Consumables #99 Reads: The Luminaries

For many people, this time of year serves as a reminder of something. Guess which one of these things late October reminds me of?

1. As the weather gets colder, I realize that the holidays will soon be upon us and I need to gear up the decor and gifts (hint: it’s not this one).

2. As October marches on, I am reminded that I need to start planning a Halloween costume (nope, that’s not it).

3. As the days get shorter, I start to get the house ready for the long rainy months by cleaning gutters, pruning trees, buttoning up the house (what?).

4. Once the heat kicks on, I get out my autumnal recipes for soups, stews, squash, and pies (ha ha, “my recipes” do you even know me?).

5. I take a look at my reading goal for the year (the first time I have looked at it since January), and Freak the Eff Out because January Me thought I could read billions of books but October Me has never met January Me and now that they are meeting, October Me thinks January Me is a fucknut.

Last one. It’s that last one. Don’t guess. I’m telling you it’s that last one.

Part of my problem this year is that I keep reading really long books. 500, 600, 800 pages. WHY SO WORDY AUTHORS? YOU NEED TO CUT IT WITH SO MUCH BLAH BLAH.

The latest mongo book I read was The Luminaries. This is a book that wears folksy fedoras and suspenders. No wait, that’s the Lumineers. I bet if you put the Lumineers on a scale it would weigh as much as the hardcover of The Luminaries though. Did I mention so, so many pages? The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton, is a gorgeous book that appealed to me on several levels. First of all, the story has a delicious old timey feel, with a 19th century gold rush setting (only it’s New Zealand gold rush, not Deadwood style gold rush), chaplains, shipping agents, prostitutes, magnates, every one of whom is a little bit sketchy. The story is told through various viewpoints and has many intertwining threads so that there are lots of “oh!” moments where you are making connections as you put the larger story together. The main story is a mystery with vintage spooky overtones and if that’s all you want, you can read it for that, leave the rest and it will stand on its own. However, if you like extra elements of symbolism and fancy structure business (which is a literary term, trust me, I’m a librarian), this has plenty of that as well. Each of the main characters is associated with either a zodiac sign or a planet, and each chapter (12 of them) is exactly half as long as the last, which if nothing else is a way to help the pacing speed along when you’ve got that many pages to read. It sort of feels like you’re reading downhill, going faster and faster just because of chapter length. The thing I felt most impressed with was that each vignette within the book was carefully and specifically told but that never felt disjointed from the incredibly big overall story that was pushing forward.

The Luminaries is a good choice if you want to submerge into a nice long yarn. Plus, if you read it in print rather than e-book, your guns will totally be cut by the end. So, brain and brawn. Bonus.

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2 comments

  1. I think your January You and my January Me are friends. And my October Me agrees. I set a ridiculously high reading goal for the year, and now I’m off to read a ridiculous amount of Japanese manga in a desperate attempt to play catch up. (I also just added The Luminaries to my Goodreads to-read list. God help me.)

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