Alan is a middle-aged entrepreneur in contemporary Toronto who has devoted himself to fixing up a house in a bohemian neighborhood. This naturally brings him in contact with the house full of students and layabouts next door, including a young woman who, in a moment of stress, reveals to him that she has wings—wings, moreover, that grow back after each attempt to cut them off.
Alan understands. He himself has a secret or two. His father is a mountain, his mother is a washing machine, and among his brothers are a set of Russian nesting dolls.
Now two of the three nesting dolls, Edward and Frederick, are on his doorstep—well on their way to starvation because their innermost member, George, has vanished. It appears that yet another brother, Davey, whom Alan and his other siblings killed years ago, may have returned … bent on revenge.
Under such circumstances it seems only reasonable for Alan to involve himself with a visionary scheme to blanket Toronto with free wireless Internet connectivity, a conspiracy spearheaded by a brilliant technopunk who builds miracles of hardware from parts scavenged from the city’s dumpsters. But Alan’s past won’t leave him alone—and Davey is only one of the powers gunning for him and all his friends.
"Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town is a glorious book, but there are hundreds of those. It is more. It is a glorious book unlike any book you’ve ever read.”
Gene Wolfe, Nebula Award–winning author
“His best work to date.”
Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“After finishing Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, I was surprised to find that botherment and uncertainty had vanished into satisfaction. Somehow this loose-jointed, wandering, ramshackle compendium of casual weirdness (perfectly expressed in the title) produces the kind of intimacy—even authenticity—more often associated with a personal journal, a blog, even autobiography. Yes, the mountain’s son will have to confront sheer Evil, but he also struggles with the complexities of friendship, outsiderhood, progressive ideals, and the awkward hinterland between sex and love.”
“Fresh, unconventional…In this inventive parable about tolerance and acceptance, [Doctorow] demonstrates how memorably the outrageous and the everyday can coexist.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Doctorow breaks new ground in his latest novel, a nonlinear tale of the relationship between the fantastic and the freakish, of real life and cyberspace. The cast of name-shifting characters whose reality transcends the peculiarities of their circumstances and a search for identity in a world of impermanence and utter strangeness calls into question the nature of truth in a world where knowledge is both instantaneous and unreliable. Magical realism and literary iconoclasm abound in a novel that should appeal to fans of experimental fiction in a near-future setting.”
“A lovely, satisfying tale.”
“Fine modern fantasy…with the potential to please both SF and mainstream readers. This chimera of a novel takes a plot with the geek appeal of a Neal Stephenson story and combines it with a touching family tale built out of absurdist elements that could have come from Italo Calvino or Kurt Vonnegut…Smart, clever, delightful stuff; it falls short of perfect—there are some unconvincing moments—but it’s still likely to be one of the better non-magic-and-dragon fantasies this year.”
1 out of 1 (100%) recommend this productWrite a review
Love for the WeirdosMarch 9, 2015This book is so weird. I love it! At first, I thought that when Alan (Adam, Adrian, Abel) said his father is a mountain and his mother a washing machine that he was using metaphors for the stereotypical views of a father and mother. But he wasn’t. He means it literally. And if that isn’t odd enough, his brothers are literally a clairvoyant, an island, an undead creature, and a set of living Russian nesting dolls. And these are his family members, part of his childhood.
After making his way in the world to great success, he’s not successful at pulling off “normal.” Most people know there’s something off about him, like his new neighbors, one of whom is a girl with wings that she cuts off once they grow too long to hide. Mixed in to all this weirdness is something, that at the time the book was written seemed weird, has become far less of a crazy idea: providing access points to allow for free internet over the entire city of Toronto.
This is my second Cory Doctorow book, and I’m now hooked. Whereas in Eastern Standard Tribe Doctorow seems to veer off in a not so accurate depiction of the future of the physical aspects of technology, he nails it in this book originally released in 2005. I also dig his politics. I remember having many of the same discussions about how the internet is one of the last great bastions of democracy and free speech and how this freedom can be preserved and expanded through grassroots efforts with minimal resources.
What makes this book more profound is how Doctorow builds up the listener’s confidence in the pursuits of the characters, but then later introduces alternative views that shatter that confidence. I could really tell that Doctorow thinks out his stories from as many different angles as possible.
Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of this book is the ever-shifting names for the brothers. As long as the name was male and started with the same first letter (A, B, C, D, E, F, or G), that name was fine by the brothers. Rarely does anyone point out the shifting names, especially when regarding Alan. There are many times people are provided the chance ask about something strange or inconsistent, but they don’t. For me, the one question that seems to be the most obvious question that went unasked is whether or not Mimi has ever used her wings to fly.
I could go on and on about this book, but I won’t. There are too many conversations that could be had regarding the story for the space of a review.
Bronson Pinchot did an astounding job with this challenging book. The mere act of keeping the ever-changing names straight presents a challenge for even the most seasoned audiobook narrator, and Bronson manages a big win with this one.
Bronson Pinchot, an Audie Award–winning narrator, received his education at Yale University, which filled out what he had already received at his mother’s knee in the all-important areas of Shakespeare, Greek art and architecture, and the Italian Renaissance. He restores Greek Revival buildings and appears in television, film, and on stage whenever the pilasters and entablatures overwhelm him.
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- Publisher: Blackstone Audio
- Genre: Fiction/Science Fiction
- ISBN-13: 9781483079752