What We're Reading Now: 'Acceptance' by Jeff Vandermeer
Souther Reach Trilogy
So the timing of this post isn’t exactly fair (you know what they say about life and fairness, right?). It’s August 29th — you’re looking for a book to take with you for the long weekend, you stop by thinking I might drop a line about one that seems perfect.
Acceptance, the third and final installment of Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy (I wrote about books one and two here), is that book except that it comes out on Tuesday, September 2nd. Apologies. You’ll have to wait out the weekend. I hope that if you haven’t cast your laptop out a window or slammed your head into your keyboard in frustration, you’ll refer to all our previous Fridays together and peruse those recommendations.
I also hope I can help rustle up some excitement for the end of what is by far (really, by far) the weirdest series I have ever read.
Up until now, our series has been propelled by questions: What do you do with the inexplicable? How do you handle the truly fantastical? The unsolvable mystery? The impenetrable? Acceptance is, alternately, propelled by discovery. Bit by bit, the previous 30 years of failed explorations, government cover-ups, and all things Area X unravel.
I was chatting with (read: accosting) a lady on the subway last week who was finishing the second book, Authority. I told her I was desperate for Vandermeer to explain everything in the end. “I need to know!” I told her, expecting her to join my rally cry. “Give us answers!” we’d scream together on the Queens-bound N train. She did not. She felt that would ruin it, that his story thus far had taken her imagination on such a ride it was only fair he leave the end open enough that it might continue. Also, she thought I was crazy.
There is potential she should write this column with logic like that. Suddenly, I didn’t want any answers either. What if it took away the magic? Is that possible? Don’t steal my (your) magic, Jeff! I honestly think we’re all reading a different book when it comes to this series. It’s so trippy and “out-there” there’s no way we’ve all seen the same things when it comes to Area X and Control and Ghost Bird — I’m not actually even sure what I’ve seen sometimes during reading — so her answer is, actually, fairly brilliant.
Book one, Annihilation, remains my favorite but probably for no reason other than the shock of the new. Acceptance is an excellent, intriguing, and challenging end. I can only assume wrapping up a series like the Southern Reach trilogy was infinitely more difficult than starting it. I won’t tell you what questions are and are not answered (maybe all! maybe none!) because, um, duh — but I hope you pick up a copy and tell me what you think!
What is everyone reading over the holiday?