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The Sub

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At the very moment substitute teacher Diana Turney recovers "memories" of sexual abuse at the hands of her father, she finds herself wielding a potent brand of witchcraft--the Circe-like ability to turn people into their totemic animals.


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At the very moment substitute teacher Diana Turney recovers "memories" of sexual abuse at the hands of her father, she finds herself wielding a potent brand of witchcraft--the Circe-like ability to turn people into their totemic animals.

30 review for The Sub

  1. 5 out of 5

    Randolph

    This is volume 4 and the final volume in Thomas Disch's Supernatural Minnesota quartet. It has more of a straight forward story and plot than the other three volumes. It still has Disch's clever surprises, twists and turns to resolve the various plot threads. It also is the most optimistic of the four volumes; the wicked get theirs' the innocent (or at least the least corrupt) get their lives back in a way that leaves them better off than before. Love wins out in the end and evil is vanquished. D This is volume 4 and the final volume in Thomas Disch's Supernatural Minnesota quartet. It has more of a straight forward story and plot than the other three volumes. It still has Disch's clever surprises, twists and turns to resolve the various plot threads. It also is the most optimistic of the four volumes; the wicked get theirs' the innocent (or at least the least corrupt) get their lives back in a way that leaves them better off than before. Love wins out in the end and evil is vanquished. Diana Turney is a single regular substitute elementary school teacher. During an economic downturn she is switched to a temporary job (she's not assured a job somewhere each day) and she subsequently quits. See Diana liked her job because it gave her power over others. It's also why she can't seem to keep a permanent partner. This will become very important later. Diana discovers through an unlikely accident that she is a Wiccan and can turn others into an animal form that reflects their human nature (or at least as Diana sees them) under certain circumstances. This starts the main plot going. The theme will be that power without love corrupts and corrupts absolutely. This will be seen in many characters but particularly Diana. Shamanism figures greatly in the story but I cannot really figure out exactly what Disch is getting at except to perhaps contrast it as a "natural" type of spirituality versus, a man made religion Christianity, which he takes another swipe at in The Sub. Disch also uses some of his favorite themes, pedophilia, rape, murder, sadism, and incest to shadow the corrupt. Only the good hearted simp Alan Johnson seems to be immune to the evil influences. It seems the intelligent spend too much time thinking. There is a good foreword by Elizabeth Hand that doesn't ruin much so you don't have to leave it for later as you do in the other volumes. University of Minnesota Press does a nice job with this volume again and this one matches the other four in the quartet.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Seth T.

    The Sub was interesting. I think I mostly enjoyed it as much as I did because I hadn't known what to expect. Let me now ruin that ability for you. The novel mines very much a similar vein to Gaiman's American Gods. Only without any of the gods. Still, there's magic and shamanism and small towns and boonies. And the narrative is peppered with humourous notes. Really though, the thing that makes this novel work best is its shifting narrative plane. Chapter by chapter, Disch leaps from one character The Sub was interesting. I think I mostly enjoyed it as much as I did because I hadn't known what to expect. Let me now ruin that ability for you. The novel mines very much a similar vein to Gaiman's American Gods. Only without any of the gods. Still, there's magic and shamanism and small towns and boonies. And the narrative is peppered with humourous notes. Really though, the thing that makes this novel work best is its shifting narrative plane. Chapter by chapter, Disch leaps from one character's perspective to another. He does so sensibly and this effort helps the reader empathize with characters who had previously been shown in an unfavourable light. The story is well-paced and kept me interested throughout. The unraveling of mysteries and the up-tying of ends loosed within the story all worked well for me; and Disch's writing was competent enough to engage even a sense of joy while reading. I picked up The Sub as a distraction from Dave Eggers' What Is the What and Disch's authorship was a revelation in comparison with Eggers' lifeless words in the latter book. In any case, The Sub was a fun, quick read. Great travel reading. ASIDE: I had read some complaints of misogyny on the part of the author. These are wholly unfounded. Disch takes an equal opportunity to portray the bulk of his characters in negative light. Male. Female. It doesn't matter. Their most visible traits are all undesirable and Disch does not cease to poke fun at them, their inadequacies, and their hypocrisies.

  3. 4 out of 5

    A. E. S.

    Absolutely hated this book. I have a tendency to collect books on witchcraft fiction and this is now my newest least favorite. There was no main protagonist. My main beef is that they treated the central witch character as an uncontrolled, evil woman who plays with powers beyond her comprehension. Great if you like grown-up stories that are fairy-tale like, i.e. evil witch vs. Hansel and Gretel.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nigel

    Sometimes rereading a book is like reading it for the first time. I first read this when it originally came out in 1999 - the year I got married! Yay! - but I have no real memory of what happened in it. I was pretty sure there were pigs involved somewhere. This was the last book in Disch's Supernatural Minnesota series, and it mines familiar Dischian themes of fundamentalist religion and the banality of evil. It's a masterful, assured, wonderfully written tale of ghosts and witchcraft and shaman Sometimes rereading a book is like reading it for the first time. I first read this when it originally came out in 1999 - the year I got married! Yay! - but I have no real memory of what happened in it. I was pretty sure there were pigs involved somewhere. This was the last book in Disch's Supernatural Minnesota series, and it mines familiar Dischian themes of fundamentalist religion and the banality of evil. It's a masterful, assured, wonderfully written tale of ghosts and witchcraft and shamanism, all grounded in mundane and familiar human passions and foibles and failings. Disch had a keen satirist's eye, and though he saved the worst of his ire for Christian intolerance, wiccans and atheists and Indian skinwalkers prove no less evil and destructive. Diana Turney is a substitute teacher out of work after a scandal shuts down her school. While her sister is in prison for shooting her husband, she goes to live with the husband to care for their daughter Kelly. She recovers memories of her father abusing her as a child and encounters his malevolent ghost in the smokehouse of the family home, and suddenly she has the power to turn people into animals. A large cast of characters is drawn into the web of evil she weaves with her new-found abilities, corrupting innocence and unearthing horrible secrets. Disch carries off a complex plot full of the unexpected with ease and skill and invents a range of flawed and interesting characters depicted with unflinching accuracy. Not as dazzling and epic as The MD, perhaps, but then The MD may be one of the best books ever, but still a brilliant horror novel of rare literary merit, moral complexity and real power.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mahin711 Swagger Down

    The main character of this book is James. He switches places with his best friend, Ray because there is a substitute teacher. At first they thought it would be cool or funny. When they were at it, switched and all, hey realized that this wasn't so funny. Whenever Ray did something bad, James' name got written on the board. The same thing happened when James did something bad, Ray got in trouble. They were both new to the people around them. They were shocked when hey heard the sub was staying a The main character of this book is James. He switches places with his best friend, Ray because there is a substitute teacher. At first they thought it would be cool or funny. When they were at it, switched and all, hey realized that this wasn't so funny. Whenever Ray did something bad, James' name got written on the board. The same thing happened when James did something bad, Ray got in trouble. They were both new to the people around them. They were shocked when hey heard the sub was staying another three days. James didn't want to get in trouble for Ray's behavior. He decided to tell Mr. Hart. When he got to school, the sub was still there. James and Ray stayed quiet for another two days. He next day, Ray broke his leg in gym and the gym teacher knew his name, so James and Ray were in big trouble when the sub finds out. James decided to tell he sub the truth to the sub. The sub just laughed and said she knew it the whole time. Everything ended okay and Mr. Hart was glad since James and Ray learned a lesson.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Traummachine

    This is the tale of a substitute teacher who can turn people into animals, and the power goes to her head. It's also a tale of love and hatred, and of the good, evil, and conflicting desires that drive people. This was my favorite book of the series. While it retains the weirdness, there's more actual plot going on here. The moodiness of the prior books is still there, but instead of presenting it through character introspection it's just sort of...there. As much as I dug the prior books, this fe This is the tale of a substitute teacher who can turn people into animals, and the power goes to her head. It's also a tale of love and hatred, and of the good, evil, and conflicting desires that drive people. This was my favorite book of the series. While it retains the weirdness, there's more actual plot going on here. The moodiness of the prior books is still there, but instead of presenting it through character introspection it's just sort of...there. As much as I dug the prior books, this felt a little more polished, and it was just more fun. It wasn't until this final story that I saw the recurring theme to the Supernatural Minnesota books; most of the major characters had control over others, while others controlled them. There's a resistance to this control, but for the most part the characters just accept it and go about their business. It's an interesting expression of the same fatalism that King sometimes gives his characters, but it's much more subtle in Disch's books. I'm sad the series is over, but I'll definitely read more of his sci-fi soon.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joaquin

    Didn't bump into anything super new or clever here. This book kind of fell in between a bunch of genres for me, and it was hard to pin one down as a frame of reading reference. So it ended up being hard for me to settle down for a good reading session with the book. Like putting on some underwear that's just a tad too small and feeling just a little off all day, y'know? It was interesting enough to see how it ends, though.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jacquelyn

    I was liking it until the middle, and then it got tedious. I didn't like even one character by the end.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Summer Seeds

    It started out interesting and then it got weird and then I was just really confused as to what was evening going on

  10. 4 out of 5

    Simona Stefani

    A volte mi capita di non sapere se un libro mi sia piaciuto o meno. Questa è una di quelle volte. Quando lasci il libro e pensi "mmm carino" e finisce lì. La storia promette bene ma, complice una traduzione non proprio perfetta e alcuni avvenimenti troppo repentini, si trasforma un po' in un baraccone. Diana Turney (che a volte diventa Diana Turner o Dana... ahi ahi le correzioni di bozze poco attente) è una supplente elementare abbastanza tranquilla e remissiva. In seguito al licenziamento si tra A volte mi capita di non sapere se un libro mi sia piaciuto o meno. Questa è una di quelle volte. Quando lasci il libro e pensi "mmm carino" e finisce lì. La storia promette bene ma, complice una traduzione non proprio perfetta e alcuni avvenimenti troppo repentini, si trasforma un po' in un baraccone. Diana Turney (che a volte diventa Diana Turner o Dana... ahi ahi le correzioni di bozze poco attente) è una supplente elementare abbastanza tranquilla e remissiva. In seguito al licenziamento si trasferisce dal cognato per accudire la nipotina, mentre la mamma, sorella di Diana, è in carcere per tentato omicidio. Qui Diana si trasforma improvvisamente in strega, e intendo proprio improvvisamente. Dall'oggi al domani, senza nessuna avvisaglia, nessun turbamento interiore, nessuna metamorfosi progressiva del carattere. Solamente uno strano olezzo che gli altri sentono. Insomma Diana diventa in una notte una strega perfida e sanguinaria, capace di trasformare le persone in animali. Preso atto di queste veloci trasformazioni, e senza porci ulteriori domande, il racconto prosegue in maniera coerente e spedita, arrivando ad una conclusione che comunque lascia abbastanza soddisfatti. La Strega è l'ultimo libro di una quadrilogia ambientata in un Minnesota magico. In Italia sono stati pubblicati però solo tre libri: Il Taumaturgo (S&K), Il Prete (Fanucci) e quest'ultimo La Strega (Fanucci) tutti di difficile reperibilità in italiano.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    I was really excited for this book because it was about something that was finally not school related, but I would've been better off with another book. The Sub is semi interesting once you're about a quarter way through the book I'll give it that, but it just seems rushed and loose ends were tied up sloppily. It over all just left me unsatisfied. Also the subtitle is: "A Study on Witchcraft" which would lead you to believe it'd have more fantastical elements or something like that but the ~witc I was really excited for this book because it was about something that was finally not school related, but I would've been better off with another book. The Sub is semi interesting once you're about a quarter way through the book I'll give it that, but it just seems rushed and loose ends were tied up sloppily. It over all just left me unsatisfied. Also the subtitle is: "A Study on Witchcraft" which would lead you to believe it'd have more fantastical elements or something like that but the ~witch~ and her magic is almost a side plot? and she doesn't know what she's doing, she plainly says it several times. The summary was better than the book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Rigg

    I really enjoy Disch as an author and should go back and re-read some of these.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Wesley Young

    It's not a perfect book. The ending does not work as well as the slow set up the author takes but it is an enjoyable tale of a woman becoming a serial killer with magical powers.

  14. 4 out of 5

    J Shaskan

    It has its moments, but ultimately it outstays its welcome by at least a hundred pages. It's too long for what it is. And the story felt disjointed, as if several crucial chapters were missing. How exactly did Diana realize she was a witch? Was it just because she accidentally changed Tommy W. into a deer by accidentally calling him "dear"? That seems pretty silly. Was it somehow because of her father's spirit? It's unclear, and when I was about halfway through, I just stopped caring.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Snowfalcon

    An interesting drama spiced with witchcraft set in rural Minnesota.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Oren

  17. 4 out of 5

    Creola

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alberteinsteinmaloney

  19. 4 out of 5

    Peam

  20. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Kinsella

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jack Loh

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Ruby

  23. 5 out of 5

    Barry Hill

  24. 4 out of 5

    Olivia Wise

  25. 5 out of 5

    Warren

  26. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

  27. 5 out of 5

    Scotty

  28. 5 out of 5

    Terry

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ryn McAtee

  30. 5 out of 5

    grammarchick

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