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REVIEW – The Silent Land (2010) By Graham Joyce

January 22, 2011

The Zone have my review of Joyce’s short novel The Silent Land, a story about a couple of skiers who return to their hotel only to find their holiday village deserted.  Where has everyone gone?  Why were they left behind?  The world is, as ever, silent and refuses to provide them with the Big answers they so desperately seek.

This was something of a frustrating read as while I thought the book was beautifully written and I really enjoyed not only the themes that Joyce engages with but also the way in which he engages with them, I really really struggled with the ending.  I thought it inauthentic.  I thought is empty.  I thought it cheap.  As a result, my feelings on the novel as a whole are somewhat mixed.

However, one thing that I do not have mixed feelings about is the format.  Gollancz has released The Silent Land in a format that I had not seen before: a small dust jacket-free hardback edition (a much smaller version of the hardback format favoured by roleplaying game publishers). The same format which, by the way, graces Adam Roberts’ newest literary satire The Dragon with the Girl Tattoo.  Normally, I hate hardback books.  I hate them because they are heavy to hold.  I hate them because they take up a lot of shelf space.  I hate them because they are difficult to transport.  I hate them because they are needlessly expensive.  I hate them.  In fact, I hate them so much that I will frequently avoid buying a book until it comes out in a mass market paperback edition.  If ever I make the leap to eBooks it will not be because of a love for new technology but because of my intense hatred of the technology behind the traditional hardback format.  However, despite this hatred, I really like the format that The Silent Land comes in.  It is robust enough to survive being thrown into a bag but without being heavy.  It is expensive enough that I feel like I’m supporting an author when I buy it for the full RRP but without making me feel like I’m being gouged.  I like it and hope that it takes off as an alternative to the hideous traditional paperback.

  1. January 22, 2011 12:10 pm

    It is a lovely artefact and I’d like to see more of them too.


  2. January 22, 2011 1:26 pm

    Google has failed me and I can’t find a picture of it that isn’t purely cover art, but it sounds like the same format Gollancz released his last novel in. I liked that format and, despite the fact that it reminded me of the ugly undersized hardcovers that haunted the school libraries of my youth–the sort that amount to a mass market paperback wrapped in a rough cardboard slap–it was a nice change of pace and rather charming. I’ve a fondness for undersized books that I can’t explain, so I know now to order this from the UK instead of picking up the US version.


  3. January 22, 2011 1:48 pm

    I really like those under-sized hardbacks. I remember going on a trip to York in the autumn and finding a load of Conrad novels for £1 in ancient tiny hardback editions. If I had had space to take them home I would have bought them in a second.


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