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A Monster's Notes
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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2009
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What if Mary Shelley had not invented Frankenstein’s monster but had met him when she was a girl of eight, sitting by her mother’s grave, and he came to her unbidden? What if their secret bond left her forever changed, obsessed with the strange being whom she had discovered at a time of need? What if he were still alive in the twenty-first century?
This bold, genre-defying book brings us the “monster” in his own words. He recalls how he was “made” and how Victor Frankenstein abandoned him. He ponders the tragic tale of the Shelleys and the intertwining of his life with that of Mary (whose fictionalized letters salt the narrative, along with those of her nineteenth-century intimates) in this riveting mix of fact and poetic license. He takes notes on all aspects of human striving—from the music of John Cage to robotics to the Northern explorers whose lonely quest mirrors his own—as he tries to understand the strange race that made yet shuns him, and to find his own freedom of mind.
In the course of the monster’s musings, we also see Mary Shelley’s life from her childhood through her elopement with Percy Bysshe Shelley, her writing of Frankenstein, the births and deaths of her children, Shelley’s famous drowning, her widowhood, her subsequent travels and life’s work, and finally her death from a brain tumor at age fifty-four. The monster’s fierce bond with Mary and the tale of how he ended up in her fiction is a haunted, intense love story, a story of two beings who can never forget each other.
A Monster’s Notes is Sheck’s most thrilling work to date, a luminous meditation on creativity and technology, on alienation and otherness, on ugliness and beauty, and on our need to be understood.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
06/23/2009
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307272386
ASIN:
B002DO17PI
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Laurie Sheck. (2009). A Monster's Notes. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Laurie Sheck. 2009. A Monster's Notes. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Laurie Sheck, A Monster's Notes. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2009.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Laurie Sheck. A Monster's Notes. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2009. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • role: Author
      • fileAs: Sheck, Laurie
      • bioText:

        Laurie Sheck is the author of five books of poetry, including Captivity and The Willow Grove, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She is a recent Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard and at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, and her work has appeared in such publications as The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Boston Review. She teaches in the MFA Program at The New School and lives in New York City.

      • name: Laurie Sheck
imprint
Knopf
publishDate
2009-06-23T05:00:00+01:00
isOwnedByCollections
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title
A Monster's Notes
fullDescription
What if Mary Shelley had not invented Frankenstein’s monster but had met him when she was a girl of eight, sitting by her mother’s grave, and he came to her unbidden? What if their secret bond left her forever changed, obsessed with the strange being whom she had discovered at a time of need? What if he were still alive in the twenty-first century?
This bold, genre-defying book brings us the “monster” in his own words. He recalls how he was “made” and how Victor Frankenstein abandoned him. He ponders the tragic tale of the Shelleys and the intertwining of his life with that of Mary (whose fictionalized letters salt the narrative, along with those of her nineteenth-century intimates) in this riveting mix of fact and poetic license. He takes notes on all aspects of human striving—from the music of John Cage to robotics to the Northern explorers whose lonely quest mirrors his own—as he tries to understand the strange race that made yet shuns him, and to find his own freedom of mind.
In the course of the monster’s musings, we also see Mary Shelley’s life from her childhood through her elopement with Percy Bysshe Shelley, her writing of Frankenstein, the births and deaths of her children, Shelley’s famous drowning, her widowhood, her subsequent travels and life’s work, and finally her death from a brain tumor at age fifty-four. The monster’s fierce bond with Mary and the tale of how he ended up in her fiction is a haunted, intense love story, a story of two beings who can never forget each other.
A Monster’s Notes is Sheck’s most thrilling work to date, a luminous meditation on creativity and technology, on alienation and otherness, on ugliness and beauty, and on our need to be understood.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        April 6, 2009
        Respected poet Sheck delivers a classic poet’s first novel, a long, polyphonic, often directionless sprawl of unconventional narrative. In her poetry, Sheck has striven to mimic the kinesis of the modern mind: an entrapped being, self-consciously at odds with its literary predecessors. But in the shift to fiction, much of her trademark momentum is lost and her fervent brilliance stretched thin. The book takes the perspective of Frankenstein’s monster and interweaves his “notes” on the human race with fictionalized letters of his creator, author Mary Shelley. (Sheck imagines Shelley to have met the monster as a little girl, sitting by her mother’s grave.) It’s an unwieldy project that, like the monster’s body, feels off-kilter and ill-proportioned, while its organizational scheme (by topics of the monster’s interest, such as John Cage’s prepared piano or the ethics of genetic privacy) can make the reading experience feel rather encyclopedic. Still, Sheck’s effulgent, elegant wisdom is impossible to deny. She may not yet be a storyteller, but she is a superb lyricist, and in this new work, she comes across as a fearless philosopher for our times.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from May 1, 2009
        Celebrated NYC poet Sheck richly reimagines the oft-retold Frankenstein in her defiantly original debut novel, which posits that the fabricated human was Mary Shelley's chance acquaintance, not her creation, and has lived on into the present day.

        The"monster" built by overreaching scientist Dr. Victor Frankenstein has been kept alive by his hunger to understand why he was made, how his maker could have abandoned him and the role his unique history plays in the larger scheme of the known universe. In a huge gathering of fragments, somewhat reminiscent of Guy Davenport's eclectic and erudite fictional collages, Sheck fashions a fascinating dual narrative. Mary Shelley's fictionalized story unfolds in communications from her mother, feminist intellectual Mary Wollstonecraft, to her father, novelist-philosopher William Godwin; and in Mary's own diary, notes and correspondence—replete with anguished discussions of her marriage to poet Percy Bysshe Shelley—with such soul mates as her half-sister Fanny and her stepsister Claire Clairmont, Lord Byron's mistress and herself a gifted writer. The other narrative comprises the autodidact monster's own"notes" on such topics relevant to his own abandoned state as polar exploration, the space-time continuum, robotics and other re-engineerings of natural states, and the dramatization of conflicts between appearance and reality in China's epic 18th-century novel Dream of the Red Chamber. Initially abstruse and puzzling, this brilliant fiction gathers both seamless coherence and immense power as its elements draw together, punctuated by the sentient monster's appeal to his irresponsible maker:"When you first began to make me, didn't you set out on a course you couldn't possibly understand?"

        Utterly astonishing and not to be missed.

        (COPYRIGHT (2009) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        May 15, 2009
        Poet Scheck's ("Captivity") lyrical first novel is a reimagining of the life of Frankenstein's monsterstill alive in the 21st century. The creature meditates on the nature of existence, of life and death, of beauty and ugliness, and of isolation. He remembers reading the letters and journals of Mary Shelley's half-sister, Claire, while she lived with the Shelleys in Europe and his early encounters with nine-year-old Mary while she visited her mother's grave. He also reads the letters exchanged between Henry Clerval (a fictional friend of Victor Frankenstein murdered in Shelley's novel) and a leper in Italy. The author draws the reader into the monster's mind with a collection of memories, snippets of works he has read (ranging from the Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi to memoirs of Arctic explorations), Google searches for Mary Shelley, and more. Slowly, this tangle of people and ideas coalesce into an exquisite metafictional account of a creature's loneliness and desire to be one with humanity. The novel is challenging, beautifully constructed, and highly recommended for sophisticated readers.Andrea Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS

        Copyright 2009 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from May 15, 2009
        Imagine that the monster created by Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelleys indelible novel still walks the earth. Imagine that this being, frightening to behold yet thoughtful and sensitive, spends his life reading and writing in a quest to understand his existence and the perplexing contradictions of humankind. Just as the so-called monster is made of pieces, poet Sheck assembles a prodigious novel out of fragmentsnotes, journal entries, and letterssome fictitious, others authentic. Here are glimpses into theaudacious lives of Mary, her feminist-philosopher mother, her half-sister Fanny, herstepsister Claire, and her husband, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Here, too, are the contemplative monsters musings on Arctic explorers, art, science, the self, and the tyranny of appearance. Sheck also imagines Mary Shelleys character Henry Clerval painstakingly translating the Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber while brooding over the fate of a man with leprosy. In this empathic, virtuosic, haunting literary hybrid patterned with reflections on ice and ostracism, love and defiance, deformity and pestilence, Sheck delves into the metaphysics of otherness, the mystery of creativity, and the crushing tragedies within Shelleys circle. Sheck draws on a vast sea of inquiry as she follows the map of Mary Shelleys masterpiece to new territories of the soul and creates her own transcendent novel.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2009, American Library Association.)

popularity
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shortDescription

What if Mary Shelley had not invented Frankenstein's monster but had met him when she was a girl of eight, sitting by her mother's grave, and he came to her unbidden? What if their secret bond left her forever changed, obsessed with the strange being whom she had discovered at a time of need? What if he were still alive in the twenty-first century?

This bold, genre-defying book brings us the "monster" in his own words. He recalls how he was "made" and how Victor Frankenstein abandoned him. He ponders the tragic tale of the Shelleys and the intertwining of his life with that of Mary (whose fictionalized letters salt the narrative, along with those of her nineteenth-century intimates) in this riveting mix of fact and poetic license. He takes notes on all aspects of human striving--from the music of John Cage to robotics to the Northern explorers whose lonely quest mirrors his own--as he tries to understand the strange race that made yet shuns him, and to find his own...

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