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None of This Is Normal: The Fiction of Jeff VanderMeer

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How the otherworldly worlds created by the author of the Southern Reach Trilogy speak to—and even affect—our own If ever a moment and a writer were made for each other, that time is now and Jeff VanderMeer is that writer. Reaching more and more readers as his fantastic fiction delves deeper and deeper into the true weirdness of our day, VanderMeer presents a unique opportu How the otherworldly worlds created by the author of the Southern Reach Trilogy speak to—and even affect—our own If ever a moment and a writer were made for each other, that time is now and Jeff VanderMeer is that writer. Reaching more and more readers as his fantastic fiction delves deeper and deeper into the true weirdness of our day, VanderMeer presents a unique opportunity to explore the cultural frictions and fault lines in today’s—and tomorrow’s— literary landscape.  In the first book-length study of this provocative writer, Benjamin J. Robertson focuses on the three major series that have propelled VanderMeer to prominence (his Vennis fictions, Ambergris novels, and Southern Reach Trilogy) as well as his recent stand-alone novel Borne. Most salient for Robertson is how VanderMeer grapples with the transformation of human meaning and being in the contemporary moment. None of This Is Normal reveals how VanderMeer creates fictions that directly address our Anthropocene epoch, in which humanity must reckon with the unprecedented nature of its impact on the environment and with the consequent obsolescence of its methods of representing itself in this altered world.  In Robertson’s reading it becomes startlingly clear that certain fiction, especially when willing to abandon humanist assumptions about history, has the power to not simply show us a world “out there” but to actively participate in that world. As realist fiction and even science fiction conventionally reduce the scale and complexity of the Anthropocene to human-sized dimensions, None of This Is Normal shows how VanderMeer’s work conjures what Robertson calls a “fantastic materiality”: a reality that stands apart from us as a model of thinking, irreducible to our own.


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How the otherworldly worlds created by the author of the Southern Reach Trilogy speak to—and even affect—our own If ever a moment and a writer were made for each other, that time is now and Jeff VanderMeer is that writer. Reaching more and more readers as his fantastic fiction delves deeper and deeper into the true weirdness of our day, VanderMeer presents a unique opportu How the otherworldly worlds created by the author of the Southern Reach Trilogy speak to—and even affect—our own If ever a moment and a writer were made for each other, that time is now and Jeff VanderMeer is that writer. Reaching more and more readers as his fantastic fiction delves deeper and deeper into the true weirdness of our day, VanderMeer presents a unique opportunity to explore the cultural frictions and fault lines in today’s—and tomorrow’s— literary landscape.  In the first book-length study of this provocative writer, Benjamin J. Robertson focuses on the three major series that have propelled VanderMeer to prominence (his Vennis fictions, Ambergris novels, and Southern Reach Trilogy) as well as his recent stand-alone novel Borne. Most salient for Robertson is how VanderMeer grapples with the transformation of human meaning and being in the contemporary moment. None of This Is Normal reveals how VanderMeer creates fictions that directly address our Anthropocene epoch, in which humanity must reckon with the unprecedented nature of its impact on the environment and with the consequent obsolescence of its methods of representing itself in this altered world.  In Robertson’s reading it becomes startlingly clear that certain fiction, especially when willing to abandon humanist assumptions about history, has the power to not simply show us a world “out there” but to actively participate in that world. As realist fiction and even science fiction conventionally reduce the scale and complexity of the Anthropocene to human-sized dimensions, None of This Is Normal shows how VanderMeer’s work conjures what Robertson calls a “fantastic materiality”: a reality that stands apart from us as a model of thinking, irreducible to our own.

56 review for None of This Is Normal: The Fiction of Jeff VanderMeer

  1. 4 out of 5

    rebecca

    Ben Robertson is an insightful, deliberate scholar of the Weird. As this is the first booklength effort to explore ways in and out and possibly in between the layers of reality inherent in both the works of Jeff Vandermeer and the academic literature on critical literary analysis, it isn’t possible to locate Robertson’s book in relationship to other Vandermeer analysis, but I consider it a useful and interesting entry point into the critical theory work on fiction and the environment and horror Ben Robertson is an insightful, deliberate scholar of the Weird. As this is the first booklength effort to explore ways in and out and possibly in between the layers of reality inherent in both the works of Jeff Vandermeer and the academic literature on critical literary analysis, it isn’t possible to locate Robertson’s book in relationship to other Vandermeer analysis, but I consider it a useful and interesting entry point into the critical theory work on fiction and the environment and horror in the modern world.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    Mr. Robertson occasionally flirts with coherence, but if you're looking for intelligible commentary on the writings of Jeff Vandermeer this book, unfortunately, is not it. Mr. Robertson occasionally flirts with coherence, but if you're looking for intelligible commentary on the writings of Jeff Vandermeer this book, unfortunately, is not it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Justin Groot

    Fascinating even though I only understood maybe 65% of it!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sean Guynes

    A thorough and compelling reading of VanderMeer's oeuvre, and why he--and literature, more generally--matter. A thorough and compelling reading of VanderMeer's oeuvre, and why he--and literature, more generally--matter.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Feral Academic

    This was a smart but empty book. This is why people hate theory: when we take things as real as ecological collapse and turn it into an abstraction where our priority, it seems, is to avoid anthropocentrism because we don't want to be anthropocentric. I don't want to be anthropocentric but I have fucking reasons for that that I would fucking share instead of taking my readers down the rabbit hole of formal experimentation for the sake of intellectual purity without drawing out the ethical and pe This was a smart but empty book. This is why people hate theory: when we take things as real as ecological collapse and turn it into an abstraction where our priority, it seems, is to avoid anthropocentrism because we don't want to be anthropocentric. I don't want to be anthropocentric but I have fucking reasons for that that I would fucking share instead of taking my readers down the rabbit hole of formal experimentation for the sake of intellectual purity without drawing out the ethical and personal and political stakes. Referring to Trump's election as proof that we're facing a crisis of liberalism isn't fucking enough to make this book relevant. Some real ivory tower bullshit. Doesn't help that I spent time to read this for a paper during the point in the semester where every second of my time is precious to me.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sheri Konschak

    Not a genre I read. I won this book in a Good Reads giveaway or I would not have it. I plan on donating it to my local library. I'm sure there's someone interested in this kind of book. I rated it low but only because I didn't read it. Not a genre I read. I won this book in a Good Reads giveaway or I would not have it. I plan on donating it to my local library. I'm sure there's someone interested in this kind of book. I rated it low but only because I didn't read it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Duriel Meisner

  8. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  9. 5 out of 5

    spooky blossom.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Zbyszek

  11. 5 out of 5

    Christy

  12. 4 out of 5

    mh

  13. 4 out of 5

    Emma Knickelbine

  14. 4 out of 5

    Petronella

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Cheresnick

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ronan Johnson

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mariah Edwards

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sam

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kes

  21. 5 out of 5

    Josh

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cody Foster

  23. 4 out of 5

    PietjePuk

  24. 4 out of 5

    Paperclippe

  25. 5 out of 5

    Scott

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Shlosberg

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

  28. 4 out of 5

    Vladimir

  29. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

  30. 5 out of 5

    Loretta Gaffney

  31. 5 out of 5

    Catherben

  32. 4 out of 5

    Fabio

  33. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  34. 5 out of 5

    Gabby-Lily Raines

  35. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  36. 5 out of 5

    Kim Ellis

  37. 4 out of 5

    Judy

  38. 4 out of 5

    Charissa Rate

  39. 4 out of 5

    Kitten Foxx

  40. 5 out of 5

    Micielle

  41. 5 out of 5

    Haley

  42. 4 out of 5

    Emily

  43. 4 out of 5

    Ann Ellis

  44. 4 out of 5

    Lourdes Rivera

  45. 4 out of 5

    Stile Teckel

  46. 5 out of 5

    Karl Stenger

  47. 5 out of 5

    Cassie Driggs

  48. 5 out of 5

    Fran Whitley

  49. 4 out of 5

    Melly Mel

  50. 5 out of 5

    J. Harding

  51. 4 out of 5

    Karyn Palmer

  52. 4 out of 5

    Lou

  53. 4 out of 5

    Barbie Campbell

  54. 5 out of 5

    F

  55. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  56. 4 out of 5

    Yusuf Nasrullah

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