The Last Days of New Paris

The Last Days of New Paris - China Miéville In Paris, you had to be ready to fight art and the Hellish – not to mention Nazis – so they labored under weapons for all eventualities.

It's another one of them alternative histories about WWII – but this time it's about Surrealist art fighting Nazis and demons in Paris. If you don't want to read that, there's probably no help for you anyway.

I felt sorry for the demons, btw.

A fucking storm, a reconfiguration, a shock wave of mad love, a burning blast of unconscious.
Paris fell, or rose, or fell, or rose, or fell.

While The Last Days of New Paris was definitely a ride on the weird side, riding S-Blast instead of S-Gerät, it was not as wild or nightmarish as it could have been, a bit too tame, too little sex and drugs and Rock'n'Roll for my personal taste. But my main problems are personal ones and not concerned with any technical issues: for one, novellas always give me a bit of a hard time; I need more time and space to care about a story. And (just like with every novella I've ever read) the plot here seemed a bit thin, a flat canvas, invoking just the pretence of depth. For two, I simply don't like Naziploitation, and this here wasn't an exception from the rule.

It is beautifully written, though.
Maybe even a bit too beautiful, with too much care on a sentence to sentence level. And maybe I read it a bit too fast: I liked the prose, but I also felt like overindulging on caramel chocolate from time to time. Being who I am, someone who frequently overindulges on caramel chocolate, that didn't stop me from reading this one too fast – so there.

”Something doesn't make sense,” Thibaut says.
“Really?” Sam says. “Just one thing?”

Very helpful resource

This is also one of these stories where Google wikipedia a bit of knowledge about WWII, especially French history, and Surrealism proves to be really helpful. I have the former, I lack the latter. My response to fine art is similar to my response to poetry: I can appreciate the effort, but it leaves me ultimately indifferent. Surrealist art, though, is a constant deja-vu, every work a picture already seen, the familiarity of forgotten dreams. Miéville sends the reader on a treasure-hunt for manifs – there's a extensive appendix, and Goodreads readers, always so incredibly helpful, have already provided a lot in their status updates, but it was fun to search for the different works of art and learn a bit about their history.
Just a pity I can't speak French.