My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

ARC Review: The Mountain by Paul Yoon

Please Note:  I received an advance reader's copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
In The Mountain, Paul Yoon displays his subtle, ethereal, and strikingly observant style with six thematically linked stories, taking place across several continents and time periods and populated with characters who are connected by their traumatic pasts, newly vagrant lives, and quests for solace in their futures. Though they exist in their own distinct worlds (from a sanatorium in the Hudson Valley to an inn in the Russian far east) they are united by the struggle to reconcile their traumatic pasts in the wake of violence, big and small, spiritual and corporeal. A morphine-addicted nurse wanders through the decimated French countryside in search of purpose; a dissatisfied wife sporadically takes a train across Spain with a much younger man in the wake of a building explosion; a lost young woman emigrates from Korea to Shanghai, where she aimlessly works in a camera sweat shop, trying fruitlessly to outrun the ghosts of her past.

When I requested The Mountain, by Paul Yoon, from NetGalley, I admit I did not realize it was a collection of short stories.  This format has always been a challenge for me.  I have a hard time with the brevity of the tale, and often feel that the characters are not developed enough for me to be engaged.  But I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  With an economy of words, the author quickly sets a tone for each story and makes the reader care about each character.  The result is a group of stories that will haunt your dreams, and perhaps cause some nightmares, too. 

What I Liked:
Stories Connection:
According to the books description, each story is somehow associated to another in the collection.  Sometimes the connection is obvious, but most of the time, I had to really think about what one story attached to another.  It was a fun challenge to figure this out.

I thought the writing of the book to be beautiful in it's prose.  Paul Yoon was able to quickly create circumstances where these characters existed and searched for meaning and connection.  Many of the settings are times and places that are dealing with the aftermath of war.  As displaced people try to reestablish their lives, they seem to grasp at any memory they may have to latch on to a moment when they felt safe and happy.

What I Was Mixed About:
Many of the characters in each story are wanderers who seem let random circumstances carry them from one situation to another.  They seemed adrift in the world, without the usual ties of family, friends, community, or careers.  This passivity was hard for me to accept.  Don't most people have some intent each day, if for nothing else than to eat and find shelter for the night's rest?  They all seemed to be searching for purpose, which was probably the point.  But I found it hard to believe that people could be so random in major life choices.

What I Didn't Like:
Lack Of Resolution:
I still have problems with the short story format.  While these stories were beautifully written, they were snapshots into the lives of these people.  Not much was resolved.  Since the author was able to create such vivid characters, I found this to be frustrating.  I cared about the people in each story and wanted to see how things would be resolved.   The result is that these stories are beautiful, but rather bleak.






Release Date:  August 15th, 2017

Genre:  Short Story Fiction

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster

Format:  ARC E-Book

Length:  224 pages

I think this is an exquisitely written book.  If you enjoy short stories, then I think you will appreciate these tales.  Reading these will challenge you as a reader, and leave you hoping all these lost people finally find their way home.

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2019 Reading Challenge
MsArdychan has read 10 books toward her goal of 120 books.


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