finch917, February 7, 2015 (view all comments by finch917)
In language that reads like myth, Bell strikes an unrelenting chord as eerie and haunting as Poe or Cormac McCarthy and weaves a narrative (albeit a loose, non-linear one) as horrifying and disturbing as Stephen King. Under it all is a story of shattering grief, unbearable loss, and the enduring love of what erodes into an untenable and dysfunctional marriage. It is not an easy read, a traditional plot, nor a story that could possibly have a happy, resolved ending. It is allegory--heavy, stylized, rather genius allegory. If that's not your thing, this won't be your kind of read. If you can marvel at a book for the shear brilliance and incredible feat of the writing, you just might love this.
Llywelyn, August 27, 2014 (view all comments by Llywelyn)
This was a very confusing read for me. I love Indiespensibles, and in almost 40 books I have recieved this is the first one I just ended up flipping through the pages. I will freely admit that I am not into metaphor heavy works, but this was far beyond anything I could cope with. What was real, what was a fever dream? It is clearly a painful, heartfelt work, but it felt like a faery tale with a msytic reality story inside it that included the ravings of a fevered fisherman too in love with his own great black whale.
Avoid this book if you want a sense of closure, or a resolved narrative.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
Shane Minden, November 7, 2013 (view all comments by Shane Minden)
So In The House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods is a phenomenon for me. I can't recommend it, but there are also things about it that I want to recommend. I guess it was a fairy tale, right? There was a lot of metaphor. The story itself felt like it was not too meaty or maybe not very substantial, so the details and the descent in to yuck had to be great. And that part was really great. Matt Bell is amazing - truly - with a well turned descriptive sentence/phrase/whatever. He can do gross. He can do psycho. He really gets uncomfortable. And really, I think he could write anything well. But I have to say, most of this book left me thinking "what is going on here"? At some point I sincerely felt like the madness took over and left the plot in the dirt... between the lake and the woods. With a bear, which was a metaphor for something maybe... I'm not smart enough to figure it out. This was an Indispensable selection - so it was like a "book club" experience for me. I'm not sad I took the time to read this book, but I'm not picking it up again and I might loan it out and not be too upset if it doesn't come back. I have high hopes for the next effort. More story, less gory
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (2 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Tisa, August 28, 2013 (view all comments by Tisa)
It's been quite a while since a book had my heart pounding, but the first chapters of Bell's book will do that. This fable, fairy tale, fantasy of love, adventure, childbirth, child loss, and life lived fiercely is like nothing else you have read before. The forces of nature combine with the frailty of the human condition to create a story you'll never forget. Fire, earth, and water take on a dimension of giving and taking that surprises, scares, and fulfills the reader's imagination--a necessary tool to have at hand as you begin the journey that is this first novel. Don't start this book if you have other tasks that need to be done. You won't get to them.
by Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe,
"There is a power here that is almost overwhelming. The force of the writing is derived from something elemental and primal. Unlike anything I have read in a long time.”
by Benjamin Percy, author of Red Moon and The Wilding,
"Matt Bell does not write sentences — he writes spells. He is not a novelist — he is a mystic. This book, which will grip you in an otherworldly trance, reads like something divined from tea leaves or translated from a charcoal cipher on a cave wall."
by Lauren Groff, author of Arcadia,
"In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods is a big, slinking, dangerous fairy tale, the kind with gleaming fangs and blood around the muzzle and a powerful heart you can hear thumping from miles away. The story's ferocity is matched by Matt Bell's glorious sentences: sinuous and darkly magical, they are taproots of the strange."
by Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins,
“This is a fiercely original book — at once intimate and epic, visceral and philosophical — that sent me scurrying for adjectives, for precedents, for cover. Matt Bell commands the page with bold, vigorous prose and may well have invented the pulse-pounding novel of ideas.”
by Library Journal, Starred Review,
“Bell puts the fable in fabulism....This spare, devastating novel...is as beautiful as it is ruinous. A tragedy of fantastic proportions, the book’s musical, often idiosyncratic prose will carry its readers into an unfamiliar but unforgettable world."
by Publishers Weekly,
“Challenging, boldly experimental.”
by Tin House,
“Matt Bell’s visionary debut novel In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and Woods is one of the most singularly strange and beautiful and wondrous books to come along in a long time....[Bell] has invented an entirely new rhetoric of fiction and marked unique territory of his own.”
“In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods...has an impressive wealth to share with its reader...it’s a gorgeous, bottomless book.”
by Vol 1. Brooklyn,
“One of the year’s best novels....Bell keeps the narrative evolving, shifting groundrules and revealing more about his setting and characters. Disorienting and evocative, this is a fantastic reading experience.”
by Kirkus Review,
“Meticulously designed, with a particular focus on the musicality of its sentences...an unflinching portrait of the struggle to keep a family intact.”
by Flavorwire (Staff Pick),
In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods is a terrifying and wonderful fable that has nestled itself somewhere deep inside my shoulder blades. I have never come across a book that is so close to a dream state, with all the wildness and wonder and transfiguration that implies.”
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.