This isn’t really a review, just a rant, because I’m stalling. I’m supposed to be getting ready to go to the dentist but I’m writing this instead. Don’t tell the hygienist. There is this great line by comic Steven Wright that I always think of when it’s time again for a dental
torture visit. He says, in that totally deadpan voice of his, “My dental hygienist is cute. Every time I visit, I eat a whole package of Oreo cookies while waiting in the lobby. Sometimes she has to cancel the rest of the afternoon’s appointments.” I’m kind of in the mood to follow his advice.
Which brings me to the rant.
I finished reading Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand by Samuel Delany last night in the bath—and nearly threw it across the room when I realized it’s only the first half of the story, it ends on a cliffhanger, and it will probably never be finished.
WHY, WHY YOU DO THIS TO ME. An amazing, brilliant, complicated, weird, eye-popping, thought-provoking, hard to read at times, gorgeous, BOOK.
But it’s ONLY THE FIRST HALF!
GAHHHHHHHH. I suppose I’ll have to go get a goddamn copy of Review of Fucking Contemporary Fiction 1996 to read the goddamn mystery chapter of the unpublished sequel (that’s the only place it appeared, from what I can glean in my googling), even though it sounds like reading it will probably only piss me off more because it doesn’t really answer any questions. Or so they say. SCREW YOU MR. DELANY for making me CARE SO MUCH ABOUT YOUR GODDAMN CHARACTERS AND WORLD and then hurting them so awfully at the end of Stars, only to ABANDON them to live out their miserable lives in your head, where I can’t see them.
Big MEANY. Stingy! Cruel and unusual punishment to readers, that’s what this is!
And here’s the weirdest thing. Even so, I still wholeheartedly recommend Stars in my Pocket as one of the best Sci-fi books I have ever read.
The book basically takes a can-opener to your brain, with its ideas and images about aliens and culture and identity and so much more—and then leaves your skull-lid all hanging open, ragged and jagged, to tear at the edges of your pitiful life, oh the suffering of a cliff hanger. Oh oh oh.
Seriously, it’s really that good. Even with only being half the damn story.
Jo Walton, a terrific writer herself, has this to say and I completely agree: “Samuel Delany is intimidatingly brilliant, and Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand is (arguably) his best book. Even though he’s been one of my favourite writers since I was a teenager, and I’ve read all his books multiple times, I try not to re-read him when I’m writing because he sets such a high standard I feel that I might as well give up now.” (The rest of her review is here. It is excellent and gives a good sense of some of the more amazing content of the book.)
Yes. That. Imma go lie down and whimper for all the “writing” I have ever attempted. I am ashamed.
MAN I just…I’m so…UNRESOLVED. I have CLOSURE ISSUES. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO RAT AND MARK.
Sometimes we don’t get what we want. Just look at poor Mark Dyeth.
Oh god—was this the point? To leave the READER (me!) hanging like this, unfulfilled, in just the way that Mark is left hanging? So that I can feel the same (or at least an echo) of his misery?
TOO CRUEL, MR. DELANY. TOO CRUEL.