Miss Subwaysby David Duchovny Published 01 May 2018
|Publisher||Farrar, Straus and Giroux|
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Emer is just a woman living in New York City who takes the subway, buys ice cream from the bodega on the corner, has writerly aspirations, and lives with her boyfriend, Con. But is this life she lives the only path she’s on? Taking inspiration from the myth of Emer and Cuchulain and featuring an all-star cast of mythical figures from all around the world, David Duchovny’s darkly funny fantasy novel Miss Subways is one woman’s trippy, mystical journey down parallel tracks of time and love. On the way, Emer will battle natural and supernatural forces to find her true voice, power, and destiny. A fairy tale of love lost and regained, Miss Subways is also a love letter to the city that enchants us all: New York.
"Miss Subways" Reviews
‘’Because ye old gods are not dead. They walk among us still, with their pagan ideas and habits, waiting for reanimation. They are lonely. They are bored. And very, very pissed off.’’
Well, this is a difficult task, writing a review about such an outstanding book that integrates all the best elements of a number of genres. Urban Fantasy, Folklore, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Magical Realism, you name it. If you enjoy any of these genres, if you are keen on world traditions and religions, if Gaiman’s American Gods is one of your absolute, most favourite books, if you love New York or if you simply want to read one of the best novels of the year, then Miss Subways was written for you.
The story follows Emer, a young woman who commutes daily to her work. Emer is a teacher in the second grade class of a private Catholic school whose principle is a snazzy, sassy, absolutely wonderful priest. She is in a relationship with a rather aloof man who goes by the name Con. Now, for reasons beyond her understanding, Emer and Con cannot be together. The powers that be (wherever they are) want them apart and Emer accepts. However, Fate has other plans and our heroine finds herself in a vortex of rules, teachings and strange otherworldly figures, all gathered in the endlessly mesmerizing setting of New York.
Now, I feel that the paragraph above must be the worst synopsis of a book ever written but truly, it is impossible to summarize Miss Subways in a cohesive paragraph. It is so rich and complex and one must read it to fully comprehend its essence. First of all, the influence of American Gods is evident. However, Duchovny uses this inspiration to create a plot with its very own character and substance and not for a moment did I think I was reading a copycat, The major difference is that Duchovny's focus is placed on the humans and not on the deities and the mythical figures, The story at the heart of this novel is the relationship between Emer and Con, inspired by a well known Irish myth of the Union of Emer and Cú Chulainn, the greatest hero in Irish Mythology. In our contemporary version, it is Emer who has to pass the trials to defend her love and the odds of our era are always stranger and much more complex than any mythical ordeal.
The writing is beautiful. Approachable and literary, poetic and sharp. The saltry, urban scenery of New York provides the best background for a story where gods and myths need to be lost among the mortals and their mundane lives. The descriptions of the city, whether we’re reading morning or nightly scenes, are hypnotic. There is one of the most beautiful descriptions of Central Park I’ve ever read and mystifying Chinatown jumps right out of the page. Papa Legba, Sidhe, Anansi. The myths of the Aboriginals, the teaching of Chinese philosophy, the wealth of Celtic tradition. There are references to the Witches of Macbeth. Deities from different cultures retain all the characteristics of their homelands, antagonizing and cooperating with each other according to their purposes. There is a wonderful passage where Sidhe describes the behavior of the gods in the myths we love. He talks of an age when feelings were experienced to the fullest by deities and mortals alike.
Emer is someone I immediately loved. She is a teacher who lives and breaths for her profession, she has a close relationship with her father and her only best friend is an adorable, edgy lunatic. She remains firmly nailed to her principles and doesn't let her heart rule her mind. She’s courageous with a deep sense of never giving up. Duchovny writes with respect about a teacher’s feelings of love and hope. The satisfaction when the little ones start reading for the first time was movingly portrayed. It’s rare for a writer to pay such an homage to the teaching profession and I was truly moved. I could relate to each and very feeling and every classroom scene described by Emer and this made me fall in love with the novel.
Take away the folklore and the mythical influences of the story and you’ll still have a beautiful and touching exploration of aspirations, fears and insecurities. A quirky, moving, clever and complex love story and above all, a story about the obstacles a woman has to surpass in every stage of her life. Duchovny writes excellent female characters and Miss Subways definitely deserves all the praise it receives.
‘’The very next morning, Emer was back on the train. What did it mean that she spent so much of her life underground? Regardless of whether or not she’d ever be crowned, Emer felt in her bones that she was and always will be Miss Subways.’’
Many thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange of an honest review.
My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.word...
I absolutely loved this eclectic piece of fiction! All the Stars!!!
You have to be able to suspend disbelief to love this one. Duchovny is an excellent and edgy writer. I was actually blown away by his writing. Also, this book sucked me in from the very beginning and never let go! I think Emer, the main character, will stay with me for a very long time.
If you can, get the audio! It’s so freaking good! There are two main narrators. Emer is played by Duchovny’s ex-wife, Tea Leoni. She’s fabulous! Duchovny is also just as fabulous in his narration!
Highly recommended to people who like unique, sweet, and wacky fiction!
Stranger than any episode of “The X-Files” is David Duchovny’s transformation into a novelist. This isn’t another sad case of those celebrities Who Just Do Stuff. Duchovny actually demonstrates some literary panache. Starting in 2015 with “Holy Cow” — narrated by an itinerant Holstein — he’s been publishing charming novels that glitter with silliness.
His latest is an old-fashioned romantic comedy that takes its title from the Miss Subways posters that featured attractive working women on New York subway cars for several decades starting in 1941. But the story’s real inspiration reaches back many more centuries to the tale of Emer and Cu Chulainn in Irish mythology. Consequently, this may be the only novel ever to start with epigraphs by W.B. Yeats and Ed Koch. Take that incongruity as fair warning for the blarney that lies ahead.
Our heroine, Emer, is a talented first-grade teacher in modern-day New York City. Like this novel, her personality is. . . .
To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post:
To watch the Totally Hip Video Book Review of this novel, go here:
4.5 Stars. I admit, I am slightly negatively biased against celebrity written fiction, having been burned by it in the past. That being said, I clearly wasn’t expecting Miss Subways to be anything special, and yet it was. Many sections of it were perfect, and I do not say that lightly.
The protagonist, Emer, has to save her man, Con, from the clutches of Ananzi the spider. Blend Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Neverwhere, then switch the beta male characters for an incredibly normal woman with normal flaws and insecurities and you will have a vague inkling of the book’s mood. In fact, I was a little blown away at just how realistically female Elmer’s inner dialogue was written. I’ve seen a trend of male writers making their female characters either madonnas or whores— Emer refreshingly fell into neither of those categories. She is the hero on the quest. This is her odyssey to traverse and she steps up into the role. Only she has the power to save the king. Reality blurs with myth, legend, and religion.
The main reason I can’t give this a full five stars is because the anti-political correctness message felt preachy after awhile. It was out of place and took a little magic away from the rest of the book.
Warning: Duchovny placed not one, but TWO earworms into my head while reading today. All morning I hummed, “Yes, We Have No Bananas.” Then he did not even feign being sneaky when he stuck The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” into my head. That was the soundtrack to the writing of this review.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an unbiased review.
Originally published on The Nerd Daily and The Reading Bee's Bookshelf | Review by Jasmine Shaheen
Disclaimer: This is one of the most peculiar and eccentric books you’ll ever encounter; it’ll flip your mind, you have been warned. Read at your own risk!
Miss Subways is inspired by the Irish mythology of Cuchulain, a warrior who has the love of all women, but none of them is good enough for him, intellectually. Until, Emer. She challenges him that he has to earn her love and prove it. In Miss Subways, however, it doesn’t seem like that when you first start reading the book. Most of the time, I found myself asking “Why the hell does Emer want to save Con? Why does she want him back?” Her character is so much more intricate, her brains deserve a match of her own, and I honestly couldn’t find that in Con at all. Con was more of an ass than anything when he was first introduced, and yet, they clicked! Perhaps, one of the things that Duchovny was trying to convey is that love doesn’t make sense, it just happens! I’m quite certain of that because that literally happened.
Seriously though, Miss Subways is not what I had expected at all when I first read the synopsis. It’s New York City with all its leprechauns, demons, fairies and a great sense of nonsense that makes sense. But when I read the synopsis, it reminded me of that movie Sliding Doors and I thought it was going to be a light read on a woman who is living two realities and trying to save the man she loves in a mythical New York setting, you know, the usual!
While this remains true, it’s not exactly the story, because the story is so much more than that. This is a character-driven story, and the main character Emer—in my opinion—is the story herself; it was almost like an autopsy of a mind. Throughout the story, I was intrigued by Emer’s thoughts, analysis, and behavior. It was both equally natural and complex. The more you read Emer’s mind, the more you understand the meaning of being human. You don’t get a straight answer; you get an amalgamation of ideas, conflicts, emotions, and doubts that your mind starts twirling because you can’t grasp a thread of sense; of one true thing. Miss Subways is thought-provoking, intellectual and a challenging read. It makes you question reality; why we do things in certain ways and why do things happen in a certain way?!
One of the things that I really admired about the book is how bold and brave the writing is, it just proves that the book can not only be read as a modern fantasy but as a reflecting mirror of the world today. The author is honest and straightforward about giving his opinion on all things that matter; religion, politics, and social behaviors. Whether or not you agree with them, it is refreshing to put the walls down and stop censoring yourself. Miss Subways is quite a read you don’t want to miss, and it hits bookshelves on May 1st 2018.
Being a fan of David’s other books (Holy Cow & Bucky F*cking Dent) I was excited to hear his third book contained touches of magic (I’m a big sci-fi, fantasy & horror reader). It’s still a human scale story, focusing on a woman living in NYC, Emer. Told from her point of view, her life as a teacher, her relationship with her boyfriend Con, are all pretty normal and satisfying, but things change quickly. Early on, some mysterious figures insert themselves into her life and send Emer and Con down an alternate tracks. Will those tracks ever reconverge? Can their love conquer the whims of the old, bored gods still rambling around NYC? Gods & mythological figures have a long history of messing with mortals just because they can. But what happens when the mortals aren’t quite mortal? With David’s blend of humor, emotion, and touches of the the surreal, Miss Subways is my favorite of his (so far, I hope he keeps writing).