What if Mary Shelley had not invented Frankenstein’s monster but had met him when she was a girl of eight, sitting by her mother’s grave, and he came to her unbidden? What if their secret bond left her forever changed, obsessed with the strange being whom she had discovered at a time of need? What if he were still alive in the twenty-first century?
This bold, genre-defying book brings us the “monster” in his own words. He recalls how he was “made” and how Victor Frankenstein abandoned him. He ponders the tragic tale of the Shelleys and the intertwining of his life with that of Mary (whose fictionalized letters salt the narrative, along with those of her nineteenth-century intimates) in this riveting mix of fact and poetic license. He takes notes on all aspects of human striving—from the music of John Cage to robotics to the Northern explorers whose lonely quest mirrors his own—as he tries to understand the strange race that made yet shuns him, and to find his own freedom of mind.
In the course of the monster’s musings, we also see Mary Shelley’s life from her childhood through her elopement with Percy Bysshe Shelley, her writing of Frankenstein, the births and deaths of her children, Shelley’s famous drowning, her widowhood, her subsequent travels and life’s work, and finally her death from a brain tumor at age fifty-four. The monster’s fierce bond with Mary and the tale of how he ended up in her fiction is a haunted, intense love story, a story of two beings who can never forget each other.
A Monster’s Notes is Sheck’s most thrilling work to date, a luminous meditation on creativity and technology, on alienation and otherness, on ugliness and beauty, and on our need to be understood.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of Business & Economics eBook: A Monster's Notes|
|Release Date: 06-23-2009|
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|Publisher: Random House, Inc.|
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A Monster's Notes
Chapter OneA LETTER
June 30, 2007
Dear Mr. Emilson,
This is to inform you that the final closing on your building on East 6th Street was successfully completed at 10:15 this morning. I have deposited the check as you instructed. The new owners will begin renovations tomorrow. In our previous communications, I asserted that the structure, now in great disrepair, was completely abandoned. However, yesterday afternoon as I made my last walk-through, I found on the second floor a short note, a manuscript wrapped in a rubber band, and an old computer. As these technically belong to you, please let me know if you want them forwarded to your London address. I have not unbound the manuscript, but reproduce for you here the short note left on top:
So much blurs ... I write then forget what I write ... walk these streets, a stranger to myself and others ... Then sometimes it all suddenly flares back-my breath catches, my brain aches. How long have I wandered, talking in my thoughts to the one who made me from dead, discarded things, then left me? Why did he need to see me as frightful, misbegotten? I know he'll never hear, never answer.
Walking, I remember the other ones as well, those three I watched though none of them could see me. Isn't seeing a wounding and caressing both? All of them gone now, though once I held them with my secret eyes and in my own way loved them. Mary, Claire, Clerval ... All those hours they visited me in air, came to me as voices made of flesh, ripe with shades of meaning, though in the end all that's left of them is absence.
Why did she need to portray me as she did? For so long I tried not to think...