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Pym: A Novel

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Pym: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780812981582
ISBN10: 0812981588
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A comic journey into the ultimate land of whiteness by an unlikely band of African American adventurers.

Recently canned professor of American literature Chris Jaynes is obsessed with The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, Edgar Allan Poe’s strange and only novel. When he discovers the manuscript of a crude slave narrative that seems to confirm the reality of Poe’s fiction, he resolves to seek out Tsalal, the remote island of pure and utter blackness that Poe describes with horror. Jaynes imagines it to be the last untouched bastion of the African Diaspora and the key to his personal salvation.

He convenes an all-black crew of six to follow Pym’s trail to the South Pole in search of adventure, natural resources to exploit, and, for Jaynes at least, the mythical world of the novel. With little but the firsthand account from which Poe derived his seafaring tale, a bag of bones, and a stash of Little Debbie snack cakes, Jaynes embarks on an epic journey under the permafrost of Antarctica, beneath the surface of American history, and behind one of literature’s great mysteries. He finds that here, there be monsters.

Review:

"Social criticism rubs shoulders with cutting satire in this high-concept adventure from novelist (Hunting in Harlem) and graphic novelist (Incognegro) Johnson. Shortly after Chris Jaynes, a struggling 'blackademic' at a small Hudson Valley college who has a particular interest in Edgar Allan Poe's Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, is passed over for tenure, he lucks into a copy of an unpublished 19th-century manuscript that suggests Poe's novel, which was partially set in Antarctica, was drawn closely from truth. From here, the story takes a forceful turn into the weird and funny: Chris's cousin has a scheme to use Antarctic ice for a bottled water empire. A crew is assembled — including Chris's ex-wife and his lifelong Sancho Panza, Garth Frierson, an unemployed bus driver and devotee of a schlock painter modeled on Thomas Kinkaid — and soon Chris is hoping to resuscitate his professional and romantic life, and also find the island of Tsalal, the 'great undiscovered African Diasporan homeland... uncorrupted by whiteness.' Though the love story is flat and some of the secondary characters are narrowly portrayed, the book is caustically hilarious as it offers a memorable take on America's 'racial pathology' and 'the whole ugly story of our world.' (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

Synopsis:

A comic journey into the ultimate land of whiteness by an unlikely band of African American adventurers

 

Recently canned professor of American literature Chris Jaynes is obsessed with The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, Edgar Allan Poe’s strange and only novel. When he discovers the manuscript of a crude slave narrative that seems to confirm the reality of Poe’s fiction, he resolves to seek out Tsalal, the remote island of pure and utter blackness that Poe describes with horror. Jaynes imagines it to be the last untouched bastion of the African Diaspora and the key to his personal salvation.

He convenes an all-black crew of six to follow Pym’s trail to the South Pole in search of adventure, natural resources to exploit, and, for Jaynes at least, the mythical world of the novel. With little but the firsthand account from which Poe derived his seafaring tale, a bag of bones, and a stash of Little Debbie snack cakes, Jaynes embarks on an epic journey under the permafrost of Antarctica, beneath the surface of American history, and behind one of literature’s great mysteries. He finds that here, there be monsters.

About the Author

Mat Johnson was born and raised in Philadelphia, and has lived most of his life elsewhere. He is the author of several novels and graphic novels including Drop, Hunting in Harlem, and Incognegro. Johnson is a faculty member at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program and lives in Texas with his wife and children.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Stacia V, October 25, 2014 (view all comments by Stacia V)
A somewhat-witty satire of both Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket & the issue of race. Johnson's book starts out strongly, but bogs down with the fantastical story in the middle of the book. Johnson regains some of his steam for the final few pages & thoughts. Poe pulled-off the weirdness of his Pym tale; Johnson almost did but the story itself was too uneven overall.

The book's highlights/strengths are its skewering of Poe's work & of Thomas Kinkade (contemporary, popular 'painter of light'), along with some of the thoughts on race & race relations. The weakest points are the fantastical storyline & some of the characterization.

I wanted to love this book & did love the sections where Johnson nailed the satire. However, there were just too many uneven/fantastical parts that detracted from the crux of the message for me to fully love the book.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
kas, October 1, 2013 (view all comments by kas)
Mat Johnson's Pym is nothing less than an absolute masterpiece. It is easily among the top 5 books I have ever read in my life. Johnson continually shows a razor sharp wit in crafting his protagonist's consciousness -- at different moments, his observations had me heartily laughing out loud at his incisive or absurd insights, giggling at the silliness of the fantastical realm he finds himself in, and chuckling bittersweetly at the comically framed horrors that are sometimes described. A lot of the genius of this work inheres in Johnson's deep understanding of how absurdity can resonate profoundly with reality and his sensitivity to the poignancy of its actual presence in real life.

If you like literary heavyweights who write compelling plots in sophisticated and original ways, try this book. If some of your favorite comedy (in any medium) is dramedy, try this book. If you are sensitive to the presence of race in American life, try this book. If you appreciate the absurd, try this book.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
Josephine Rodriguez, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by Josephine Rodriguez)
This book embodied everything that makes a novel a standout for me -- it told an interesting story, it was deeply layered, it changed the way I see the world ... bravo!
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780812981582
Publisher:
Spiegel & Grau
Subject:
Literary
Author:
Johnson, Mat
Subject:
Fantasy fiction
Subject:
Voyages and travels
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Alternative History
Publication Date:
20110331
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
8.55 x 5.95 x 1.1 in 1 lb

Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » African American » General

Pym: A Novel
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 336 pages Spiegel & Grau - English 9780812981582 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Social criticism rubs shoulders with cutting satire in this high-concept adventure from novelist (Hunting in Harlem) and graphic novelist (Incognegro) Johnson. Shortly after Chris Jaynes, a struggling 'blackademic' at a small Hudson Valley college who has a particular interest in Edgar Allan Poe's Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, is passed over for tenure, he lucks into a copy of an unpublished 19th-century manuscript that suggests Poe's novel, which was partially set in Antarctica, was drawn closely from truth. From here, the story takes a forceful turn into the weird and funny: Chris's cousin has a scheme to use Antarctic ice for a bottled water empire. A crew is assembled — including Chris's ex-wife and his lifelong Sancho Panza, Garth Frierson, an unemployed bus driver and devotee of a schlock painter modeled on Thomas Kinkaid — and soon Chris is hoping to resuscitate his professional and romantic life, and also find the island of Tsalal, the 'great undiscovered African Diasporan homeland... uncorrupted by whiteness.' Though the love story is flat and some of the secondary characters are narrowly portrayed, the book is caustically hilarious as it offers a memorable take on America's 'racial pathology' and 'the whole ugly story of our world.' (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Synopsis" by , A comic journey into the ultimate land of whiteness by an unlikely band of African American adventurers

 

Recently canned professor of American literature Chris Jaynes is obsessed with The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, Edgar Allan Poe’s strange and only novel. When he discovers the manuscript of a crude slave narrative that seems to confirm the reality of Poe’s fiction, he resolves to seek out Tsalal, the remote island of pure and utter blackness that Poe describes with horror. Jaynes imagines it to be the last untouched bastion of the African Diaspora and the key to his personal salvation.

He convenes an all-black crew of six to follow Pym’s trail to the South Pole in search of adventure, natural resources to exploit, and, for Jaynes at least, the mythical world of the novel. With little but the firsthand account from which Poe derived his seafaring tale, a bag of bones, and a stash of Little Debbie snack cakes, Jaynes embarks on an epic journey under the permafrost of Antarctica, beneath the surface of American history, and behind one of literature’s great mysteries. He finds that here, there be monsters.

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