One morning, the residents of a small coastal town somewhere in Australia wake to discover the sea has disappeared. One among them has been plagued by troubling visions of this cataclysm for years. Is she a prophet? Does she have a disorder that alters her perception of time? Or is she a gifted and compulsive liar? Mills' novel takes contemporary issues of resource depletiOne morning, the residents of a small coastal town somewhere in Australia wake to discover the sea has disappeared. One among them has been plagued by troubling visions of this cataclysm for years. Is she a prophet? Does she have a disorder that alters her perception of time? Or is she a gifted and compulsive liar? Mills' novel takes contemporary issues of resource depletion and climate change and welds them to one young woman's migraine-inducing nightmares. Her prevision anticipates a world where entire communities are left to fend for themselves: economically drained, socially fractured, trapped between a hardscrabble past and an uncertain future. Oscillating between the future and the past, Dyschronia is a novel that tantalises and dazzles, as one woman's prescient nightmares become entangled with her town's uncertain fate. Blazing with questions of consciousness, trust, and destiny, this is a wildly imaginative and extraordinary novel from award-winning author Jennifer Mills....
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Review to come.In the meantime: some sincerely beautiful and raw and dreamy and tangible writing here. It's not what you would call plot driven, but it doesn't exactly fall into character driven, either... it's somewhere in between. The story takes places across three different times within the same small (fictional) Australian town.The opening chapter is actually the start of one timeline, but 8+ years after the other timelines, and near the end we get to discover stuff from right back at the beginning, because time is not so straightforward for our MC.I feel like you'd call it sci-fi-lite crossed with magical realism in an almost literary setting.Time travel, but of the The Time Traveler's Wife variety, in that it is a biological thing and outside of our MC's control. Otherness of the Eleanor variety (the vibe of the novel is a lot closer to this than Time Traveler's Wife). Beautiful language that kind've reminded me of The Chimes (at a rough guess, though, because it's been years since I read that one).
A haunting, circular tale that loops between timelines in a small Australian town. Some beautiful writing centered on a strong sense of place.The novel operates within three timelines: two of which are from Sam's POV, the third from the remaining townspeople's POV, the collective 'we' who narrate the post-disaster present. There is something Kafka-esque about their dealings with bureaucracy, machinations in which private corporations move in, holdings pass hands, town investors receive mysterious letters and numbers are dialed where no answers are reached on the other end. All of it sets the tone of a persistent people trying to make sense of a cataclysm that cannot be explained. The town itself runs wild around them, nature overtaking the ruins of what came before, as they are left to their own devices.Sam is the centre of the story, a slave to time and visions of the future which, ironically, tend to occur because she has revealed them to others: a self-fulfilling prophecy. There is a frustration to Sam's obedience of following the course of events of a future she barely glimpses. She is a frustrating, stubborn character whose strength to see it all through I found surprisingly admirable. I read to the last page wanting to know that her suffering was worth it. Her relationship with her mother, Ivy, is fraught with tension because of her visions and the townspeople rotate between disbelief, hatred and awe of her. Ed's relationship to both Sam and Ivy seems purposely vague. While there is an initial flirtation between himself and Ivy, subsequent interactions between them seem chaste, as if they are merely strangers living in the same house. Ed subsists on Sam, Ivy and the townspeople like a parasite. He is the figurehead of the shadowy bureaucracy the townspeople become familiar with, the salesperson whose ambition and greed is easy to distrust.This book paints some of the most haunting scenes I've ever read. I recently watched the Netflix series, Dark, which similarly revolves around a town stuck in a time loop. There are scenes in the show which cut between places accompanied only by a haunting violin- this is how I pictured many of the scenes of Dyschronia. A town overcome with white frost. The sculpture of a giant white cuttlefish beneath the Ferris wheel of a long-abandoned fairground. Bloating corpses left to rot a sea-less ocean floor.I feel like this story will stay with me for awhile.
I love the way this book is imagined. For instance, time doesn't just have speed, it has weight. A young child accepts that she seen things that NOW hasn't quite caught up with. Once surprise at its narrative world wore off in the second half of the novel, perhaps it could have moved more quickly to its conclusion.
This book was provided toFarrago,the student magazine of the University of Melbourne as a media release by Picador, the review is also available on the website. Link provided below.Lyrically Looming, Jennifer Mills’ Dyschronia. Jennifer Mills: DyschroniaPicador by Pan Macmillan Australia, 2018.ISBN 9781760552206, pp. 357, $29.99 “Here’s a prediction: the future never turns out the way we think it will. Simple enough, but that’s not the end of it. The past isn’t what we thought it was either.”(237)You have no idea what you’re in for when you pick up a copy of Jennifer Mills’ Dyschronia. Captivated by the front cover’s ominous art work, you, the reader will never be sure what’s coming next and where the story goes. Following the life of Sam and the thirteen or so other remaining residents of the Australian coastal village of Clapstone, readers are faced with turbulent alterations of time throughout the novel as the town changes ownership and it becomes the goal of many companies, such as Apsco Asphalt to ‘improve’ the community. From a young age, Sam suffers horrendous migraines that give her premonitions of events to come. It is said that “everyone had headaches. But only Sam claimed there was meaning to them” (32). As Sam predicts the disappearance of the sea and multiple suicides, the “pain and perception of time created a dissociative loop, a splitting migraine as a self-fulfilling prophecy” (64). Through this Mills offers us a tormenting tale of time and the Australian landscape.The novel is heartbreakingly Australian, and as a resident of a small growing town, I felt a resonance with the writing. Everyone knows what you are doing on a given day. There is no escape from your surroundings. This is even more prevalent from Sam, who cannot escape it in any timeline.“When is this?” she asked her mother.“You mean what.” Ivy frowned between towels.“Oh yeah.” Sam smiled, but her eyes betrayed a panic.(19-20)Mills’ writing is poetry. I admired the way that the voices changed throughout the novel - the omniscient “we” speaking for some chapters, combined with Sam’s own perspective, kept me on my toes. However, whilst I was captivated by this consistent curving of time, I constantly felt like I was missing something. Like I needed to sit down and read this book with a group to understand it further. However, this may be a strength in some ways, such as for analysis in a literature class - which I do hope becomes a thing as I would love to learn more and read varying opinions. It’s intriguing and difficult to pull yourself away from - like a migraine itself, the voices of this book echo long after the initial interaction.I also felt there was a strong sense of environmentalism within the novel. Constant concerns for the ocean, and the lack of “end to the garbage” (179) we deposit into the world. Mills holds strong concerns for the means in which we interact with the world. The past, after all, impacts the future.Dyschronia is not a book I would have initially picked up, however upon reading it, it has opened new ways of considering the world for myself. If you’re looking for a beautifully written read that will keep you on your toes and leave you haunted long afterwards, this is it.“There is a thread. A ligature. Time trundles on its axis, and it unravels. A line is a line. She follows behind.”(293)http://farragomagazine.com/2018/02/06...
A bleak and intriguing climate dystopia, about greed, small towns and the inevitable destruction of our environment that's coming at us while we all pretend it's not. I sometimes struggled to keep the three different threads of the story untangled in my brain, but loved some stylistic approaches (like the collective narration of sections from the town's perspective) and found the whole book very powerful.
Incredible. Devastating. a poetic and yearning critique of industry, capitalism, greed, and people's passive belief in life going on. Amazing split narrative between the collective and the individual, and the precarious and random movements of time in individual consciousness and the earth's life. A definite dose of climate change anxiety that I had to slow down reading in order to process. A tour de force.
I picked this up because I liked the cover and really enjoyed it, even though it features time travel (of a sorts) which is not my favorite thing. It's post-apocalyptic (kind of), set in Australia, with a shifting timeline and point-of-view. Once the timelines of the points-of-view started merging, it was easier to follow - but the difficulty in following the timeline is part of the point. An interesting take on the future we're headed for if we don't curb global warming and resource exploitation soon.