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Welcome to Galactic Suburbia’s spoilerific book club for 20 December, 2011. This time we’re tackling Yarn, by Jon Armstrong. It is totally full of spoilers. Please only listen to this podcast if you’ve read the book, plan never to read the book, or really and truly don’t mind spoilers.


authors & books mentioned:
Philip K Dick
Janet Catherine Berlo - Quilting Lessons - notes from the scrapbook of a writer & quilter
Jennifer Chiaverini
The Friday Night Knitting Club novels - Kate Jacobs

GREY up for grabs - comment with your thoughts on Yarn and Alex will choose a random winner.

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  • Jo

    Ok, so this is kind of like a de-lurk and a comment and a comp entry all at once …

    First of all: Hi! I was introduced to the podcast by lauredhel at “Hoyden About Town” a few months ago, although have only been listening since I got a new phone and discovered you’d moved to podbean (my old phone did not want to play with your old podcast). I have been gradually listening my way forwards and backwards since then. I’m picking up recs and generally enjoying the discussions - so, thanks! The Yarn podcast coincided with the start of my holidays and a bit of a spending spree at my local indie bookshop, and so I figured I’d give the book a go.

    My impression of it was somewhere between Tansy’s and Alisa’s. I did not go in with particular expectations, so I wasn’t disappointed in the same way Alisa was (and although I do a lot of craft-y and yarn-y things myself, it has never formed the basis of any significant community for me). Like Tansy, I enjoyed the writing and the vocab and the world-building.

    But the whole thing was a bit too empty for me. I felt like I was being told things that had happened without ever getting to the point or the climax of the story. Yes, yes, ripping a thread from Bunny was a climax. But it didn’t feel particularly climactic to me, perhaps because nothing really seemed to happen as a result of it. And I never sympathised with Tane, which didn’t help with the general feeling of emptiness.

    A couple of comments on your comments. First, I can’t remember whether it was Tansy or Alisa (it’s now been a couple of days since I listened to the podcast) who said that she would have expected someone to be finding a bit more pleasure in the fashion that was going on. I did get a sense that Tane did take pleasure in his work _now_. However, I agree that his attitude towards women’s clothes is a bit off.

    Someone said that there was no single pleasant character in the book. I disagree. I liked Pheff (Tane’s present assistant). But he was a bit one dimensional.

    Also, rather than being a particularly twisty twist, I thought the fact that Tane was Bunny’s son was obvious - ok, not from the start, but from a significant number of pages before the denouement. What I did _not_ understand was why Tane’s father had stolen him to keep him in the slubs, why Tane was allowed to live after he ripped the thread from Bunny, and how he got to where he is in the “present”. I actually think that those details could potentially have made a much more interesting story (or at least, would have helped flesh it out a bit).

    Finally, for the record, I totally agree with Tansy (I think?) about the abhorrent use of the only apparently trans* character as something of a villain. I don’t think this was done maliciously, but at the very least, it uses trans*-ness (or something very like it) as a plot twist. Can we please stop doing that? Kthx.

    I would be interested in reading Grey, to see what else Armstrong does with the world-building and language and vocab, so Alex, please add me to your random list for the draw.

    Thanks again to all three of you for the podcasts generally.

    Dec 30, 2011 at 11:54 am
  • Susan Loyal

    Hi. I abandoned Yarn about a third of the way through. I’d read Grey and thought that it was interesting but not altogether successful, and I’d hoped that the second novel would build on the author’s strengths (use of language and world building by implication rather than exposition) and improve the areas I found weak (characterization and plotting). I found it to be more of the same and pitched it, with some sense that I might someday pick it up and push through to the end. That was nearly a year ago.

    I very much enjoyed your discussion.

    FishpondWorld has just provided me with a copy of The Courier’s New Bicycle. It’s looking like a good candidate for the Galactic Suburbia award to me. Fortunately for my household, there are leftovers in the fridge. Ta.

    Jan 1, 2012 at 1:58 am