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They (Faber Editions)
They (Faber Editions): 'Radical' - Carmen Maria Machado | Kay Dick
6 posts | 5 read | 9 to read
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kathedron
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Pickpick

Dystopia? Straight-up horror, more like! Artists and writers who persist in creating are maimed (like some kind of Dantean contrapasso); people who live alone are forced to relocate to windowless, doorless communal "retreats" where the TV is always on; those who show emotion are "cured"; mindless cruelty to animals... thank goodness this disorienting novella in connected stories wasn't any longer 'cause it's given me the heebie-jeebies, big time!

Bookwomble I read this earlier in the year and thought it was fantastic. I got the chills, too 😰 3mo
BarbaraBB Intriguing review. I‘ll stack! 3mo
37 likes2 stack adds2 comments
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vivastory
They | Kay Dick
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Pickpick

This strange slim book of linked stories first came to my attention over a year ago on an episode of Backlisted on Hughes' In a Lonely Place. Lucy Scholes' afterword compares They to Kavan's Ice. I was reminded of Kavan while reading They, but I was also reminded of John Wyndham's cosy catastrophes. In villages while friends & romantic partners talk about art & life they also wait for roving anonymous bands of people who sneak in & vandalize👇

vivastory their books & paintings. Subject to anxiety & random acts of violence, they attempt to make meaning of their unusual world. I found this book memorable & the portrayal of other citizens being the looming threat to be sadly relevant. 3mo
Bookwomble I agree with the sad relevance and the Wyndham vibe, as you noted elsewhere 😊 3mo
batsy Great review. Need to read this, Ice (sitting on my shelf for years!), and Wyndham (love the term "cosy catastrophes"!) 3mo
vivastory @batsy I think you'd love Ice. It's one of the stranger dystopian books I've read. Wyndham's Chrysalids is one of my favorites of the year. I was a bit reminded of The Slynx while reading it. 3mo
50 likes4 comments
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acw
They | Kay Dick
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Pickpick

Ominous! Not outright scary, but enough to keep the pages turning! Rich detail.

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underground_bks
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Mehso-so

In this lost queer dystopian horror novel from 1977, artists are under surveillance and threat of mutilation from “them,” a mysterious and pervasive mob. Dick is spare on the hard details and character development, but the sense of unease is masterful and in some ways this novella reminded me of the subtlety of Ishiguro‘s Never Let Me Go and the quotidian focus of Atwood‘s Handmaid‘s Tale. Important, but it doesn‘t make for a very satisfying read.

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Bookwomble
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Pickpick

Think Fahrenheit 451 crossed with, say, The Wicker Man or The Midwich Cuckoos, add a splash of Orwell & a touch of McGooghan's The Prisoner, & that might be close to They.
The overt brutality used by Them is relatively rare, but extreme when used. The menacing feeling of presence and surveillance results in a society which brutalises itself, through suspicion of difference & non-conformity. Artists are most despised for their personal vision, 👇🏼

Bookwomble ... and are increasingly persecuted and 'disappeared'.
The novella takes the form of discrete chapters, a series of vignettes centred on unnamed narrators (who, given certain events, must be more than one person) linked by the slowly developing socio-political setting. Little is explained, but it all feels sadly too comprehensible. The contrast between the idyllic rural settings & the brooding atmosphere of oppression is marvellously handled. 5⭐
10mo
BarbaraBB Oooh this sounds very good. 10mo
Bookwomble @BarbaraBB It really is 😊 10mo
vivastory I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt that this had a John Wyndham vibe👏 3mo
35 likes2 stack adds4 comments
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Bookwomble
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Subtitled, "A Sequence of Unease", Dick's '77 dystopian novella won a regional literary prize, & was largely forgotten until its recent republication.
"They" are a group of anti-intellectual demagogues, initially mocked as irrelevant philistines, but who build a base of populist support, resulting in the banning of books, the closure of art galleries, & the rounding up of writers & artists in concentration camps.
Thank goodness it's all fiction ?

25 likes2 stack adds