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What is Release about?
Release by Patrick Ness has a main plot that follows a day in the life of a teenage boy, Adam Thorn, who lives in a small town and has a religious family. He hasn't come out to his parents yet, and is dealing with preparing to say goodbye to his ex (who didn't treat him particularly well) at his going away party while negotiating a romance with his current boyfriend. This thread is the majority of the book and fits snugly into the contemporary young adult coming of age story. The book is also influenced heavily by Mrs. Dalloway from Virginia Woolf and Forever by Judy Blume. Both books I haven't read yet. Adam is searching for a release on several different levels with his family and with himself.
The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan is one of my favorite books because of its hard to place genre and literary mode. The beautiful prose and compelling story helps too. I also loved the atmosphere created with the reader experiencing Taiwan along with the main character.
This book opens a lot of doors bringing experimental fiction to the mainstream. It is a well received success with critics as well as readers. This is hard to do with a book that doesn't fit neatly into a traditional marketing category or genre.
I had heard of this book through the years in different circles when I lived in New York City. When my current Lille/Brussels writing group brought up reading it, I was interested in checking it out. I bought the twenty-fifth anniversary edition published in 2007 entitled The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World. The original title was The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property, I prefer the latter title and think it captures its essence much better. I love books about creativity and leading a creative life and this book did have a profound effect on me and my view of the world.
So, here are the ten takeaways I had after reading it: