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Banana Rose: A Novel
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Banana Rose: A Novel

3.43  ·  Rating Details ·  499 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
A young woman journeys from New Mexico to the Midwest, trying to make sense of her life as an artist and how it meshes with her family, faith, and inner self
Nell Schwartz is a Brooklyn-born Jewish girl who reinvents herself in the communes of Taos, renaming herself Banana Rose—because she’s “bananas.” But Nell struggles with her inner fears and desires, the demands of the
ebook, 376 pages
Published July 26th 2011 by Open Road Media (first published 1995)
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Aug 17, 2007 Dawn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: forfun
loved natalie's detailed writing, the setting (read after i first arrived in colorado, and the scenery wasn't so foreign) and the characters/plot. a really enjoyable, beautiful read (2004/05?) (5 *'s)
Byrd Alyssa
Aug 23, 2007 Byrd Alyssa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hippies, aesthetics and aspiring monks
Shelves: own, fiction
Natalie Goldberg's books on writing are among my favorites, so perhaps my sights were set too high on Banana Rose. It is with guilt that I give this 3 stars. So much of the story is still vivid in my mind, the images linger...yet, for some reason I was let down when I read it.
Sep 22, 2007 Mycala rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would really have preferred to give this two and a half stars, but that option isn't available. I adore Natalie's books on writing -- Wild Mind and Writing Down the Bones are staples on my shelf -- and her writing is vivid and wonderful. But she mentions writing this book in Wild Mind, I think it is, and a friend points out to her that the book has no plot. It's really loosely based on her own life, and I guess I would have had a better opinion of it had I gone into reading it that way rather ...more
Feb 04, 2008 Cdrueallen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd listened to Natalie Goldberg's audio CD on Zen and writing and enjoyed it, so when I saw Banana Rose in the used bookstore, I couldn't resist. Would her fiction live up to her writing instruction? It did. An enjoyable look at the wild hippy life of a New York Jewish girl. The writing is fresh and vital, transporting you to the world of Banana Rose and her lover/husband Gaugin. If I had a complaint, it would be that Banana remains painfully naive and without a trace of the political theory th ...more
Mar 05, 2008 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The concept of someone travelling across country, kinda-hippy like didnt appeal to me at first but it was a well-told story, great narration
May 03, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book. I read it in two days. The imagery and the feelings are so real.
Alison Perry
May 23, 2008 Alison Perry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first Natalie Goldberg I ever read and I totally fell in love with it. The book follows Bananna Rose as she deals with love, friendship and life after the hippie-era in Taos, NM. It's pretty artsy and a lot dirty hippie. I love it.
Jun 26, 2008 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really like writing down the bones, but Banana Rose just left me cold. The old expression, "those who can't do, teach" comes to mind...
Jul 03, 2008 Lisa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Truly abysmal; I was embarrassed for Goldberg. Notice she's never published another presumes I was not the only one who hated it.
Jul 21, 2008 Lydiaohlydia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I love Natalie's books on writing. I wanted to see how the woman who motivates the world to write actually writes.

I liked the way she writes, but the story was kinda boring. It was her first novel. Perhaps I'll try a newer one?
Jul 19, 2008 Rebecca rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I just finished reading Banana Rose by Natalie Goldberg for one of my book clubs. I honestly cannot recommend this book. The book has a good premise (hippie girl tries to find herself and becomes a real artist in New Mexico) but the author does a terrible job fleshing out the characters. They are not believable and the dialouge rings false. The dialouge feels very contrived and artificial.
Almost every chapter (sometimes every paragraph) had a sentance that just made me say "Ugh!" For example,
Oct 21, 2008 Hope rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Like Anne Lamott, I like Natalie Goldberg's autobiographical works much better than her fiction.
Nov 02, 2008 Bob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I look at the West with romantic eyes, and that probably helped me overlook the shortcomings of this novel. I identified heavily with the main character. The best moment for me was near the end, when she crosses back into New Mexico after a long time away.
Like, I suspect, most people who read this book, I picked it up out of a love for Goldberg's books on writing, most notably Writing Down the Bones. In those books she emphasizes freewriting and original detail far more than standard stuff like plot, character, and revision, and it is quite evident in this debut novel. Nell is a hippie living near Taos, New Mexico; this is the story of her journey to becoming an artist. The language is vibrant and the metaphors unforgettable, but the story and di ...more
Mar 17, 2009 Alohadudenyc rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ok... will this book change your life? maybe... maybe not...

will it be a great read? absolutely! natalie goldber's semi-autobiographical novel is a book that i've read many, many times. i love her.
I'm a big fan of Natalie Goldberg's writing books. I even had the pleasure to study with her last fall. I enjoyed this book, but there were just some things about the main character that bothered me. I can't exactly say what. It was worth it to me, though, especially since I had the chance to meet the author.
Ruby Hollyberry
Sep 11, 2010 Ruby Hollyberry rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, not-owned
Like another author who writes very very well when she writes about herself and about writing (Anne Lamott), Natalie Goldberg sucks at fiction. I love Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within and Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life with an unquenchable passion, just as I love Lamott's Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, and Grace Eventu ...more
Apr 14, 2010 Philippa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010
I was very excited to read this book, as I count Writing Down The Bones as one of my all time favourite books and was intrigued to read some of Goldberg's fiction, to see how she puts all those gems of writing inspiration into practice.

It's an interesting story she tells here - and I have visited New Mexico and adored it, and found the descriptions of the landscape in the novel very authentic and evocative. I found Nell/Banana Rose a bit irritating as a character though - her naivety was sometim
Dec 03, 2010 Cherie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A- I wanted to LOVE this like I've adored her nonfiction books, but I got irritated at the crazy narrator at time, at the implausibility of it all. Still, good read, really interesting. Realistic portrayal of how love can die. Also, I really enjoyed how she represented the deep love the narrator has for New Mexico...connecting to a place is something not everyone does.
Feb 14, 2011 Renee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm still digesting this. It certainly held my attention and the author has good technical style. But the story was a bit unconnected. It was also a bit ... cliche. Well, the characters (who were difficult to really buy and their relationships with each other even less so) were cliche. It was interesting, though, and worth reading.
Apr 23, 2011 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the kind of book you read in social work school, and write a paper to psychoanalyze the main character, Banana Rose. These days I think about affect regulation. Banana Rose, was an interesting character. I could see that her relationship was doomed, somehow, but not the way it ended. I think her true love was Taos. I liked her sexual poety. I liked her Jewishness and her experimental attitude towards life. Goldberg's writing was clear and smooth, gave you a sense of place from Boulder, N ...more
Tracy Walters
At first I didn't think I would like this book but I decided to give it a try and I ended up enjoying it. A book about being a hippie and then trading that lifestyle for becoming a regular everyday person and realizing that you really don't like being a regular person.....I don't think I could live as a hippie....I could probably intigrate some of their ways into my lifestyle....I like electricity and running water too much to give it up....there are some sad things that happen along the way and ...more
Sep 12, 2012 Mollyeswaidan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pam Bustin
Jul 09, 2014 Pam Bustin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminist-reads
Another to add to my Weeping Goodness shelf.
This one hold the light.
Thanks Natalie Goldberg for bringing us this story.

I see by the reviews that this one really divides people - they love or hate it.
I love it.

Recommended to ....
Anyone who has loved deeply and lived through it
Anyone who has lost a friend
Anyone who has been to New Mexico and ... Yearns to return.

Go easy ~p

Suanne Laqueur
Apr 14, 2016 Suanne Laqueur rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-five-stars
I took this out from the library, but I will probably end up buying a copy for myself. I know I will want to read it again, re-visit Taos, New Mexico and these wonderful characters. It’s a big, grilled-cheese sandwich of a book—filled with descriptions of breathtaking scenery, food, life in a small New Mexican town, and deep emotions. I loved Banana Rose. I loved her passion, her struggling, her resiliancy, how she screwed up and hit rock bottom but kept on plugging along, kept on trying, and in ...more
Dec 17, 2014 Kendra rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Goldberg's books on writing have been a guiding force in my own writing for a few decades. It's funny to see her tips so clearly spelled out in her novel, Banana Rose. Unfortunately the novel suffers a dearth of emotional connection underneath the frequent, specific description and the main character's spontaneity.
I really wanted to like this book more. I liked the character, though she felt at a remove. The book is about a romantic relationship and a friendship, and it struck me that only the f
Carla Stafford
I enjoyed the description in this book-it seemed appropriate to me that a painter/hippie would describe her emotions using color descriptions and nature metaphors. I think I struggled with the straightforward simplistic nature of Banana Rose's character. This may be consistent with her hippie ideals-but her ability to easily accept monumental events in her life...or at least to describe heart wrenching experiences in a passive voice-was difficult for me to relate to on a personal level. Portions ...more
Jul 26, 2016 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite the mixed reviews, I enjoyed this book. Some people say that they felt that the main character was far removed - I saw her as more pragmatic and accepting of life. It painted a nice picture of life in New Mexico for a free spirit.
Geoff Young
Two of my favorite nonfiction writers are Anne Lamott and Natalie Goldberg. Their voices are conversational, engaging, and unique. When reading their essays, I often feel like I'm listening to a familiar friend full of charm and insight. They inspire me.

Unfortunately their attempts at fiction do not have a similar effect. Goldberg's Banana Rose suffers from a first-person narrator that comes off as self-absorbed and shallow, often providing irrelevant details that manage to make both food and se
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Natalie Goldberg lived in Brooklyn until she was six, when her family moved out to Farmingdale, Long Island, where her father owned the bar the Aero Tavern. From a young age, Goldberg was mad for books and reading, and especially loved Carson McCullers's The Ballad of the Sad Cafe , which she read in ninth grade. She thinks that single book led her eventually to put pen to paper when she was twe ...more
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