Everything Under

Everything Under

Book - 2018
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Words are important to Gretel, always have been. As a child, she lived on a canal boat with her mother, and together they invented a language that was just their own. She hasnt seen her mother since the age of sixteen, though almost a lifetime ago and those memories have faded. Now Gretel works as a lexicographer, updating dictionary entries, which suits her solitary nature. A phone call from the hospital interrupts Gretels isolation and throws up questions from long ago. She begins to remember the private vocabulary of her childhood. She remembers other things, too: the wild years spent on the river; the strange, lonely boy who came to stay on the boat one winter; and the creature in the water a canal thief? swimming upstream, getting ever closer. In the end there will be nothing for Gretel to do but go back.
Publisher: Minneapolis, Minnesota : Graywolf Press, [2018]
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9781555978266
1555978266
Branch Call Number: FICTION JOHNS...D
Characteristics: 264 pages ; 21 cm

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From Library Staff

Words are important to Gretel, always have been. As a child, she lived on a canal boat with her mother, and together they invented a language that was just their own. She hasn't seen her mother since the age of sixteen, though — almost a lifetime ago — and those memories have faded. Now Gretel wo... Read More »


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knitsewrainbow May 20, 2019

Johnson writes a compelling story full of mystery and intrigue, but as the tale unravels beware the heartbreaking, complex, and ultimately broken strands that weave this family together.

s
sgcf
May 13, 2019

I was in awe of the writing skills of 27 year old Johnson, youngest ever to be short listed for the Man Booker Prize. The story felt a bit eerie, occasionally confusing, but always an enthralling page-turner as the protagonist finds the mother who abandoned her at age 16 and unwinds the convoluted strands of those intervening years. Johnson deals with the theme of fate, loosely shadowing the Oedipus myth, as well as themes of entangled memories of family and home. Foreboding, yet mesmerizing. A favourite quote:
”Sometimes I wonder if all our choices are remnants of all the choices we made before. As if decisions were shards from the bombs of our previous actions.”

k
KirstenES
Feb 28, 2019

Alternately removed, otherworldly and mysterious, this Booker-shortlisted first (!) novel uses its settings as central characters, but the characters themselves, shifting through identities and communities, are the most compelling part. The author creates empathetic portraits of people facing very difficult realities, and does it without ever being saccharine or manipulative. Johnson addresses issues of parenting, gender, sexuality, family and more, while telling a story that kept me turning pages and staying up late to find out what would happen next.

m
MaryJoSchifsky
Jan 18, 2019

Dark tale of young woman, her mother and water. Didn't complete.

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