Rowing Lesson
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Rowing Lesson

3.05 of 5 stars 3.05  ·  rating details  ·  40 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Winner of the South African M-Net Literary Prize (English category).

“Anne Landsman’s glittering, shimmering new novel is a tour de force. . . . Elation and pain, anxiety and exuberance, and the uneven beat of living are all caught in language as silky and fluid as music.”—Roxana Robinson

“Like Joyce or William Gass or John Edgar Wideman, Anne Landsman fashions a sensual w...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published November 1st 2007 by Soho Press (first published January 1st 2007)
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Kinga
That was the poor man's version of "Death of Artemio Cruz". And I didn't even like "Death of Artemio Cruz" that much but this was just probably one of the worst books I have ever read.

One of the advance reviews says: "Landsman is one of the few writers of our generation to have wrested from the English language a voice uniquely and searing her own". True, the voice is so unique that Landsman is probably the only person that can actually understand this mess of a narrative.

I am not a big fan of s...more
Hazel McHaffie
I bought this because a review hyped it and because it's about a woman sitting beside her dying father (my kind of subject matter!). The writing is beautiful in places and it's most unusual but I can't say I enjoyed it. It was hard work sorting out which era we were in and the absence of apostrophes around proper speech and the strange use of capitals added to the confusion. It's probably a literary masterpiece but it wasn't for me.
Nicola
I was drawn to this book for two fairly superficial reasons- its title involved rowing, and it's set in South Africa, where my mum grew up. But I really loved it- beautifully written. She used a very unusual perspective (second person, using 'you')- it allows the narrator into her father's head, but always with a little bit of storytelling distance. It was a vivid portrait of a childhood and young adulthood in South Africa, but also of the connections between parents and their adult children, an...more
Sonja Arlow
Even though the book contained moments of amazing writing the story was so disjointed it almost felt like you were walking through someone else’s fever dreams. The 2nd person narrative was highly distracting and you were never sure if you are now in the past or present of the father or the daughter’s story.

I wish I could give it a higher rating seeing that I love supporting SA authors but this was just not a pleasant reading experience.
Christine
Beautifully written -- a stream of consciousness, as if she is going through old photographs, now remembering her father's early life, now hers. Evocative, sensitive and poignant, Landsman's elegy to her father is just lovely.
Suzanne
"The Rowing Lesson" is a great title giving the reader an image of the rower, athletically moving forward, but requiring frequent looks backward to stay on course. It is the perfect title for this unique novel written by South African Anne Landsman.
A married and pregnant New Yorker, Betsey Klein, returns to her native South Africa to stand vigil at her dying father's bedside. Harry Klein is a Jewish doctor, a general practictioner, living in George, South Africa. Now in a coma, Dr. Klein's life...more
Randa
Betsy Klein is summoned from New York to the bedside of her dying father. The father who is the main protagonists is lying in coma, and already exists only as a memory in the mind of his loving daughter who takes us through his journey from his adolescence in the rural western cape to becoming a man as a student in Cape Town and beyond that to her experience of him as a father teaching her to row on on a river near George.
One cannot help the feeling that these are actual memories from a real li...more
Stephen Cadywold
I read this in an unedited proof and if I weren't familiar with South Africa I'd would have found it useful to have a glossary in the final version. This is a clever (too clever perhaps?) piece of creative writing in the form of a missive from a daughter to her comatose dying father, which is not without its moments of humour. I found the ending peculiar and that, for me, spoiled what is otherwise an engaging and poignant novel.
Liz
Landsman has produced very murky water with her use of language. I enjoyed the challenge of reading it, and the mental hoop of trying to figure out what is the "real" life story of the dying man, and what is the imagined life that his daughter is projecting onto him. Does the story say more about the man or the daughter?
Karol
This novel is full of poetry and spunk, as the narrator imagines her father's life in South Africa after she returns, married and pregnant, from her long years as an ex-pat in New York. It is a poignant book about the bond of father and daughter, and a meditation on identity and place.
Jeannette Laudeman
Couldn't get past Chapter 2. I just didn't like the style of writing and couldn't connect to the characters.
Noreen
Beautifully written and very moving. Really looking forward to her next book!
Julia
Amazing language and impressive use of the second person narrative.
Kay
Jan 04, 2009 Kay marked it as to-read
Shelves: cyber-gifts
Cyber gift - Danielle - Xmas 2007
Tonya
Magnificently written
Kristi
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Mar 22, 2014
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ALTHOUGH I grew up in Worcester, a small South African town in the shadow of the Brandwacht mountains, that wasn't the real me. The real me was best friends with Petunia, the North American goose who left her gooseprints in deep snow; Scuffy, the tugboat, who bumped up against logs and loggers as he floated down an East Coast river; and Madeleine, the little girl who lived right near the amazing E...more
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