Book Review

The Seep by Chana Porter

very gen x "internet is bad" vibes

Written October 14th, christ these are out of time completely lol so dysfunctional

What’s the last book I read?

I don’t fucking remember.

You know, obviously, you know, anonymous reader, anonymous friend, anonymous stranger. You can read the title above (rarely now, oh so rarely does said title have any bearing on these posts and i don’t even know if that’s true some of them have been more literary lately but most of them haven’t been haven’t been haven’t been and i worry that I’ve lost the ability to write and i haven’t been writing or submitting anything i mean i spent several hours today playing guitar and writing a comedy song like i was a teenager again (I’ve promised my lover a country song for Christmas but I’m not quite au fait (is that how you spell that?) enough with the genre to take it seriously creatively but I suppose that playing music and writing crude rhyming couplets is creative in a way tho not in a very useful way what the hell do i mean by useful i mean trying to write again trying to write

The guy in charge of the publisher for the pleasure of regret is in hospital and I’m both concerned on a “personal” basis (am I?) and on a “professional” basis (am I?) tho christ Christ christ that book is going to offend and/or appall anyone i know who reads it and I’m worried that no strangers will read it even tho it’s written for strangers all my writing is for strangers i suppose and i think theres something bleak in there but i dont know i dont know what it is

I’m coming to the end of four days (I’m typing this on my phone (another old me behaviour returns!) as I walk Cubby on the little beach on the Lake Ontario shorefront, a ten minute walk from our tiny apartment. I bought a heater yesterday (the ancient (for this city, so 100 years ish) building i live in, which is owned by a not for profit community-based organisation) has had its central heating boiler permanently switched off for an undisclosed safety reason so it’s cold in there and I’d been putting off buying a heater because everything feels difficult (i was about to type “feels difficult lately” but that isn’t even true is it it has been the case for ages and ages and ages) but i did it and i also bought myself a new turtleneck today because I’ve been really really enjoying wearing the one i bleached back to cleanliness and wanted to get one from KOTN, my go-to “basics” clothier here in Toronto (it’s where i bought the dress from I’ve been too anxious to wear tho i wasnt writing about that here was i that was a rare piece i sent elsewhere tho it will probably be rejected everything has been for a long time now lololol im just not quite focused or healthy enough to write well y’know) so i have been productive in these) four days off, but only productive in terms of doing active recreation (if that even makes sense as a phrase?). Bought a nice top, played some guitar. Took me three days of intense stressful anxiety tho to shake that sense of deadly stasis. That which does not move, rots. I am rotting. I gotta move.

I am reading a lot, tho, and I’ve been uncharacteristically maintaining the private commitment I made to myself to read all the books i acquired on/for my birthday before reading anything else, which i think I’m over halfway through now, which is nice! Reading! Reading! Books! Books!

///

The Seep was one of the birthday books I was given by my lover, so i think the real reason I’ve kept from posting about it is because I feel bad for not really enjoying a gift from my significant other innit.

To be fair, the premise of The Seep is solid and it promises and delivers a pretty fresh and original built-world.

I think, tho, the reason why I found the book hard to love by its end is essentially the crux of the frequent disagreements I have with my lover about genre fiction. If I read a novel – or watch a film or TV show, whatever – set in a fictional or a significantly fictionalised world, then I want those world changes or differences or realities, whatever, to be the content, not merely the context. To me, The Seep didn’t read like Chana Porter had a burning urge to tell a narrative as a piece of speculative fiction about the possible reality of a neurological alien invasion that functioned more like a shared, medically powerful, global hallucination, it rather felt like a Gen Xy americana exploration of “the evils of social media” etc.

I’m being judgemental there because, I suppose, I found The Seep quite aggressively assaulting the way in which I live (and in some ways have been forced to live by COVID-19, but really I’d be lying to claim I hadn’t isolated myself (with an ocean) a year before the pandemic properly kicked off).

The novel explores – through metaphor (a literary device I, as a blunt bald millennial poet, hold in contempt) – the differences between communication and community, and Porter’s protagonist makes a firm, Gen Xy decision to remove herself from the alien-induced ability to communicate with everyone and instead form a little community of people who matter to her, people with whom she can commune instead of communicate.

Does that make sense?

The protagonist prefers the ability to make a handful of serious, in-person, connections, rather than the blissfully anonymising globality of “The Seep”, i.e. the internet.

This is, of course, the opposite of what I’ve done. With my lover away (harvesting and making wine), I am left only with colleagues to communicate with, where there is no communion (I have had precisely one emotionally-charged, in-person interaction in the workplace and I nearly got suspended lol. (Fyi, the emotion was anger.)) The constant distancing and absenting of the self is hard to maintain. I haven’t had to do it for four days now, and I feel infinitesimally better for it.

Hmm, there’s a lot to look at here, whenever I get round to proof-reading and posting this, which likely won’t be for weeks. Months? Ever?

note: write more about the differences between communication and community?

book was fine, if disappointing

here are some pics of Cubby by the lake:

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