Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Free ebook and a review!

Summer give-away by The Friday Project: the ebook version of The State of Me is available as a free download for a limited period! I was pleased to see this new, rather lovely,  review (4 stars) on Amazon yesterday:  I love the honesty of the review and that the s/he feels bad about pointing out the 'negatives'. 

This chatty, funny and insightful book was thoroughly absorbing. Nasim has done a wonderful service to people with ME, by being very open about all aspects of the illness but never self-pitying nor boring! The reader can only cheer her on whilst she snatches what life she can out from under the debilitating illness. All the characters are written well and the writer has a knack for portraying relations deftly but true. It was truly a joy to read, if sometimes a little heartbreaking.The only reason I haven't given the book 5 stars is that I felt it could have done with editing down a little of some of the inconsequential chatty detail. The author plays with form, which is wonderfully entertaining, but I would have liked to have seen it used more consistently which I think would have made it more affective. For instance the author swapped between first and third person for the first part of the book, but at some point that was just dropped. Perhaps it could have been used to great effect later on, or perhaps that needed to be edited out altogether? I feel mean writing the above though, because this book has been my constant companion for days and I've read it every chance I got.      

I felt I wanted to respond to the points made, not as criticism (a reader's views are a reader's views) but more for clarification. The 'inconsequential chatty detail' made me smile, having just ploughed through Knausgaard (see previous post) where the dialogue is often inconsequential. A favourite scene of mine (in A Man in Love) is a New Year party where the dialogue suddenly comes 'alive', there are conversations dripping with meaning, long sentences, which contrast sharply with the previous, often static, 'purposeless' dialogue. Knausgaard's point is that dialogue *is* often boring and inconsequential, he is not concerned, and in The State of Me,  pared down dialogue (that doesn't move the plot along) is to reflect the utter tedium of chronic (at times, severe) illness.

The points about the shifts from third to first person are a little more challenging  as a great deal of time and energy (I view everything in terms of energy)  was used on these shifts. The technique was not simply 'dropped' as the reader has observed, it was deliberate. I shift between first person and third person throughout the book, third person to show her most ill, isolated times, and of course, the third person narrator has a knowingness that Helen doesn't. ie that 'chronic fatigue' will come to be the tragic misnomer for Helen's illness a decade down the line, that myalgic encephalomyelitis, the neuroimmune process that has punched into her life, will be endangered as a diagnosis, hijacked by psychiatrists. The flitting between third and first was mostly intuitive, it just happened. I also use asterisks a lot - and present tense - to slow down the pace, though the asterisks have been lost in the Kindle edition, but I'm told it hasn't detracted from the experience of reading the novel, but I still prefer the paperback version for this reason, while delighted that people can also read the e-version. Still, re. the shifting views  being 'dropped', it is always interesting to hear how your writing is perceived. That is the whole point!

Enjoy the free ebook, it is only for two weeks. Please do write a review on Amazon or Goodreads or blog or Twitter if you can. Reviews are hard to write  (at least, I find it hard) and I always appreciate when people do write a review, even a very short one.

*Just to say the book is only free via Amazon UK and iTunes UK.


Sue Marie said...

I'd love to get this, but Amazon's message says it's only downloadable in the UK. Is there any other way of getting the download from Canada/US?

I use Kindle for PC, which was a download from Amazon.com to use with an earlier CFS book I downloaded.


TKno2 said...

It only seems to be free for the UK. Not the Rep. of Ireland, for example.

nmj said...

Hey Sue Marie and Tom, Thanks for your interest in the book - I have just been informed it is only free through Amazon UK, I am sorry! If you have any questions about downloads via Amazon UK please ask Scott Pack, my publisher: