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The Apartment

3.06  ·  Rating Details ·  1,573 Ratings  ·  300 Reviews
One snowy December morning in an old European city, an American man leaves his shabby hotel to meet a local woman who has agreed to help him search for an apartment to rent. THE APARTMENT follows the couple across a blurry, illogical, and frozen city into a past the man is hoping to forget, and leaves them at the doorstep of an uncertain future—their cityscape punctuated ...more
Hardcover, 193 pages
Published December 3rd 2013 by Twelve (first published January 1st 2012)
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JDK1962 The rating right now is right around 3, which is what I gave it (maybe I should have given it a 2...I was somewhere in between "OK" and "Like").…moreThe rating right now is right around 3, which is what I gave it (maybe I should have given it a 2...I was somewhere in between "OK" and "Like"). Baxter writes well, but there's no plot, no conflict and my recollection was no character development. Just a dark, moody, atmospheric day in the life of someone with terminal ennui. (less)
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Community Reviews

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Ben Dutton
Sep 25, 2012 Ben Dutton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So I was wandering the aisles of my local bookstore the other day. I wasn’t particularly looking to buy anything, but killing time while it rained outside, and with nothing else to do. It was one of those days. You know the type. That was when I picked Greg Baxter’s novel off the shelf, where it was sandwiched in between two other novels. One of the rules is never judge a book by its cover – but I did just that. Penguin have designed a lovely cover for The Apartment. With cover quotes from ...more
An unnamed American searches for an apartment to rent in an unnamed European city, accompanied by a female friend, Saskia, and musing along the way on his time in the Navy and subsequent work in Iraq. He is seeking to forget the past and to start a new life. The relationship between the American and Saskia is platonic but could develop into a romance/affair.

And that is the extent of the plot. In some novels and for some readers, an uneventful story might be a gentle and welcome relief, but the f
Dec 17, 2013 Kenneth rated it it was amazing
It's a stream of consciousness narrative so you obviously need to appreciate that device in order to enjoy the novel. Now, if you do, you are in for a treat. I like it very much indeed, so it works well for me but I also like it because it's unapologetically ambitious. Occasionally it maybe tries to be too many things; there are one or two anecdotes that aren't entirely successful, but, on balance, it's a triumph. Though the narrative moves slowly it also feels unstoppable and I read it in one ...more
Aug 08, 2016 Holly rated it it was amazing
This novel's events take place over a single day, albeit with flashbacks and daydreams that mitigate the limits of present tense. For me, echoes of Joyce's Ulysses (and the tone of The Dead), Ishiguro's The Unconsoled (without the hypnagogia), Teju Cole's Open City (a foreign-born walker in a city), Mrs. Dalloway (if only in the sense of foreboding) ...

.... and Billy Lynn's Long Half-Time Walk - except it's a sort of an anti-Billy Lynn, a refutation and near polar opposite. Have any other critic
Aug 09, 2016 Abby rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
"The Apartment" is a short novel with little plot and is as compelling as anything I've read in a long while. It begs to be read straight through. The precision of the prose and the structure, without a single break and with paragraphs that go on, make it hard to put down.

An unnamed American, forty-one years old, has come to an unnamed European city for unexplained reasons and has been living in a tiny, shabby hotel room. He has wandered the streets of the city for six weeks and had casual inte
Denise Gianelli
Apr 28, 2015 Denise Gianelli rated it liked it
Greg Baxter's The Apartment has no chapters, one voice, ( a 41 year old American navy veteran) and takes place over a day around Christmas somewhere in Europe. The unnamed protagonist is looking for an apartment with a woman who he has recently met. He reflects on his war experience, family and friends.
I recommend this short novel for a one-day read, on a cold spring day. Baxter's prose in this book is good. It has such a relaxed and comfortable pace. As you walk through one day in the protagoni
Barbara Bodem
May 11, 2012 Barbara Bodem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read a lot. As a result, I really value a book that is original and that captures my attention and imagination - one that makes me actively read each word. I really enjoyed The Apartment. Its true that there was little in the way of a traditional plot, but I enjoyed spending the day with the narrator and Saskia. I found myself daydreaming about solitude and the ability to start again. I can't speak to its technical execution as some other reviewers have, but I can say that it was an enjoyable ...more
May 18, 2015 Jafar rated it it was ok
God save me from pointless and pretentious stream of consciousness!
Ron Charles
Dec 25, 2013 Ron Charles rated it liked it
For thousands of years, reaching all the way back to Homer, people have told about war by telling stories about war. But in 1918, even as Europe was still smoldering, Rebecca West published her first novel, “Return of the Soldier,” about a shell-shocked vet suffering from amnesia. It was a new kind of story for a new kind of carnage. A few years later, Septimus jumped to his death in Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway.” And in 1926, Hemingway wrote his finest book, “The Sun Also Rises,” a war novel ...more
Dec 03, 2011 Peggy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to Penguin Canada for supplying me with a review copy of The Apartment.

Before I start, I should probably put things in some kind of perspective.

I first read Dostoevsky at age 12. I am a voracious, omnivorous reader. I have probably read every genre available. I am more than willing to give any book a chance.

So when I say I had a lot of difficulty with this book, it means I had real issues.

My 3 star rating reflects a great deal of ambivalence about Greg Baxter's choice of format. I reall
kathryn w
Dec 18, 2013 kathryn w rated it it was amazing
This is about a guy who moves to a city in Europe after being a soldier and then a contractor in Iraq. The book covers one cold snowy day while he is looking for an apartment with a friend so he can move from the shabby hotel room he is living in now. The story of his life in the US and Iraq just creeps in while he is thinking during a bus ride or talking to someone.
I took this book home from the library thinking I would finish it in 2 days since it is short but I had to stay up until I did fini
Jul 07, 2013 Hannah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
On the plus, quick read. Interesting style, just a jumble of stream of consciousness narration. Good sense of place (in that you don't know exactly what/where/who) and nice descriptive style.

But what I struggle with is this sort of pointless floating throughout the book is only 'worth' something if it has an 'aha moment' ending. This didn't so I felt deflated. Maybe there's some depth but it's obviously not within my powers to find it!
Dec 04, 2013 Mandy rated it really liked it
There’s not a lot of plot in this first novel from Greg Baxter. An unnamed American wanders through an unnamed European city, with a local woman, Saskia, looking for an apartment to rent. We follow them on their journeys across the snowy and freezing city, as they catch buses, go shopping, visit cafés and restaurants, meet other people. And that’s about it. But this deceptively simple story hides a complex and often disturbing story of one man’s past and his quest for a new beginning. We ...more
Apr 02, 2014 Gerhard rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
The problem with writing about disaffected people is that it is difficult to win over the reader’s sympathy or trust for your characters. I can understand that the author is trying to make a statement about the disconnected nature of modern society, and the level of sociopathy we all invariably have to engage in, to some degree, in order to be able to function as a proper corporate citizen. But this does not render it palatable or even accessible.

Greg Baxter’s fairly short novel is imitation str
May 03, 2013 Kristy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up on a whim (sometimes my best book choices are made that way), and I am very pleased that I did. It pushed my reading boundaries - in that you don't get to know the narrator's name, and there are no chapters. For a reader such as me that likes to know things, to pin things down, to have some sort of order, it was freeing to have these goals at least, removed. The present day action in the novel takes place within a very short space of time, yet we are taken on a journey into ...more
Robert Cohen
Jan 23, 2014 Robert Cohen rated it really liked it
Smart, captivating, mysterious, disturbing, atmospheric. An unnamed man in an unnamed city in Eastern Europe (Prague?) accompanies his friend Saskia to find an apartment for himself so he can move out of the hotel that he is living in. That’s it. That’s the plot. But embedded in that plot are dozens of memory flashbacks by the protagonist, suggesting that all is not as it seems. The format is stream of consciousness, long, long paragraphs, almost one continuous run-on sentence with no chapter ...more
Baxter has mastered a beautiful minimalist style that reminded me variously of Hemingway, Raymond Carver, and Haruki Murakami. What this novel lacks is the emotional resonance of those authors' best works. The detailed descriptions of a single day spent wandering an imaginary city (probably in Central or Eastern Europe) looking for an apartment are almost hypnotic. This present-day narrative is interwoven with flashbacks to the unnamed narrator's previous wanderings around the fictional city and ...more
Beth Bonini
Dec 30, 2014 Beth Bonini rated it really liked it
This was one of my Christmas presents -- and I started it on the plane ride back to London from Houston.
I had a reading experience that was oddly compatible with the plotting of the book . . . as the book takes place over the course of one very long winter's day (with flashbacks), and I read it that way as well. The book is all about dislocation, and being an observer displaced both in the world and from oneself -- so, a perfect travelling book.

The narrator (male, American, 41) is in an unnamed
Katy Derbyshire
I was very impressed indeed by this novel, a much less macho work than Baxter's first book (which I also enjoyed). An American is looking for an apartment in a cold European city with a woman he hardly knows, an innocuous enough situation. Contrasting wintery Europe with the heat of two different deserts, Baxter plays with our expectations, injecting one tiny shock after another until we're left with a vision of horror.

At times I found myself grimacing at all the unexpected tension, at others I
Feb 28, 2012 Paige rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stream-of-consciousness, not very fast-paced, lots of flashbacks and introspection. I say all of those things as compliments towards this book, but also as a bit of a warning for anyone who isn't inclined towards a meandering narrative in which little actually "happens."

The book teetered on the brink of some lovely "Aha" moments, but I didn't ever feel it actually tipped over into the realm of deeper ideas it could have. Baxter does do a fantastic job of conveying the atmosphere and feeling of
Michael Jensen
Feb 16, 2014 Michael Jensen rated it did not like it
Looking for a pretentious piece of crap? The Apartment is your book. Must be easy to write something that has no plot and no real point. Also very easy for people to project what they want to see onto the non-existent plot. Want an interesting literary novel about the events that happen to a person in one day? Stick with The Hours by Michael Cunningham.
Larry Hoffer
Dec 28, 2013 Larry Hoffer rated it really liked it
I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

Greg Baxter's debut novel, The Apartment, is a terrifically written, somewhat meandering book that both is and is not about what you think it is.

In an unnamed European city (although some reviewers have guessed this is Prague, Baxter said the novel's setting is an amalgamation of several different cities), an unnamed American narrator is planning to meet his friend, Saskia, to find him an apartment, as he had been living austerely in a formerly elegant hotel since he arri
Alex South
Sep 10, 2014 Alex South rated it it was amazing
A lot of people are saying that the main character may have PTSD.

I disagree. When the guy talks about his army life, we learn that he didn't see a lot of frontline action, or at least he doesn't mention it. Instead, he talks about watching things happen on a screen (some sort of command centre) also he mentions working on sub. Maybe I'm ignorant and working on a sub is more stressful, and potentially horrific than I realise, but my uninformed reader's opinion tells me that the PTSD angle doesn't
David Hebblethwaite
The narrator of Greg Baxter’s first novel is an unidentified American living in the capital of an unidentified European country, on his way to view an apartment, accompanied by Saskia, a young woman he has befriended whilst in the city. There’s also a sense in which he’s trying to leave the past behind, and searching for something deeper than a place to live – stability, perhaps; or the chance to control his own world, even if that amounts to little more than being able to fade into the ...more
Chris McNevins
Aug 30, 2014 Chris McNevins rated it really liked it
Reading this book reminded me of the sitcom "Seinfeld"--on the surface it's a book about nothing. The story centers around the day in a life of one man--an unnamed American--who is trying to eradicate his past. He moves to an unnamed European city and befriends a young woman, Saskia, who offers to help him find an apartment. The story is gray, cold and depressing much like its geographical setting. On a deeper level, the book is a treatise on the travesty of war, the consequence of personal ...more
Rashmi Tiwari
Jun 04, 2014 Rashmi Tiwari rated it it was ok
I feel torn about this book because I really liked the premise but was underwhelmed (bordering on irritated) at the end. This book is a journey into vagueland where we meet an ex-Navy/ex-contractor-in-Irag who has left life in some "desert" in the US (Texas? Arizona? You tell me.) for an unnamed city in Europe that is frigid and filled with old buildings (Brussels? Prague? Berlin? Again, you tell me.) where we spend one day with him as he looks for an apartment with a local girl (his girlfriend? ...more
Melissa C
Jul 13, 2014 Melissa C rated it liked it

The Apartment is about a guy looking for an apartment in an unnamed European city over the course of one day. Not much happens in this story. It is told in a first person narrative and it's written without any chapter breaks. Between lots of details about the frigid cold, the gray streets and the transit, we learn bits and pieces about our narrator; he was a soldier in Iraq, he was knowledgeable about classical music, architecture, art and more, he was a contractor in The Middle East where he ma
Jun 11, 2015 Evelyn rated it liked it
Actually a 3.5.

The plot is deceptively simple. An expat American, recently arrived in an unnamed European capital in the dead of winter, sets out to find an apartment, during a snowstorm, with the help of a much younger local woman he only recently met but who has agreed to act as his guide and translator. As the two walk through the frozen city, the bulk of the novel plays out inside the American's head.

We learn why he's landed in this amalgam of Berlin/Prague/Budapest, what he's fleeing from b
Jul 20, 2014 Catherine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, audiobook
This is the second time I can remember finishing a one-star book. Both times it was because I thought the author must be going somewhere with the story. Both times I was mistaken. There is no real plot to this book, and very little characterization. An ex-pat American (no name) has moved to some Eastern European city (no name) and decides to move from a hotel to an apartment. He looks at one and takes it. End of story.

I didn't really like the protagonist, though I don't feel I really got to know
Chris Ross
Feb 20, 2015 Chris Ross rated it did not like it
Shelves: war-in-iraq, novels
I listened to the audio book. From the beginning this book was disappointing and awful! This is why people burn books in Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451, because they are awful and should be burned.

This book is about a retired Navy submariner who goes on to do intelligence contract work for the Army and Marines in Iraq, makes a ton of money and then retires in a foreign city. The city is not named though sounds like it could be a city in Germany. Oh yeah he is trying to find an apartment in this ci
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“Saskia’s bedroom is messy and cramped, but in an eccentric, smart way. Books are stacked all over the floor, but her bookshelf is empty, suggesting that she is the kind of person who reads seventy-five books at once.” 6 likes
“Everything human beings can imagine has been thrown at injustice, and injustice just absorbs it, and enlarges.” 5 likes
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