Crazy Hugo Project: Palimpsest

If Little Kitty still had her lady cat parts she’d find something better to do with them than go to Palimpsest.

The Crazy Hugo Project proceeds apace with the reading of Catherynne M. Valente’s Palimpsest. This book is about a city, Palimpsest, which you can only visit if you have a strange fragmental Palimpsest street map “tattoo” on your body. You get one when you have had sex with someone else who has a tattoo and only after you have visited the frog fortune teller in Palimpsest. Of course the frog fortune teller (she’s an actual frog person, not “she tells frogs their fortune”) wont see individuals so 4 people at one time sit to have their fortune read.

Palimpsest follows four people as they try to figure out what’s going on, learn the ropes and try to immigrate to Palimpsest, for in Palimpsest your fondest dreams, obsessions, whathaveyou are so much better than anything in the real world. Thus, the obsessed people who visit Palimpsest try everything they can to go back as often as they can. There’s a lot of sex in this book, to the point where I got bored. The book had 5 basic sections to it: Character 1’s story progression, character 2’s story progression, character 3’s story progression, character 4’s story progression and a Crazy City Vignette. Wash, rinse, repeat and every character vignette ended in some sort of sex. That got really old after the first 60 pages; the book has 367 pages.

The other problem I had with this book is that the author wrote Palimpsest so utterly bizarre and absurd and then seemed to call attention to it. LOOK AT MY CRAZY CITY! SEE HOW CRAZY IT IS!!! Yeah, I get it, river of coats, frog fortune tellers, whatever, can I have a little character development please? No? Well OK then. I’ve read things that were fantastical without the feeling of the author pointing to said strange thing and saying “Hey, isn’t this just strange!” I got tired of that too.

Lastly, I just didn’t’ care about the characters. If they found their heart’s desire well then good. If they didn’t, well then whatever. I have plenty of other books to read. One of the characters finally got interesting about 300 pages in but then it was just way to little too late.

The things I did like about the story is that it was decently written (nouns, verbs adjectives all conforming to the basic English rules and so forth). I didn’t particularly care about the characters or the city but at least it was a decent read through my not caring. There were also parts of the story I thought were kinda neat, like the the lady who makes Palimpsest’s vermin. She has a machine that stamps cockroaches and a lizard-pour. I love that, what a perfect name for those machines making lizards and cockroaches. The other thing that was kind of interesting is that when you hooked up with another map fragment having person, you could only visit that part of Palimpsest that they had depicted on their skin somewhere.

All in all, this was a really neat idea that failed to live up to its potential. I’d say that Palimpsest is definitely in third place but for the sake of brevity, I’m going to pop it all the way down to 6th place. TheMan really liked Jullian Comstock and I can’t imagine Wake or the Nebula winning The Windup Giirl being as…uninteresting as Palimpsest


1. Boneshaker.
1.5. The City & The City.
3. ?
4. ?
5. ?
6. Palimpsest

2009: “Fine. I’ll just hole up here until you come to you senses and stop fiddling with that snappy flashy human stupid thing and go about properly bestowing 14th birthday scritchie wishes upon my person.”

2008: Speaking of charm, Isaak wants you all to know that he is cute, damnit. He is too. Very cute. AS CUTE AS A BUTTON SO PET HIM ALREADY!!!1!!

2007: Neither cat has learned how to ride a bike, although Little Kitty and I have a new routine when I do laundry, which involves her hopping into the clothes basket and getting a ride upstairs.

2006: I think 11 is the year in which a cat goes totally ape shit because OH! The cat drama!

2005: However, in commemoration of today being a cat rollover, I’ll intermix some random pics I have loafing about on the powerbook.

2004: The “I” and What is That THING???

2003: Mostly, it had to do with visiting new parents and having to say something about their grotesquely ugly new born.

One Response to “Crazy Hugo Project: Palimpsest”

  1. TeacherPatti Says:

    That is such a cute pix of Little Kitty!!! She has this look on her face like, “I could read that book if I chose to; I choose not to and I instead choose to sleep. Get me some food, hoo-man.”

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