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Sweet Agony

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  228 ratings  ·  24 reviews
On a snowy New England evening in a small college town, Sean Farrell–a hard-drinking, libidinous poet and professor–hosts a Thanksgiving dinner. The eleven guests include two fellow professors (one a novelist, the other also a poet), two of Sean’s former lovers, his lawyer, his housepainter, and his baker. What none of them knows is that Sean is dying. This dinner could be ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published January 7th 2003 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2001)
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Well now, this book has it all: alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorders, depression, adultery, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, rape, incest, murder, suicide, cruelty to animals, the Chernobyl disaster, and even a plane crash. In case you find yourself hoping that life just might get better for these characters, God interjects about every other chapter to tell you how one of them will die. It's a great way to escape...if you're sick of feeling contented with life.
Loved this book! I found the alternating chapters in the voice of the "creator of the universe" very intriguing. Somehow then when the story resumed I read it with a sense of "I know something you don't know". It made me look at each individual character as a living breathing human being and I was very sympathetic to each of them.
This book was amazing in every way. The only problem is, a book should not be able to make you feel the weight of your own mortality at age 20. Morbid, and yet the ending makes me cry with joy every time I read it.
Une belle surprise! Un roman avec lequel je ne savais pas trop à quoi m'attendre et qui m'a agréablement surpris. Malgré une intrigue quasi inexistante, c'est un des ces livres que j'appel des récits de vie, ce livre nous fait découvrir un groupe de personnes et nous fait voyager et vivre toute une gamme d'émotions à travers leurs souvenirs et ce qu'ils les attents. Un style d'écriture très intéressant, assez poétique par moment, des scènes vraies et touchantes malgrés les clichés qui y sont par ...more
A very entertaining look at the future of 12 friends united for a Thanksgiving dinner...through the eyes of God and the death he will give them.

Throughout, the party members reflect on their lives and the people who inhabited these lives.

While sometimes turning a little whiney, there is a certain depth to these characters. Particularly interesting was the newest member of the group, Chloé. The fact that her past is unknown to all makes her a little mysterious.

There are a few reservations for me.
L'auteure n'a pas son pareil pour inventer des personnages, leur donner une épaisseur, les rendre tangibles mais bon sang, à ne pas lire si vous êtes déprimé !
Αγνό μίσος για τα βιβλία που δίνουν φωνή στο Θεό και τον κάνουν χαρακτήρα, ποσω μάλλον για τα βιβλία που τον βάζουν να λέει και μαλακιες.
I like books and films that are set with a limited focus. I find it makes them work harder, which can be a great thing for the story.

This novel is set throughout one dinner party. Alternate chapters are narrated by an omniscient god who shows us the death of each character.

I found the witty parts of the story genuinely funny (a rarity for me!) and the moving and thought-provoking parts also achieved their aim.

All in all it was better that I expected it to be. Quite compulsive reading, and skillf
Eliane L
An in-depth investigation of mid-life anxiety, Dolce Agonia intertwines banal interactions in the huis clos setting of a snowed-in Thanksgiving with the thoughts, memories and dreams of each of the protagonists. Highly vivid and disturbing memories of past events, including incest, the death of a child, Chernobyl, and rape and necrophilia in the Vietnam War bring shattering complexities to the characters essentially making small talk around a turkey. Confusing at times in its non-linearity, this ...more
Nancy Huston propose d’aborder toutes les facettes de l’existence. Parmi elles, l’amour, la maternité, la mort et la vieillesse sont abordées avec pertinence et invite à la réflexion. Ainsi, Dolce agonia réunit pour Thanksgiving, des êtres de tous âges (du bébé au vieillard), de tous métiers et de toutes origines. S’alternent dans ce roman, dialogues, pensées intérieures des personnages et apports de la romancière qui va jusqu’à décrire ce que sera la mort de chacune de ces figures imaginaires.
J'ai beaucoup aimé la forme de ce roman, avec les parenthèses: le "ronron mental" des personnages. J'ai aussi beaucoup apprécié le découpage des chapitres ainsi que le narrateur Dieu qui accélère la vie au début de ceux-ci. Ça m'a fait penser au dernier épisode de Six Feet Under. Bien sûr, le sujet du livre est grave, mais termine sur une note lumineuse. À lire.
I liked another book by this author and thought I'd give this one a try. I don't know if it was one of her first but it certainly read that way. Sort of a better written version of a Palanuik. All sorts of sick little lives being led. It came off as silly...especially the god parts that were thrown in..
C'est un beau livre, mais il contient sans doute trop de scènes horribles (même si ce ne sont que des souvenirs dans l'histoire) pour que je puisse dire l'avoir vraiment aimé. Je crois qu'il faut éviter de lire trop de Nancy Huston à la suite.
Idée originale du narrateur Dieu.
J'ai aimé mais le roman ne m'a pas laissé une grande trace de réflexion. Comme si tout ce qui était écrit était du déjà vu... à part les pages écrites par «Dieu».
I loved the unusual style of this book which switches between chapters narrated by God and chapters narrated by one of the main characters. I couldn't wait to find out what kind of end awaited everyone.
Un peu long, un peu confus, toujours tres (trop?) intense... mais on se prend a vouloir connaitre les personnages.
i found the characters very pompous but the story behind it very good. God is hilarious. interesting story
It didn't hold my interest enough to finish the book. Read all but about 50 pages.
very dreary and depressing. i didnt find anything sweet about the agony.
It was an ok book had to read it for a class, its different but not the best.
I could take or leave this book. Interesting premise though.
C'est excellent, ce divertissement, vraiment!
Cathy added it
Apr 06, 2015
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(from Wikipedia)
Huston lived in Calgary until age fifteen, at which time her family moved to Wilton, New Hampshire, USA. She studied at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, where she was given the opportunity to spend a year of her studies in Paris. Arriving in Paris in 1973, Huston obtained a Master's Degree from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, writing a thesis on swear words und
More about Nancy Huston...
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