Impossible Views of the World
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[[I was given a free copy of this book in return for my honest review.]]
I felt so lied to.
Stella Krakus, a curator at Manhattan’s renowned Central Museum of Art, is having the roughest week in approximately ever. Her soon-to-be ex-husband (the perfectly awful Whit Ghiscolmbe) is stalking her, a workplace romance with “a fascinating, hyper-rational narcissist” is in freefall, and a beloved colleague, Paul, has gone missing. Strange things are afoot: CeMArt’s current exhibit is sponsored by a Belgian multinational that wants to take over the world’s water supply, she unwittingly stars in a viral video that’s making the rounds, and her mother–the imperious, impossibly glamorous Caro–wants to have lunch. It’s almost more than she can overanalyze.
But the appearance of a mysterious map, depicting a 19th-century utopian settlement, sends Stella–a dogged expert in American graphics and fluidomanie (don’t ask)–on an all-consuming research mission. As she teases out the links between a haunting poem, several unusual novels, a counterfeiting scheme, and one of the museum’s colorful early benefactors, she discovers the unbearable secret that Paul’s been keeping, and charts a course out of the chaos of her own life.
Pulsing with neurotic humor and dagger-sharp prose, Impossible Views of the World is a dazzling debut novel about how to make it through your early thirties with your brain and heart intact.
I didn’t write my own version of the summary because I’m trying to prove a point. The cover which has been showcased down at the bottom of the page is also there to prove a point.
And that is that Impossible Views of the World was not what was advertised. I almost wanted to go to the publisher and shake them. Guys, I know that you want to sell books, but come on now, this is getting ridiculous.
The book in tone has a 30s kind of vibe. The mentions of videos actually makes the book feel anachronistic and I wish that it had been set in the 1930s and that the protagonist had been a little bit more likeable.
It was supposed to be sharp, I knew that much. The prose can be sharp enough to cut yourself on, but that doesn’t make the novel enjoyable to read.
The prose is well-written and the idea of chasing through ancient texts to solve a mystery of a person should be right up my alley, but the mystery is constantly interrupted by Stella and her life.
The other people in Stella’s life are the metaphorical bulls in the china shop, surprising as they enter and often leaving us with a feeling of “why? What did that add to the story?” The answer is usually nothing.
I wish that there had either been more focus on it being Stella’s narrative or if there had been less focus on the side-characters in order to focus on the mystery.
It doesn’t help that so many of the side characters (and in a lot of ways, Stella herself) feel like caricatures. They are so often one note and unlikeable that I would be wishing I could skip ahead even as I read.
But I think the true issue with Impossible Views of the World lies in the first impressions it makes. I was so ready for this book, I was ready for some cutting wit and some whimsical adventures, but for all the beauty of the cover… Impossible Views of the World inhabits an increasingly ugly world.
It’s not even ugly in a way that we could find the beauty of it. It’s dry, patrician, and bloodless.
Don’t judge the book by its cover. Read a sample before buying.