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I listened to this twice, because I loved my first listen so much that I wanted to experience more of the atmosphere. I also wondered if I could find any more definitive answers regarding the questions raised. I could not. I did find much more clarity, piecing together bits and possibilities. It was a wonderfully unnerving puzzle to pick back through. There is an astonishing clarity regarding the world this story is set in, even as it resolutely sticks to its mysteriousness. That's part of the joy of reading this. Certainly a story that begs a second or third reading soon after listening to its last words. It's one of those books that loves being obscure and avoids easy answers, and yet is fully worth the extra time to let the story seep in further.
There are a number of darkly fantastical aspects to the narrator's childhood and figuring out exactly what they all mean for the narrator then and now is a big part of the pull of the narrative. From the start it's made very clear that we cannot trust the narrator, as there is confusion over the events in an innocent but haunting manner. It was well-wrought mix of the gothic and magical realism.
The point-of-view of This Census-Taker actually reminded me of the beginning third of Embassytown (Mieville's best in my opinion), in that Avice, the narrator in Embassytown, also felt innocent and confused and untrustworthy. However, there is certainly much more clarity that is revealed toward the end of Embassytown. This Census-Taker doesn't do that end reveal stuff. There's a reveal, sure, but it only presents further questions.
So yeah, if you need answers and trustworthy narrators, this is probably not for you.. If you love fathomless questions and mystery, give this two listens or more.
The narration for the audio was an excellent match.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
In the latest short story by China Miéville, "This Census-Taker", you are not really sure if the boy is telling the truth or embellishing his story for attention. The boy is getting abuse by his father and his mother has gone missing. His imagination throws you off a bit because, like a child, you wont get a definite answer. His story is all over the place.
Fortunately, this is the style of China Miéville. In most of his books, he likes to leave the reader guessing. Maybe that is why he wrote "This Census-Taker" as a novella, to make us read it more than once and come to a different conclusion each time.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful