Michel Faber’s “Under the Skin”

Return of the Kanamits…?

It will be very hard to write about this book without giving away too much.  So the “hint” above goes only to those among my readers who are Twilight Zone fans…

I learned of this book through Alex’s blog, The Literary Nomad.  This book blog has a great concept: the blogger roams the world by reading books set in different countries and each post is about the book, but also has background about the country it’s set in.  What a cool idea.  I wish I’d thought of it first…   Alex’s post about this novel may be found here

Under the Skin is a rather disturbing novel.  Set in Scotland, but not one Sir Walter Scott’s Waverly or Mannering would recognize.  The action takes place in the present day, revolving around a woman driver who drives up and down the A9 highway looking for hitchhikers. Specifically, very fit male hitchhikers.  The unique thing about this book is how slowly (and tantalizingly) what is really going on is revealed to the reader.  It seems that the main character, Isserly, is clearly an alien.  But if so, why does she refer to herself and her fellow aliens so often as “human beings?”

We also learn that Isserly has been surgically altered to appear as she does.  We do not learn quickly what her former form looked like.  We do not know why she is picking up these men and what is being done with them.  (We can probably guess, though, can’t we?)

Apparently a film version of the novel is also in the works, starring none other than Scarlett Johansson as the main character (pant, pant).  That will be something to look forward to…

I’m not sure how or for whom to recommend this book.  It’s probably closer to science fiction than anything but rather defies categorization.  I think it is also part social commentary.  It’s short and can be read in a couple days.  Faber’s writing style is haunting and exciting at the same time.  I enjoyed it, but I also don’t have a weak stomach… 😉

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March Reading – The Month Ahead…

Good riddance to February and all the brutal and unpleasant weather that came with it. Now it’s March. The first month of Spring! (I know, the first three weeks are still Winter, but I don’t care) The only “problem” with Spring that I can think of is that, with the weather being nicer outdoors, its harder to curl up and read a lot and stay indoors.

I nearly finished my tenth book of the year last night (To Kill a Mockingbird, which I’m reading in “preparation” for attending a stage version with my Mom on Sunday), and with February being a short month, I feel I’ve kept up a good pace so far this year. But what lies ahead in March…?

Well, I have two book club obligatory reads. One is The Help, the wildly popular bestseller by Kathryn Stocket. I had thought about buying this as an audio book (I’ve never listened to an entire audio book before. I bought one once before, thinking I’d listen during my daily commute, but traffic’s command of my attention seems to easily trump audio book-listening) since I still have a gift card leftover from the holidays, but then I listened to an excerpt on iTunes and it didn’t really grab me. One of the members of my book club “reads” almost exclusively via audio books and some day I want to try it, but I don’t think this will be the book. The second book club read is Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut for the KVMLBC. This will be a re-read for me, but now that I’m more familiar with this author I hope to get a new perspective. I also started reading a strange novel, Under the Skin, by Michel Faber – a book that I learned of via the blogosphere.

Let’s see… What else? Well, of course I’ll be continuing my short story reading project, which I have enjoyed immensely thus far (like you couldn’t tell), but I think I may also wrap up the William Trevor collection of stories (only three to go!) and get that book under my belt as well. I also downloaded the Anthony Trollope book, The Small House at Allington after hearing about it in the story, After Rain. It’s dauntingly long, though, and I confess I’m afraid to start it. I’ve NEVER read any Trollope, though, and I’ve long thought that this is a serious gap in my cultural literacy that should be addressed (sooner rather than later).

What about you? “What’s in your wallet?” Er, I mean, what’s in your reading future for March? As always, I’d love to hear about it…

-Jay

Sent from my iPad