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Publisher's Summary

Between life and death, dreaming and waking, at the train stop beyond the end of the world is the city of Palimpsest. To get there is a miracle, a mystery, a gift, and a curse - a voyage permitted only to those who’ve always believed there’s another world than the one that meets the eye. Those fated to make the passage are marked forever by a map of that wondrous city tattooed on their flesh after a single orgasmic night.

To this kingdom of ghost trains, lion-priests, living kanji, and cream-filled canals come four travelers: Oleg, a New York locksmith; the beekeeper November; Ludovico, a binder of rare books; and a young Japanese woman named Sei. They’ve each lost something important -- a wife, a lover, a sister, a direction in life—and what they will find in Palimpsest is more than they could ever imagine.

©2010 Catherynne M. Valente (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Outstandingly beautiful prose.” (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.6 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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A Book That's a Natural for Audio

Would you consider the audio edition of Palimpsest to be better than the print version?

I don't know if I'd call it "better," but it feels right. The book demands to be read aloud, so experiencing it as an audiobook is natural.

What other book might you compare Palimpsest to and why?

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Amazing as always!

I absolutely love Valente's work. I've listened to the fairy land series and six gun snow white. I didn't expect to love this book as much as I did, totally devoured it, couldn't turn it off. Makes me think of "fairy land come of age"
Fantastic performance by the reader.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The accents bring the reading to life

The narrator has the most lovely and soothing voice. Her pacing and astonishing skill with accents makes this recording a joy to experience. She is so deft with the subtle flavorings in each nation's speech that the listener can readily associate all the cultural context that really brings this story meaning.

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Interesting story.

Palimpsest is a unique story (or at least I've never read anything like it before). It's about a city who's maps are written in pieces on the skin of those in our real world. You can only get to Palimpsest by porking someone with a map on their body (like a tattoo).

The story is surreal, being divided between the real world and the world of Palimpsest. The first half of a chapter typically takes place in the real world and then we move to Palimpsest for the second half.

The four characters vary in terms of their quality. The audiobook version has a character who is very well read by the performer and also a character who has an insufferable accent which makes him almost unbearable.

If you want to check out a surreal work of fantasy with elements of horror, eroticism, and a general urban flair, you might enjoy this one.

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  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 08-09-15

Excellent Prose, but lacks maturity

I enjoyed the language, imagery, characterization and flow of this book, yet it also continually seemed to me written for a young adult audience. Perhaps when I was a much younger self I would have found the eroticism titillating, shocking, and discomforting in turns, however at my age and experience, I found sexual content rather bland. I much preferred the author’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, which had a much better balance.

There is a lot to like in this novel as it tries to create a world of fascinating mystery and dreamlike imagery, and it often does, but for me the spell was repeatedly broken, making the overall experience less than fully satisfying.

There is a significant amount of sexual content and situations that are rather mild, yet would be quite offensive to many, and would be inappropriate for younger readers.

The narration was excellent throughout.

3 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Could not even finish

I listen to this for close two 2 hours and it makes no sense I finally gave up and started listening to something else talk about a weird book. I just don't get this book. wasted my money cause I bought this one without a credit.

3 of 15 people found this review helpful

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not erotic

What disappointed you about Palimpsest?

It was hard to follow.
There is no erotic atmosphere.

Would you ever listen to anything by Catherynne M. Valente again?

probably not

Any additional comments?

It is poetic, no doubt, but there seems to be no real Story. I stopped listening after 2 hours. I think by that time one should be into a book. If not, I do not torture myself.

0 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Overly wordy

Wow, I loathed this one. Despite having my favorite narrator Aasne, this novel was simply too wordy and too fantastic to be believed. I was disappointed. The plot synopsis was intriguing but don't be fooled. The writing was very affected and irksome.

0 of 7 people found this review helpful

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