an ARC of this book).
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  • Callum Philbin
    January 1, 1970
    Elusive. Beautiful surreal writing that remains elusive throughout in terms of both plot and meaning. The book twists and turns, reveals plenty before concealing more and just when you think that you finally understand it all, Johnson flips the whole strange world on its head. The story revolves around the narrator Gretel who is looking for her Mother, Sarah, who abandoned her when she was 16 years old. She now works in Oxford updating dictionary entries and the tricky and tangled concept of lan Elusive. Beautiful surreal writing that remains elusive throughout in terms of both plot and meaning. The book twists and turns, reveals plenty before concealing more and just when you think that you finally understand it all, Johnson flips the whole strange world on its head. The story revolves around the narrator Gretel who is looking for her Mother, Sarah, who abandoned her when she was 16 years old. She now works in Oxford updating dictionary entries and the tricky and tangled concept of language is a key part of the novel. She sets out to find Sarah because she becomes convinced that she is in trouble. This is added to by a strange modern retelling of the Oedipus myth, a layered narrative that jumps between memories (without clear delineation) and a touching side story of loss and how it can impact our lives. This wonderful novel may give a blurred sense of fiction and reality, but the clarity of the emotions are visceral for the reader throughout. It is well worth the effort and it is well deserving of its nomination for the Man Booker.Probably the best book I have read this year.
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  • Benjamin Appleby-Dean
    January 1, 1970
    There's a tragedy at the heart of this book, for certain - an old cruel story reimagined and made fluid. But most of this extraordinary novel isn't about the tragedy itself but about what surrounds it - the lives of the people who came before and the wreckage that remained afterwards, attempts to rebuild and a slow slide into despair.The central relationship is betweeen a now-adult daughter and her elderly mother, trying to manage dementia and memory, telling each other fragments of a past that There's a tragedy at the heart of this book, for certain - an old cruel story reimagined and made fluid. But most of this extraordinary novel isn't about the tragedy itself but about what surrounds it - the lives of the people who came before and the wreckage that remained afterwards, attempts to rebuild and a slow slide into despair.The central relationship is betweeen a now-adult daughter and her elderly mother, trying to manage dementia and memory, telling each other fragments of a past that may not be entirely true. The crucial, terrible events that shaped them are given to us as a reimagining, an invented voice for a protagonist unable to supply his own.Just as in her short story collection, Fen, Daisy Johnson has the most extraordinary gift for capturing a particular landscape, from the stifling atmosphere of the river to the wildlife to the marginal, forgotten people who scrabble a living along it. Every scene there feels vividly, grittily real - scent and sound and texture layered to make this as much a tone poem as a novel.Don't go into Everything Under expecting a conventional story. You'll find closure and explanation - of a sort - but the real strength of this book is in a series of captured moments, rain and water and half-remembered words.
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  • James Orton
    January 1, 1970
    An incredible debut novel from Daisy Johnson, author of the eerily atmospheric collection of short stories, ‘Fen’.
  • miss.mesmerized mesmerized
    January 1, 1970
    Gretel does not grow up like other kids do. Her mother is different, they live on a boat, stop here and there and they even invent their own language. After the mother’s sudden disappearance, Gretel is left on her own devices and has to find a place in the world. The early fascination for words quite naturally makes her a lexicographer, a very lonesome job in which she updates dictionary entries. Even though she hadn’t been in contact with her mother for more than sixteen years, she hasn’t forgo Gretel does not grow up like other kids do. Her mother is different, they live on a boat, stop here and there and they even invent their own language. After the mother’s sudden disappearance, Gretel is left on her own devices and has to find a place in the world. The early fascination for words quite naturally makes her a lexicographer, a very lonesome job in which she updates dictionary entries. Even though she hadn’t been in contact with her mother for more than sixteen years, she hasn’t forgotten her and always feared that she might be the person behind a newspaper article about a fatal accident. When they are re-united, also the long lost memories of their former time together come back.Daisy Johnson’s debut novel is nominated on the Man Booker Prize 2018 longlist, itself already an honour, but even more so for an author at the age of only 28. It only takes a few pages into the novel to see why it easily could persuade the judges: it is wonderfully written, poetic and shows a masterly use of language:“I’d always felt that our lives could have gone in multiple directions, that the choices you made forced them into turning out the way they did. But maybe there were no choices; maybe there were no other outcomes.”Gretel’s has never been easily and having found her mother, seriously marked by her illness, doesn’t make it easier since she will never get answers but has to live with how her life turned out. What I found most striking was how Daisy Johnson easily transgresses boundaries in her novel: being female or male – does it actually matter? If you call a person Marcus or Margot, it’s just the same, you immediately recognize the person behind the label. Sarah and Gretel live on the water and on land, they blend in nature and don’t see a line between man and animal or plants, it’s just all there. The language itself also doesn’t know any limits; if need be, create new words to express what you want to say. And there is this creature, a fantastic being that can also exist either in Sarah’s mind or in this novel where so much is possible.Just like Gretel and her brother Hansel who were left in the woods but managed to find a way out, Gretel follows the crumbs to her mother, retraces the journey they did when she was young and with the help of the people she meets, tries to make sense of her own and especially her mother’s life.The structure is demanding since it springs backwards and forwards which I found difficult to follow at times. But the language’s smoothness and virtuosity compensate for this exceedingly.
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  • Sonja
    January 1, 1970
    Ich finde es sehr schwierig, dieses Buch zu rezensieren, das mich einerseits fasziniert, andererseits aber auch enorm gefrustet hat."Everything Under" soll in erster Linie eine Neuerzählung der Ödipusgeschichte sein, verwebt aber deutlich mehr Mythen und Märchen und steckt voller Andeutungen.Allem liegt die Frage zugrunde: Warum hat Sarah ihre Tochter im Alter von 16 Jahren verlassen?Diesem Geheimnis geht Gretel auf die Spur, als sie versucht, ihre Mutter zu finden. Dabei lernen wir jede Menge w Ich finde es sehr schwierig, dieses Buch zu rezensieren, das mich einerseits fasziniert, andererseits aber auch enorm gefrustet hat."Everything Under" soll in erster Linie eine Neuerzählung der Ödipusgeschichte sein, verwebt aber deutlich mehr Mythen und Märchen und steckt voller Andeutungen.Allem liegt die Frage zugrunde: Warum hat Sarah ihre Tochter im Alter von 16 Jahren verlassen?Diesem Geheimnis geht Gretel auf die Spur, als sie versucht, ihre Mutter zu finden. Dabei lernen wir jede Menge weitere Charaktere kennen, die nie einfach einzuordnen sind.Alle Figuren in diesem Buch sind vielschichtig, undurchschaubar und tragen mehr zur Verwirrung als zur Auflösung des Rätsels bei.Daisy Johnson hat ohne Frage einen sehr atmosphärischen Roman entworfen, der viele Fragen aufwirft, der zum Nachdenken anregt, mit Symbolik experimentiert und durchaus gut unerhält.Allerdings habe ich immer und immer wieder den roten Faden verloren, habe Figuren verwechselt, da ihre Story nicht immer klar gekennzeichnet ist und mich im Dickicht der Erzählstränge verloren.Auch dies ist ein Buch, dem ich irgendwann wohl eine zweite Chance geben werde, das mich aber momentan etwas überfordert.
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  • Adam
    January 1, 1970
    Oedipus reimagined in the mulch and moss of canals. Queasy, atmospheric, disorientating, scary, filmic, deft and beautiful language...both confuses yet engages the reader! Johnson is a sophisticated and rare talent- what I mean to say is, hers is a voice that is here to stay.
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  • Selen Isyar
    January 1, 1970
    Quite a dark read however interesting with its detailed atmosphere and layers of different stories.
  • Caroline Middleton
    January 1, 1970
    This year’s Elmet of the Man Booker Prize - gorgeously exacting language that nevertheless manages to leave a bland aftertaste.
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