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Every time Blossom comes up someone is talking about how fat she is, in one way or another. For example, when we first meet her:. Adam: Oh, by a long way! And I think that Blossom is getting quite a lot of that in this book.

House of Stairs

It might just be that it would be there in something like The Hunger Games. But there is something there, I think, about Sleator being not wholly comfortable with talking about sexuality and the body, and there does feel like there is a lot of displacement onto the figure of Blossom. Adam: A lot of focus on her tongue, as well. Not necessarily sexualising that, but there are a lot of descriptions of her tongue and what her tongue looks like. Adam: And described in a more sensory way than the rest of the book. Unlike the other characters, her parents only died very recently and until then she was part of the elite upper class, and had the luxuries associated with that.

I mean, the dystopia is always gestured towards.


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We never get a full sense of what life is like outside of this facility. Well, we get a few descriptions. Ren: I did like how you get just hints of the dystopia, I think that was done pretty well.

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And has a lot of power. Focusing on this micro-environment and then gesturing towards the rest of it. I think you definitely understand what kind of dystopia this is, without it going into great detail. Ren: Yeah, I like that about it. Oh yeah, the cars have gas masks because the air near the highway is unbreathable. Ren: And then tried to flag down help on the side of the highway, but she had to keep going back to the car to get breaths of breathable air.

THE HOUSE OF STAIRS by Barbara Vine | Kirkus Reviews

Adam: There are times when the facility sounds like a reality TV show, which is odd, because obviously this was written a couple of decades before reality TV shows really existed. Ren: It kept reminding me of this psychological TV experiment I saw, where they had a group of people in a room and there was a counter fixed on the wall that was ticking forward sometimes, and the people in the room got increasingly preoccupied with trying to work out what they were doing that was making this counter tick forwards, or not.

And in the end it was revealed that it was just ticking forward based on whether a goldfish in a tank in another room had swum to the other end of the tank or not. I guess to a degree it illustrates how conspiracy theories come about. Ren: As we were saying before we started recording, we timed this very awkwardly as this book has very few textures and the ones it has are mostly not very pleasant.

And having been vegetarian so long, I can no longer imagine meat anyway! Adam: Meat and water. Adam: Which is the whole point of Beyond Freedom and Dignity.

Tiny Desert Concert: House of Stairs

And this is a very pessimistic view of human behaviour, but it also does odd things to our understanding of morality, because if there is no free will are we able to morally condemn one another? Bad behaviour is more likely to be not as deliberately set out like that, coming from different psychological and experiential routes.

Because they were picking people out who they thought might be manipulated into becoming…. Ren: Yeah, the main twist of this book is that none of them fall of any of these alarming spiralling staircases and plunge to their deaths.


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  • Adam: None of them fall off the toilet. Which is perched in the middle of a foot-wide bridge or something ridiculous. Adam: Exactly.


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    • Better than mine. Adam: It mostly centres on Peter, you can make an argument for the character of Lola as well, I suppose. Ren: Yeah, I obviously do because I want to to find queer women in things? She has a certain vibe. The less said about Blossom the better. In an interview, Sleator mentions that each of these characters was based on a high-school friend of his. Which raises some interesting questions. A podcast in which one film lecturer and one scaredy-cat discuss creepy, spooky and disturbing children's books, films and tv.

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      Book Review: “House of Stairs” by William Sleator

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