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Peace

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  892 ratings  ·  95 reviews
Originally published in 1975, Peace is a spellbinding, brilliant tour de force of the imagination. The melancholy memoir of Alden Dennis Weer, an embittered old man living out his last days in a small midwestern town, the novel reveals a miraculous dimension as the narrative unfolds. For Weer’s imagination has the power to obliterate time and reshape reality, transcending...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published June 15th 1995 by Orb Books (first published 1975)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,265)
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Szplug
Read for the second time during (and second favourite read of) this past summer. While he's not flashy, I find Wolfe to be a writer of considerably beautiful form and grace and pace, and this, one of his very first novels, displays that form to masterful effect. I originally read this in the mid-nineties, and partook of it for a second time this past August, when the endless sunshine and sultry heat seemed appropriate companions for the beguiling way in which Wolfe works his memes of mnemonic tr...more
Greg Bates
Congratulations on your purchase/borrowing/piracy of "Peace" by Gene Wolfe! We who have come before you hope you will be very, very satisfied with your purchase, and will come back to it for years to come! Before you enjoy your copy for the first (or second) time, here are some helpful tips:


1. Persevere through the first chapter. Although the first few pages of Peace are some of the best in the novel, there's a scene that takes place in a garden near the beginning of the book that can be a doozy...more
Stephen Case
This is one of my favorite books. I still don’t completely understand this book. With Gene Wolfe this is not a problem (at least with his earlier works—for me, the jury is still out on some of his latest novels). His books are layered, and they always repay the slow, careful re-read. I’ve gone through this one at least three times now, and each time I pick up something new. Wolfe remains my favorite author, and Peace I think is an excellent introduction to his work, especially if you’re not comi...more
Joseph
Alden Dennis Weir loses his knife and goes looking through his house for it. And sort of gets lost in some of the best prose of the late twentieth century. Everybody should read this book.
Simon
This is going to be one of those books that are exceedingly difficult to review and there's a danger that this could turn into a bit of a ramble. How do I even classify this book? It is alledgedly fantasy but if it is, it is only in the loosest possible sense of the word. This doesn't have much in common with any other works of fantasy I've ever read (except Wolfe's other works of fantasy such as The Book of the new Sun).

This is about a old man called Weer who is pondering, reliving or perhaps e...more
Darran Mclaughlin
Absolutely extraordinary. It amazes me that Gene Wolfe isn't better appreciated when is is so obviously one of the greatest writers of the last 50 years. He is head and shoulders above most of the critically acclaimed writers who are always reviewed and discussed in the literary section of the broadsheet newspapers and high-brow magazines. This book is published as part of the Fantasy Masterworks series, although whether this book is fantasy or not is up for debate. It is such an original work o...more
Aaron Jansen
So Neil Gaiman wasn't lying, Gene Wolfe really can write. (Better than Neil Gaiman, in fact!) I was about ready to give up on him after losing interest halfway through his Long Sun books, and then losing interest halfway through his New Sun books, when I read the opening pages of this novel in an Amazon preview and was immediately drawn in. I decided to give him another chance.

Here is evidence that Gene Wolfe actually deserves a degree of the praise heaped upon him:

"And as if by magic—and it may...more
Jay
Subtle subtle subtle.

Some images I'll never shake out of my head.

This is the sort of book where...

You read a chapter,

you're like Huh interesting,

you go to bed,

then you sit bolt upright in bed and go No way!! He didn't! Did he???

But he did.
Chris Palmer
Amazing book. I've read it three times in less than two months and I still haven't figured it all out yet, but I'm having a lot of fun searching.

I talked to Gene Wolfe last year and one of the things I asked him was whether he ever left anything deliberately ambiguous in his books or anything that was left to subjective speculation. He said that he always knew exactly what the "true" story was behind his books and stories, even if his narrators didn't or even if they chose to leave parts out.

Wit...more
Christopher
Gene Wolfe's 1975 novel Peace seems to be the scattered recollections of Alden Dennis Weer, an old man who has lived all his life in a a small Midwestern town. But as the novel unfolds, we feel that he's not being entirely honest with us. Furthermore, in a fantastical twist, the old man sometimes seems to take an active role in the history that he reminisces on.

Peace was originally published by Harper & Row in an utterly anonymous plain tan dustcover and went unnoticed by most of the reading...more
Chris Hawks
Peace is the memoir of Alden Dennis Weer, chronicling his life growing up in the town of Cassionsville. It's a rambling narrative prone to go off on tangents, where one story can and will invoke another, entirely seperate memory—transitioning into it without warning—and so the text jumps back forth in time, blurring the boundaries between one passage and the next. But Gene Wolfe is such a great writer that, after a few pages to get acclimated to these shifts, not only does it become easy to foll...more
Sandy
Although virtually unclassifiable, Gene Wolfe's 1975 novel, "Peace," was chosen for inclusion in both David Pringle's "Modern Fantasy: The Hundred Best Novels" AND Jones & Newman's "Horror: Another 100 Best Books." While the novel certainly does have shadings of both the horrific and the fantastic, it will most likely strike the casual reader--on the surface, at least--as more of an autobiography, telling, as it does, the story of Alden Dennis Weer, in the first person. Weer, a 60-something...more
Zach
For better or worse, Peace is a book that demands a re-reading. It starts off innocently enough, seeming to be a straight memoir of the aging, stroke-saddled Alden Dennis Weer. But as you read, certain things start to dawn on you, and by the end you're left with the urge to pick back through Weer's narratives to piece together the loose strands of the stories. I could only sustain re-reading for a few vital details before moving on to the next book, but even that brief return was worthwhile.

The...more
Joe
Mar 25, 2008 Joe rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people that liked Big Fish
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dennis
Now that I've given Peace five stars, I wish I could go back and take one star away from all my other books. This book stands up above all the others by a mile and a half. Insanely beautiful sense of place and time, while transcending everything to offer a deeper, subtler existence. I felt stupider after reading this book--but not for the reasons you probably think. It isn't like some fiction which dumbs you down with its own dumbed-down language--this book challenges the reader to rise to its l...more
Tea & Strumpets
On the surface this is one of the most lyrical and believable artifacts of literary Americana I have ever encountered. But beneath the visceral and captivating portrait of Midwestern America there is an enormous complexity: an elderly narrator who, having suffered a stroke, has trouble placing himself in time; now he is a man in his thirties, broke and falling in love; now he is eight years old, driving in his first motorcar; now he sits before the fire, old and wealthy and utterly alone. And to...more
Stacy
I suspect there's a lot I didn't understand about this novel, though reading-wise, it was a fine read. On its surface, it's the journal of an elderly man and his time with his aunt. But the narrator is totally unreliable and I got the sense there was a lot of bad stuff underneath his surface. Yet I couldn't see it - at least, not until I was more than 3/4 of the way through the story (though the ghost story in the middle creeped me out). I'll probably take another crack at this one soon, just to...more
Jay McNair
This isn't quite my "kind" of book—I don't think it is. It's hard to say for sure, which impresses me. I wasn't smart enough to figure out everything that went on, but then I enjoy not quite knowing, not understanding what the house is that he lives in that has so many rooms, or why he's telling you these stories, some of which are just pure story-within-a-story. But there was definitely something going on. Once the book's over and you've started to digest it, maybe the first lines will mean mor...more
Diogo
Feb 01, 2008 Diogo rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Recommended to anyone who is willing to look at what's not written in a novel as well as what is.
This novel is as interesting and multi-layered as any Gene Wolfe novel, and its setting in a small town in the American Mid-West is used enticingly to create a novel that can be read as a mellow, melancholy midwestern tale or as a truly spine-tingling horror novel about damnation (which sounds like a rather corny description, I know). Either way, it is first class Wolfe and it explores with skill some of his most common themes (memory/imagination, perception/creation, storytelling, identity, etc...more
Lupercal
Mine is the edition with the crow on the tree, and Neil Gaiman saying it is one of the 'tiny handful of modern novels of which I'm in awe', and an afterword by same, suggesting that you need to read it several times to get it (after all, he's a genius and it took him about twelve years and a dream). Above all, he says, don't trust Wolfe's narrator(s).

This was the sixth Wolfe novel I read (seventh if 'American Nights' counts) and my initial impressions were that the style and form were wanting: e...more
Laura
I made it to page 16. I cannot understand why this book is so highly rated?! Non-stop run-on sentences interrupted by further side thoughts in parentheses. Not just a little bit, but all of it!

The narrator seems to have the need to share every damn convolution of his thoughts as if they mattered in the least. By the time I get to the end of a sentence (which can take up more than half a page), I can't fathom what he originally began talking about at the beginning.

It is reading as complete nonse...more
Kate Sherrod
SIX STARS. MAYBE SEVEN.

That this is the first novel I ever read twice in a row should tell you everything. Well, this is Gene Wolfe, so not everything, but lots. Full reaction over at my blog.
Steve
A poignant work from science fiction author Gene Wolfe. The writing is exquisite and the story is very touching. It's been years since I read this and I hope to do so again soon. Recommended.
Angelica
Lovely use of language, creative writing -- just way too long. The plot and writing would have made a great short story, even a novella. Bottom line: about 150 pages too long.
Diane
What to say about this one? It’s mysterious, dark, and a little depressing.

The narrator, Alden Dennis Weer, is dead, and probably long dead. Or maybe just dying and dreaming he is long dead - it’s hard to say precisely. Anyway, in this book Weer tells us, very obliquely, the story of his life. In telling his story, Weer does not follow a single straight storyline. Instead he weaves back and forth, flying over and circling back on key events, embedding stories within stories, dropping hints here...more
Bbrown
Gene Wolfe is my favorite living author thanks to the brilliant Book of the New Sun and Book of the Short Sun (Long Sun was very good as well, just not quite on the level of the other two), and so I go into each of his books with raised expectations. Peace met them, and then some. While I'd name The Fifth Head of Cerberus as the best place to start with Wolfe, this might be a good place to start for those who don't love science fiction. Here the setting is more tethered to reality, although not...more
Ed
Although it is not nearly as well known as some of Gene Wolfe's other works, this is one of his very best standalone novels. The narrative appears to be a memoir of sorts of a man who has lived his entire life in a small town in 20th century Ohio, but what's really going on is eventually revealed to the careful reader. In this novel Wolfe ambitiously aspires to nothing less than the best writing by Joyce, Proust, and Nabokov, and I think he succeeds magnificently. The prose is so beautifully wri...more
Simon Mcleish
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Damian Dubois
On the surface 'Peace' comes across as a story about memories, and in this particular case, Alden Dennis Weer's, an elderly man and victim of a stroke. The memories slide back and forth through Weer's life, from the time he was a young lad and looked after by his Aunt Olivia to his being the president of an orange drink producing corporation and comes across as a man reflecting on the meandering path life has taken him on.

But underneath the surface detail, things don't seem to be as straightfor...more
Kate
If you've never read a Gene Wolfe novel, this is not the place to start.

I'm not sure how to even describe Peace. I'm not sure I even know what it was about. I don't even know, really, what or where Alden Weer is in this book. He seems to be wandering through a mansion where every door opens into his memories. It's a beautiful metaphor, but not very accessible for those who have never been in such a mansion before. There are a whole lot of things that are never explained.

If an author leads you th...more
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Gene Wolfe is an American science fiction and fantasy writer. He is noted for his dense, allusive prose as well as the strong influence of his Catholic faith, to which he converted after marrying a Catholic. He is a prolific short story writer and a novelist, and has won many awards in the field.

The Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award is given by SFWA for ‘lifetime achievement in science fict...more
More about Gene Wolfe...
The Shadow of the Torturer (The Book of the New Sun #1) Shadow & Claw (The Book of the New Sun #1-2) Sword and Citadel (The Book of the New Sun, #3-4) The Claw of the Conciliator (The Book of the New Sun #2) The Sword of the Lictor (The Book of the New Sun #3)

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“It may be that the only reason childhood memories act on us so strongly is that, being the most remote we possess, they are the worst remembered and so offer the least resistance to that process by which we mold them nearer and nearer to an ideal which is fundamentally artistic, or at least nonfactual.” 7 likes
“We talk of strong personalities, and they are strong, until the not-every-day when we see them as we might see one woman alone in a desert, and know that all the strength we thought we knew was only courage, only her lone song echoing among the stones; and then at last when we have understood this and made up our minds to hear the song and admire its courage and its sweetness, we wait for the next note and it does not come. The last word, with its pure tone, echoes and fades and is gone, and we realize—only then—that we do not know what it was, that we have been too intent on the melody to hear even one word. We go then to find the singer, thinking she will be standing where we last saw her. There are only bones and sand and a few faded rags.” 3 likes
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