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Grey Paperback – February 1, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
Armstrong presents a very clever concept but one not new to those who grew up with "The Medium is the Message." Its realization in this book is uneven--sometimes, as in the opening, wry and engaging, other times tedious and predictable. The language is sometimes so uneven that I wondered whether two different people had shared the writing. I got very, very tired of Father's obscenities and his one-note metaphors; the over/misuse of "like" and "fathom" jarred increasingly. The ending just *happened*, as if the writer had grown tired of his creation. Armstrong certainly has caught the flavor, however, of today's fashion poseurs and the affected dark pseudo-sophistication of their favorite style magazines.
This is not a science-fiction book, it's just fiction, about a dystopia of the post-apocalyptic world. It's also a sendup of Ultra aesthetes, one that Oscar Wilde might appreciate.
A word of warning: The production of this novella is so dreadful that it seriously interferes with the reader's ability to enter the story. On nearly every page (I do not exaggerate) occur missteps that a decent editor would have caught--grammar errors, spelling mistakes, poor punctuation, errors of continuity (exactly WHICH eye is the gray one?), incorrect usage, confusion of vocabulary (e.g., "epithets" for "epaulettes", "sign" for "sine", "wave" for "waive"). It reminded me of long nights spent correcting student essays. It is curious that an author so adept at parodying Conde Nast publications could be guilty of such clumsiness and pratfalls of speech. Standards in this area have certainly fallen throughout the industry, but never have I seen so unprofessional an edition.
Not as satisfying as other genre novels, such as Patricia Sullivan's _Maul_, yet still an excellent breakout performance. Hope to see more from this author in the future.
Over the course of reading up on Yarn, I discovered that the author's first book, Grey, was set in the same universe, setting up Armstrong's particular brand of fiction, labeled `Fiction-Punk'. Better still, the publisher, Nightshade Books, had an advance reader's copy of the book up on their website, for a free download. (You can get it here.)
Grey is a quick, funny read, with a couple of caveats and assumptions to go along with that. Set in a near future dystopia, Michael Rivers is the son of a family member, part of the elite, in a world where pop culture and consumerism has run amok, in the most ridiculous fashion possible. While reading the book, I'm operating on the assumption that this book shifted more towards the satirical than rational. Rivers is a celebrity, and where reality television runs every day, with talk show hosts and talking heads talking nonstop to his own egotistical father who has a documentary filmed of his life as he's living it, reediting it as he goes.
Fashion takes a front seat in this book, and Armstrong's descriptions of the fashion of this world is a fun one. Despite the book's title, there's multiple colors everywhere, with people wearing some of the strangest things throughout, at least in the expensive and livable areas.Read more ›
"Grey" attempts to paint a portrait of a future where civilization is dominated by two things, corporations and the mass media: people are defined by the way they dress and they script their lives so as to maximize publicity ratings. I say "attempts" because Armstrong fails to build a cohesive world of any sort. In trying to combine a world of high fashion with a world of dystopias, Armstrong proves that he understands neither. Fashion trends are thrown around arbitrarily and no justification is given for "Grey"'s over-the-top, ridiculous satire. Characters wear dresses that explode or hats the size of houses because...well, just because. Armstrong's view of fashion is akin to that of someone who watches a chess match without knowing the rules of the game: he knows that something is going on, but he can't fully understand what it is. Luckily for him, this ignorant perspective allows him to employ a recurring plot element, the deus ex fashionista, where the (arbitrary and derivative) plot is propelled by silly articles of clothing that light up, explode, or some other such nonsense. Proper forethought and execution could have made this aspect of the novel into something brilliant; here it's just dumb.
The other aspect of "Grey"'s world, the one where corporations control everything, is so poorly fleshed out that it is barely worth mentioning. The reader knows that they are there and that they do...something...Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The amazingly rich marketing and capitalistic world of Jon Armstrong's Grey and Yarn do it every time. Read morePublished on March 17, 2013 by Kimberly Ward
Is it an irony that Grey, the novel, is just as shallow and monochromatic as its title, protagonist and likely, its author? Read morePublished on January 13, 2010 by Ranke Lidyek
A quit bizarre love story in a very weird social context, somewhere in the future. The story started off awesome, I really liked the way the most bizarre futuristic elements were... Read morePublished on November 22, 2009 by Sacha
This book is something like those movies made from Saturday Night Live sketches: it's half of a clever idea stretched far beyond what could possibly be interesting. Read morePublished on March 28, 2008 by D. Archibald
If you took C. M. Kornbluth's snarky satire and changed the language to be far more Ellisonesque in its euphemism then you might get some idea of the tone... Read more
Grey surprised me - I wouldn't have thought I would've liked a novel about future fashions peopled by shallow, unlikable characters, but this was a fun, promising first novel that... Read morePublished on February 6, 2008 by John Wenger
This is simply put a waste of your money. Juvenile, poorly-plotted and somewhat creative would be the description it is most worthy of.Published on August 26, 2007 by Amazon Customer
Okay, the plot lacks development. Okay, the concept becomes repetitive. Okay, Armstrong uses the same satire again and again and again. Read morePublished on July 2, 2007 by HenryTen
If you're one of the haters who slagged the book (below) I'd imagine you don't take well to the shock of the new. Which is odd for people who read sci fi. Read morePublished on June 11, 2007 by Lee Skirboll