My notes tell me I got a review copy, via NetGalley, of this book on July 17, 2013.
I’m sure the folks at Open Road Media will be happy to know that, while the reviewing mill at MarzAat grinds exceedingly slow, it grinds exceedingly …
Well, perhaps not fine. There’s a lot going on in this novel. I’m not sure, after about a month, I totally understand the relationships between all the characters. That’s appropriate because one of Whittemore’s themes is “relationships can be quite complex. Quite complex when we look into it.”
One of the advantages of the Web of a Million Lies is that you can steal the work of others — or, if you prefer, draw upon the wisdom and insight of others.
So, in that spirit, I’ll refer you to others if you want a more detailed description of plot than what I’ll give in my review:
- Jeff Topham’s review from 2003
- Jerome Charyn’s review from New York Times Book Review, 1974.
- A Time magazine article, circa 1974 from one J. S.
Quin’s Shanghai Circus was the first of Whittemore’s five novels, published from 1974 to 1987. None sold well though there were some favorable reviews. Old Earth Books mounted a resurrection operation on Whittemore’s reputation in 2003. (Whittemore died in 1995.)
It worked — at least in gaining critical favor. Gary K. Wolfe favorably reviewed all of Whittemore’s work in the March 2003 issue of Locus. Jeff VanderMeer wrote about Whittemore’s influence on him in 2002.
I don’t know how successful Old Earth Books was in terms of sales on Whittemore’s books, but, in 2013, Open Road Media attached the marketing electrodes up to Whittemore’s corpus and tried to revive his reputation again via e-book editions.
I remain agnostic on Whittemore’s worth.
I read his Sinai Tapestry in 2004. In my notes, I said it was “a picturesque novel with nothing much at the core”. That was my reaction to this one too, so I still don’t know if I’ll tackle the rest of the Jerusalem Quartet, as the series of Whittemore’s last four books are known.
Review: Quin’s Shanghai Circus, Edward Whittemore, 1974.
Come the acts of memory,
A Shanghai circus.
So, one character in this novel ponders before the apocalyptic end of Quin’s Shanghai Circus, a fake event in the middle of this novel.
There are two things you need to know about this novel.
It has no quotation marks.
It’s a spy’s novel, specifically a spy with a sense of drama.
And that’s what Whittemore was: an ex-CIA case officer who took up being a novelist. Continue reading