Cover Image: The Swallowed Man

The Swallowed Man

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Member Reviews

Edward Carey always finds interesting ways to retell beloved stories. I didn't love this one as much as I did "Little," but I'm still impressed by his unique writing style and story ideas.

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Edward Carey is a beautiful writer and this book was all the more meaningful after having read his wife, Elizabeth McCracken's "An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination," which details the loss of Carey and McCracken's first son.

In some ways, this book could be a poem instead. It was a bit slow for me, but I think that there are lots of people more patient than me who would get a lot out of this. But Carey is very smart and clever, and this is a creative book. I am really interested in reading some longer, more analytic reviews.

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I loved the premise of this book - Pinocchio's father swallowed by an enormous sea creature while searching for his lost son. The premise of a creature so big it could swallow an entire ship and that being the "home" of Gepetto while in the ship was believable.. The nostalgia as he recalled his youth, his loves and his creations - wonderful. Even the tension between his father and him regarding the familial talents, pottery vs woodworking.. Even the creation of his wooden boy and their tales, including the infamous growing nose.. They all weaved a fine story and one you were willing to hang on for .and then it just went wonky. I understand that the longer he stays in the creature, the darker things get, literally and figuratively, but I just didn't want to go along with him after a point. I think it just wasn't what I expected. The writing is excellent, however, I do not think the illustrations added to the text.

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Not on the list of fairytale reimaginings I’ve always hoped for: Pinocchio, but from Geppetto’s perspective while trapped inside the sea beast.

And yet the über-bizarre concept worked beautifully and made for a haunting and unique tale.

Pity poor Geppetto, who was oh so lonely and lost that he carved himself a son, only to have that son (ungrateful upstart that he was) abandon him for parts unknown, leaving poor Geppetto even more lonely and lost. And then he gets swallowed by a giant sea beast. And you thought YOU were having a bad year.

Though I was consistently a little put off by the semi-hysterical tone (Watching people descent into madness: Never a great read), the story was beautifully executed conceptually. And though I would have preferred less screaming, the sense of haunting loneliness that plagues Geppetto as he lives out his days inside the leviathan is enthralling and palpable.

The story is blessedly short, and entirely appropriate in length for the tone and topic. But regardless of brevity, it packs a punch that makes you think on the themes of loneliness and desire for companionship in new and interesting ways that just don’t hit the same when the story is told from Pinocchio’s perspective.

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I’m judging a 2021 fiction contest. It’d be generous to call what I’m doing upon my first cursory glance—reading. I also don’t take this task lightly. As a fellow writer and lover of words and books, I took this position—in hopes of being a good literary citizen. My heart aches for all the writers who have a debut at this time. What I can share now is the thing that held my attention and got this book from the perspective pile into the read further pile.

“It may have been a yellow, oily smear to you; it may have been hardly worth the effort; but to me it was the great flame of living. This flower, this beautiful ghost, this miracle of nature!”

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Adjectives that come to my mind when trying to describe this book? Odd and strange are the first to come to mind. Carey has written the memoir of Geppetto, the creator of Pinocchio, as Geppetto lives his life in the belly of the huge fish that has swallowed him. Luckily, there is a ship which also has been swallowed in the fish’s belly for Geppetto to live on. This fish exile gives him a chance to ponder his treatment of his wooden son. There is humor but basically it is a dark story about the responsibility of fathers.

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Strange and wonderful. It actually left me speechless but in the best possible way. We at A Mighty Blaze are going to be live interviewing Edward along with his wife Elizabeth and we cannot wait.

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It’s been awhile since I saw the Disney version of Pinocchio and after this review I will be doing some googling....

I loved Carey’s odd storytelling and illustrations. I feel it is unlike anything being put out there today. As I would love to read all of his books I’m glad I read this although I think Little, the only other book I read and absolutely fell in love with, I feel was much better.

I felt the story started strong Allen’s waned towards the end...what a unique premise though!

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I know that Edward Carey is an acquired taste--those that love his writing, love it thoroughly. I could not get past the first few pages, however. Something about it did not capture my attention and I felt no desire to explore the story. However, I am sure that others will disagree!

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