Understanding Pyschosis


12510849There is this tumblr account I follow (mostly because I enjoy the perks of being publicly ironic) called: Problems Of A Book Nerd. Each day (or sometimes twice a day if I’m really lucky) Cecilia (the girl who runs it) posts little ecards with nerd quips on them. For example today’s (#378) was “Claiming to be scared of the dark so having a nightlight doesn’t seem odd which you then proceed to read next to for hours after you were supposed to come to bed.”

Anyways, a while ago (you’ll understand how long when I show you it’s number) she posted a quip that I considered to be the cream of the crop. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, this puppy was on the money. So I saved it to my desktop, in hopes that one day I’d be lucky enough to use it for this exact purpose.

This is what it said:

#83 – When I say “I wish they would turn this book into a movie” what I really mean is “I wish they would turn this book into a 17-hour-long spectacle that includes every single solitary detail and doesn’t deviate at all from the storyline and has perfect casting.”

Now, most of you (at one time or another) have had the “book to movie” conversation with me, and learned that (while I’d be impressed if they didn’t) I have no big issue with movies taking liberties with adaptated work. Why? Because I am scary good at separating reality and expectations. I know that the movie will never live up to the book, so I just don’t expect it to. Instead…I enjoy it for what it is. Someone else’s interpretation of a book I really enjoyed. Like a visual book club if you will. So when I decided it was imperative that I purchase a copy of Brian McGreevy’s “Hemlock Grove” (after watching it’s Netflix adaptation – which I loved with the passion of a thousand caged succubi) I wasn’t expecting the exact same story. A phrase here. A reference there. Tada…a collaboration is made. Instead…I got as close to a #83 as I have ever seen. Which I have to admit is pretty freaking awesome.

An exhilarating reinvention of the gothic novel, inspired by the iconic characters of our greatest myths and nightmares.

The body of a young girl is found mangled and murdered in the woods of Hemlock Grove, Pennsylvania, in the shadow of the abandoned Godfrey Steel mill. A manhunt ensues—though the authorities aren’t sure if it’s a man they should be looking for.

Some suspect an escapee from the White Tower, a foreboding biotech facility owned by the Godfrey family—their personal fortune and the local economy having moved on from Pittsburgh steel—where, if rumors are true, biological experiments of the most unethical kind take place. Others turn to Peter Rumancek, a Gypsy trailer-trash kid who has told impressionable high school classmates that he’s a werewolf. Or perhaps it’s Roman, the son of the late JR Godfrey, who rules the adolescent social scene with the casual arrogance of a cold-blooded aristocrat, his superior status unquestioned despite his decidedly freakish sister, Shelley, whose monstrous medical conditions belie a sweet intelligence, and his otherworldly control freak of a mother, Olivia.

At once a riveting mystery and a fascinating revelation of the grotesque and the darkness in us all, Hemlock Grove has the architecture and energy to become a classic in its own right—and Brian McGreevy the talent and ambition to enthrall us for years to come.

For those of you that have had to opportunity to watch the TV version of Hemlock Grove, you are (at this point) probably accustomed to it’s odd cadence. For everyone else…let me explain.

Unlike traditional novels (especially those dealing with supernatural/paranormal elements) HG is not easy to read. It is written in “conscience thought.” What does that mean? Well…let me think. Ok, imagine for a second that there is a man sitting at a table. On that table are roughly 5 thousand fortunes (because obviously this dude has a weird obsession with Chinese food.) The man, he loves these fortunes, doesn’t want to throw them away. So he comes up with an idea. He will write a book, and use the fortune cookies as his guide. Punctuation will not deter him. Fragments, and vague references will cower in his glory…because this is his calling. To unite forward thought with the grotesque beauty of Gothic realism. That is the writing base for Hemlock Grove. Stunted but informative.

For example:

“When asked for a statement by the paper he had declared, in his view, a state of emergency. But does raising a child have any other name? There is a fly in the ointment peculiar to the study of the mind and it is that the subject is also it’s instrument, like a microscope under a microscope. He looked out at the dendritic network of branches cast by the streetlight in shadow puppet on her blinds.”

Straying way outside of the lines, McGreevy adds poetic justice to not only the world he builds for his characters to tromp clumsily through, but also the characters themselves. Judged/spoiled/forgotten/mistreated/sacrificial/and evil incarnate only tip the ice berg when delving into such a uniquely tortured cast.

Peter (the werewolf) struggles with perception. Roman (the umpir) with loneliness and expectation. Shelley, acceptance. Each has a distinct place in the story, and each deliver in a way that can be considered either stunning or beautiful, depending on your point of view.

I will be the first to admit that this book (much like the show) is not for everyone. As a matter of fact, it’s not for most. The writing style alone with bother at least 80% of you. Another 5% will be irritated by the blatant disregard for traditional “supernatural” rules. (aka what a vampire/werewolf is “supposed” to do according to every other book on the planet.) For the last 15% you will be swept away in a fantastic (original) Gothic tale, that breaks barriers and sets new standards. Something I am VERY happy to have realized early on.

And (as a side note) for those of you who are deciding whether or not to purchase this book for a little “show clarity”…good luck with that. The show follows the book (with the exception of a few small things and a couple of pages of illustrative detail) if the show confused you, the book will not help you.

Overall…it’s not what I expected, but exactly what I wanted. Two thumbs up for off-beat books!

Happy Reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: sometimes it’s good to step outside of your comfort zone.

Rating Report
Overall: 3.9


A look at the Netflix series…

About Misty

Your friendly neighborhood narcissist. I'm sarcastic, cynical and a bit cranky. I own a soap box so big that sometimes I have difficulty stepping down off of it, and I'm about 94% certain I have multiple personalities. I don't sleep enough, and I read more than any person should ever consider normal. I have anger management issues, especially when I'm stuck in traffic and I have an unhealthy obsession with my Kindle. I am a vampire lovin', zombie obsessed, book-in-hand, iPod freak. You either love me or hate me. You be the judge.

5 thoughts on “Understanding Pyschosis

  1. ‘The Angel’ is very much a straight continuation of opening episode ‘Jellyfish In The Sky’, and it’s nice to see the world of Hemlock Grove fleshed out a bit. Olivia and Norman still feel like they’ve stepped out of Dark Shadows.

    1. I very much agree. I think I enjoyed the book as a whole so much because it “continued” the same story, didn’t fall off into another one. And seeing a little more background of characters like Olivia was nice.

  2. The book is a quick, cutting read recommended for fans of transgressive fiction as much as horror. There’s nothing twee, ‘tween or teen about it. But that hasn’t stopped knee-jerk Twilight comparisons at the very mention of mythical monsters who happen to be in high school.

  3. Now, Hemlock Grove is nowhere near Lost levels of “what the heck is going on?” but there are definitely mysteries, and definitely the potential to form and debate theories (the central one being, of course, whodunit?). When seriously binge-watching (it’s 13 episodes – you could easily do it in a weekend if you’re hardcore), you miss the opportunity to form solid theories, because you’re often immediately confronted with the answers. Alternately, if you spread it out and watch the show over several weeks, you miss the social aspect and the debate of those theories, because you’re not watching it at the same time as everyone else, who are all watching it on their own timetable. I actually deliberately avoided looking up anything at all on the Internet about it until I was done with the whole thing (even though I was super curious about some theories I had) because I was afraid of being spoiled since people could have already watched the whole thing. Meanwhile, Netflix also misses out on a huge amount of the buzz and word-of-mouth that builds just from people talking about a television show as they watch it – granted, they’ll still get reactions, but it will last for a shorter period of time.

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