I hovered over the 4 stars for this book.
I usually give 5 stars for books that I know I will go back to read time and again, but ‘Ash Cinema’ is something I felt would be diminished for me if read it again. I remember feeling similarly impressed by the movie ‘Brazil’ and vowing I would never watch that again either.
I gave Ash Cinema 5 stars because I do believe that what Rathke pulled off here is, as the rating system puts it, ‘amazing’. I’d like to think he worked incredibly hard to make the prose interesting and unique, but there’s a quality about it, a poetic flow that suggests it just oozed naturally out of him. And I think the nature of the subject matter demanded this: a significant part of it was the painful angst of lovers pouring out their need to reach each other across a vast gulf through letters. And if that idea seems ordinary to you, that’s because I haven’t explained the context, and I won’t, because I don’t believe in spoilers. Suffice to say there’s a mythic and timeless ebb to the relationships that showcases Rathke’s dreamy imagination perfectly. The barriers of death are meaningless in the world he has created. I absolutely love this kind of thing.
To me, this was a beautiful haunting told in perfectly chaotic prose.