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Harrow: A novel af Joy Williams
Indlæser...

Harrow: A novel (udgave 2021)

af Joy Williams (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1959137,432 (2.9)8
"In her first novel since The Quick and the Dead, the legendary writer takes us into an uncertain landscape after the environmental apocalypse, a world in which only the man-made has value, but some still wish to salvage the authentic. Once nature as we know it is dead, the pursuit of happiness fades into insignificance, food is scarce, and even time doesn't progress in an organized fashion. Harrow follows the picaresque journey of Khristen--a teenager who, her mother believes, was marked by greatness as a baby when she died for a moment and then came back to life. After Khristen's failing boarding school for gifted teens closes its doors, and she finds that her mother has disappeared, she washes up at a "resort" on the shores of a mysterious, putrid lake the elderly residents there call "Big Girl." In a rotting honeycomb of rooms, these old ones plot actions to punish corporations and people they consider culpable in the destruction of the final scraps of nature's beauty. What will Khristen and Jeffrey, the precocious ten-year-old boy she meets there, learn from this "baggy seditious lot, in the worst of health but with kamikaze hearts, determined to refresh, through crackpot violence, a plundered earth"? Rivetingly strange and beautiful, delivered with Williams's searing, deadpan wit, their intertwined tale of paradise lost serves to commit us anew to that paradise, and to their reasons--against all reasonableness--to try and recover something of it"--… (mere)
Medlem:obliterature
Titel:Harrow: A novel
Forfattere:Joy Williams (Forfatter)
Info:Knopf (2021), 224 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:Ingen

Work Information

Harrow af Joy Williams

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» Se også 8 omtaler

Viser 1-5 af 9 (næste | vis alle)
I didn't "get" it, but it was intriguing enough that I would maybe reread in the future. ( )
  audient_void | Jan 6, 2024 |
Almost every day I feel guilty. I felt guilty when I watered the dropping hydrangeas during the 95 degree heat wave and I feel guilty when I purchase foods packaged in plastic. I feel guilty when a new purchase is delivered to our door and when I throw out a product I hadn’t used up but don’t like.

Sure, I have recycled for fifty years, eat vegetarian at least 60% of the time, organic garden and buy from a local farmer. We turned in a three year lease car with only $8,000 miles total on it. We insulated the house and upgraded the windows and appliances.

Nothing is enough. Humanity has used and abused the world for our own selfish comfort and the consequences are unavoidable. It’s already happening.

Despair, they explained to me, was caused by the attempt to live a life of virtue, justice and understanding. Despair arose when one tried to understand and justify human existence and behavior.
from Harrow by Joy Williams

I see people all around who seem to ignore what is happening, who live the lifestyle they feel they have earned. Why don’t I just stop thinking about it? Live the life I earned? Spend our money without regret? I could pity the children and grandchildren and greatgrandchildren of our generation and call it enough.

I was hesitant when I picked up Joy Williams’ Harrow. I knew she was a challenging writer. I found it transformative. It was like going through the looking-glass into a world where conventional novelistic norms don’t apply. I had to look up snippets of quotes and the Kafka story The Hunter Gracchus that informs the third part of the book.

The novel is a mindboggling, emotional ride into a house of horrors that flays open humanity’s original sin of self-centered narcissism.

In a near-future world without trees, animals, or clean water, a girl leaves her school to seek her mother, traveling though a blasted landscape and encountering bizarre communities of people. Gangs of youth. Elderly planning terrorist acts against the criminals of the environmental collapse.

…for all intents and purposes, the apocalypse had pretty much occurred. The incomprehensible beauty of nature was no more, but most had accepted the destruction done in their name. It was over and now it could begin, was the way those on the outside justified their refreshed complacency.
from Harrow by Joy Williams

Khristen is our innocent, who as a child had died and returned to life, or so her mother believed. She is neither dead not alive to her mother. She was sent away to school and at the collapse went on the road to find her mother at the last place she knew she had been. Arriving at the resort, run by Lola and Gordon, her mother long gone, she stays for a while among the elderly intent on acts of terrorism against the enemies of nature.

Before he disappeared, Gordon and Lol had been reading Joseph Conrad, and Williams inserts a sentence fragment: “the last utterance will formulate, strange as it may appear, some hope now to us utterly inconceivable.” I put the sentence into the search bar and up came Henry James–An Appreciation, 1905. I read the document. And read it again. And its words haunted me into my dreams.

Conrad wrote that Henry James’ work shows no “suggestions of finality, nowhere a hint of surrender,” until the “brutality of our common fate” brings an end. Then, Conrad imagines the end of the world, “when the last aqueduct shall have crumbled to pieces, the last airship fallen to the ground, the last blade of grass have died upon a dying earth,” thinking of the last artist alive will be there to speak. And then comes that sentence, that the last words from the last artist will offer inconceivable hope, will “not know when it is beaten.” My head was spinning, synapses lighting up, trying to encompass what I was reading. Fiction, Conrad tells us, is nearer truth than history.

I am still grappling with that essay, and with Harrow. Instead of mourning what was lost, Williams offers a world that has embraced an attitude of anti-nature, ready to chop down the last tree, not loving the world becoming a freedom. It is our ordained future, based on humanity’s fatal flaw that has brought us to this point?

We look at what we have wrought. Can we punish those responsible? Can we atone? Can we maintain consumerism and heal the wounds at the same time? Is it too late? Can the pens of our artists offer hope?

The questions are raised. How will we answer?

Thank you to #VintageAnchor for a #freebook. ( )
1 stem nancyadair | Aug 18, 2022 |
Don't know what to make of this. Is it deep or incantatory drivel? A quote from the back of the 'novel': 'Her fiction is easy to follow but hard to fathom.' Indeed. It strikes me as a mash up of William Burroughs And Joan Didion. ( )
  bookboy804 | Apr 19, 2022 |
I have not read this author before but recognize her abilities in these sentences that are both fascinating and frustrating. We are presented with a world after the apocalypse, seen mostly through the eyes of a young girl named Khristen. After her boarding school closes down, her mother disappears, and she finds herself at a retreat of sorts where we are introduced to various octogenarians who plan suicide missions against those that have caused this despairing existence. “They were a gabby seditious lot,” Williams writes, “in the worst of health but with kamikaze hearts, an army of the aged and ill, determined to refresh, through crackpot violence, a plundered earth.”
There is also a child judge who is frustrated trying to dispense justice for the multitudes and wrestles with the meaning of life. ( I think). But, and I thank D. Gardner of the NYT for this, there are these fragments of wonder:
“What came first in your opinion, Lola, the rabid rain or the birdless dawn?”; “Future humans, such a reckless concept”; “There aren’t meteors in meteor showers anymore. It’s just space junk from rockets and satellites”; “Have you ever seen anything stiller than a ham?”; “Something definitely had gone wrong. Even the dead were dismayed”; “That light show at the corner of your eyes is not a celebration in your honor, it’s the tumor moving in.”
“The world’s heartbreaking beauty will remain when there is no heart to break for it.” ( )
  novelcommentary | Feb 6, 2022 |
How a book penned by an award-winning author that's built on a promising premise and features several intriguing characters could end up being so unfulfilling is a mystery to me. As hard as I tried, I just couldn't get into "Harrow." Some reviewers have suggested that Williams' work is not an "easy read." I typically enjoy books that challenge me. Candidly, "Harrow" simply bored me. ( )
1 stem brianinbuffalo | Jan 12, 2022 |
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"In her first novel since The Quick and the Dead, the legendary writer takes us into an uncertain landscape after the environmental apocalypse, a world in which only the man-made has value, but some still wish to salvage the authentic. Once nature as we know it is dead, the pursuit of happiness fades into insignificance, food is scarce, and even time doesn't progress in an organized fashion. Harrow follows the picaresque journey of Khristen--a teenager who, her mother believes, was marked by greatness as a baby when she died for a moment and then came back to life. After Khristen's failing boarding school for gifted teens closes its doors, and she finds that her mother has disappeared, she washes up at a "resort" on the shores of a mysterious, putrid lake the elderly residents there call "Big Girl." In a rotting honeycomb of rooms, these old ones plot actions to punish corporations and people they consider culpable in the destruction of the final scraps of nature's beauty. What will Khristen and Jeffrey, the precocious ten-year-old boy she meets there, learn from this "baggy seditious lot, in the worst of health but with kamikaze hearts, determined to refresh, through crackpot violence, a plundered earth"? Rivetingly strange and beautiful, delivered with Williams's searing, deadpan wit, their intertwined tale of paradise lost serves to commit us anew to that paradise, and to their reasons--against all reasonableness--to try and recover something of it"--

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