Cass Neary made her name in the 70s as a photographer embedded in the burgeoning punk movement in New York City. Her pictures of the musicians and the hangers-on, the infamous, the damned, and the dead, earned her a brief moment of fame. Thirty years later she is adrift, on her way down, and almost out when an old acquaintance sends her on a mercy gig to interview a famously reclusive photographer who lives on an island in Maine. When she arrives Down East, Cass stumbles across a decades-old mystery that is still claiming victims, and she finds one final shot at redemption.
Patricia Highsmith meets Patti Smith in this mesmerizing literary thriller.
©2008 Elizabeth Hand (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
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"Patricia Highsmith meets Patti Smith"
It was very dark.
It was unexpectedly atmospheric.
I came by this book quite by chance; while reading a review for Available Dark, the next book in Hand's Cass Neery series, I became intrigued with the first title so I decided to order it from Audible.com. I listened to it over a long weekend and I'm glad that I gave it a chance. (And I really wish that I'd been the first to post a review.)
Cass Neery, a washed up post-survivor of NYC's punk era is an edgy photographer whose book of photographs was a mild sensation, is given a chance to interview a famous photographer who has become a legendary recluse on a Maine island. Once there, she's mystified by posters of people who have gone missing, all without any clue as to why or how.
I'll admit that Cass is unlikable. She's a loser, she's selfish, she's caustic and rude, and seemingly without morals. But there is something about her that is broken and it seems that deep down she knows this to be true. Her armor of disdain, powered by drugs and alcohol, doesn't seem to be working for her as well as it used to.
Generation Loss is dark and edgy, and it's disturbing which makes you want to avert your gaze. Yet at the same it's painful and powerfully atmospheric, and there's something about it that keeps you peering in.
I really liked Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand and found the narrator to be perfect for this novel and I highly urge you to give it a try. But do stay away if you're looking for the traditional mystery that has likeable characters, where the good guys always win and the bad guys get what they deserve.
Facts: Booklist and Publishers Weekly gave Generation Loss starred reviews; Elizabeth Hand is an awarding winning author of science fiction and contributes to The Washington Post Book World and the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
"Edgy and enthralling."
This book features my favourite combination of a great original character in an interesting, beautifully described location. Cass Neery is almost an anti-heroine, you find yourself questioning her motives a lot of the time but she's gutsy and fascinating.
It certainly made the state of Maine sound as if it would be a very interesting place to visit. The way the author brought the location to life was integral to my enjoyment of this book.
I also loved the in-depth (to me anyway) analysis of photography. Made me drag out some of my old photography books.
Yes and yes again. How does she achieve this? By being an exceptionally talented writer would be my guess.
The narrator is one of the best I've heard.
I fell into this book from the beginning. Cass Neery is a wonderful character who kept me a bit unbalanced while wanting to know more and more about her. I wouldn't let her anywhere near my medicine cabinet but would like to share a drink with her now and then.
"Evocative but flawed"
A friend of mine from rural Maine recommended this book, saying it was a terrible pot-boiler but exactly our aesthetic and richly atmospheric. And she was right. The author manages to capture two completely different worlds (punk and post-punk LES and artists-gone-ferrel Maine). Cass Neary is truly unlikable (and probably a psychopath), but she's a fascinating character. The mystery is not very compelling, so don't expect a lot on that front. And the narrator's Maine accents are TERRIBLE. Maybe I should have gotten the book out of the library.
"Could not finish it"
I probably wouldn't have gotten as far as I did (three-quarters of the way through) if the narrator had not been as good. In the end, though, the narrator could not get me to, well, the end. It is not because the heroine is kind of a sad human being with no moral compass (I just gave a good review to a book about a professional torturer). Quite simply, the story was boring. I expected a mystery and did not get one. Yeah, yeah, people are disappearing...but that part of the plot seems to be happening in a parallel universe while we are stuck watching the heroine meander about.
I read this book because listeners whose reviews have yielded some gems in the past gave the next one in this series a good review, so I am almost tempted to give that one a try -- but not quite yet.
"Proceed at Your Own Risk"
A good editor.
Anything NOT from this author.
Avoid trying to do a Maine accent.
I would have tossed the manuscript in the trash and never let it go to print.
Possibly the most, insipid, pathetic excuse for a book that I have ever had the misfortune to download (and I have about 400 in my library). The main character is a miserable, depraved, contentious, pill-popping alcoholic, with a warped world view whose apparently limited vocabulary makes her swear like a sailor. There is absolutely nothing about the woman that is redeeming or worthy of empathy. Even a single star is an over-rating of this story.
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