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2.02  ·  Rating Details ·  63 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
An original and radiant novel about grief, obsession, and the need for meaning from the author of The Family, a finalist for the National Book Award.When his young son dies in a freak accident, Gerard struggles to find a reason in the smallest of details, including the scrap of paper containing the Sanskrit alphabet that is found at the site. Latching on to this final “clu ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published December 2nd 2008 by Anchor (first published 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 120)
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An intriguing concept marred by poor execution, flat characters, and bad dialogue.

I read the book because of its review in the Washington Post. This is what it said:

"Readers in search of an intricately plotted, neatly ordered novel that disgorges camera-ready truths and platitudes should seek it elsewhere. ABC's narrative is propulsive but undeniably eccentric. Its mismatched band of "death-obsessed and death-bound friends" is a 21st-century variant on The Wizard of Oz, drawn together by grie
Mar 22, 2008 Juliet added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: not even my worst enemy
Shelves: 2008
I couldn't even bear to give this silly book a star - Goodreads should introduce black stars that should state how much we hated a book.

It started off fine - a little mystery in a cabin - a death, a mysterious paper on which is written a deeply mysterious language. Then it segued into fluff. Really pretentious fluff that just didn't make any sense. As another reader note, how did a death have any meaning at all with the history of the alphabet?

All the chacters were pretentious little twits and
Robert Wechsler
Oct 08, 2015 Robert Wechsler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-lit
This is a nearly abstract novel about grief, about experiencing and expressing the inexpressible and asking unanswerable questions. Except for one review of the e-book version of this book, none of the reviewers so far has appreciated this National Book Award finalist.

After the accidental death of a child that begins the novel, the novel becomes more mystical than actual. It is told in third person, limited to the child’s father (a POV that creates an effective and appropriate distance between r
Oct 27, 2008 Anita rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
weird, but intriguing
Dec 23, 2008 Jennifer rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one I like.
A little more than one-third of my way through the book I just gave up. I got the galley at last year's BEA in NYC. And one theme I have noticed with galleys is that the story itself seems to not be fleshed out. The typos and TK pages I can handle, but a lame story that hasn't yet been structured is being given (by the bundles) to readers to get a preview doesn't make me want to read ANYTHING else by this particular author and kinda makes me a bit pissed at the publisher for pawning this off on ...more
Julie Failla Earhart
Dec 18, 2008 Julie Failla Earhart rated it did not like it
When I mentor new writers, I always tell them to write what interests them---that’s the only way readers will find their topics interesting. Well, that sage bit of council was blown to smithereens when I read the first two-thirds of David Plante’s new novel, ABC.
The novel opens on a family outing where the six-year-old son of Gerard and Peggy, Harry, is killed. Gerard is also critically injured, but the text doesn’t really specify if the injury is to his legs or back or both. Moments before the
Dec 24, 2007 Birgit rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Plante writes fabulous atmospheric scenes: deeply moving, personal, psychologically nerve-tingling depictions of living, and this book is no exception. It opens with a blissful summer day in a canoe on a lake, a young family paddling toward an abandoned cabin. But all is not well, or won't be shortly, and the way he manages to introduce those elements of danger is creepy. Everything that happens in and around the cabin is profoundly eerie and disturbing.
What follows becomes as unhinged as
Stated simply: A great story written poorly.

The idea is intriguing, but the execution and unveiling of plot is terrible. Plante pounds you over the head with philosophy, ideology, and something close to overwhelming transcendentalism. And the dialogue is as difficult to follow as a lecture on any of the aforementioned - something Plante is familiar with as he is himself a professor (heaven help his students). Plante also uses an exorbitant amount of convoluted sentences, punctuated with unnecess
Feb 28, 2011 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Plante is surprisingly prolific and although I haven't found a website dedicated solely to Plante, I was able to learn from various resources that he is most widely known for The Family (1978). ABC has been on the recommended reading list for Dreamworld Book Reviews since its release; however the source that recommended it has been long forgotten.

ABC is a tale about the mourning of Gerard Chauvin, a father who loses his son to a freak accident in an old abandoned house while vacationing at
Bookmarks Magazine

How does a parent carry on after the death of a child? And why do critics differ so greatly in their opinions of veteran author David Plante's latest work? While some appreciated Plante's simple, unadorned writing, others found it oddly flat and perfunctory, reducing character descriptions and settings to "labels on cans" (New York Times Book Review). The novel's middle section, in which the history of the alphabet is explored in a series of lectures given by a Cambridge professor, drains the pl

Sigh. In theory, this book is terrific. Man witnesses tragic death of son, finds strange symbols at the crime scene, and embarks on a quest to understand the origins of the alphabet. Man gets swept up with other characters who also experienced profound loss and seek the same answers. Somehow, this fascinating premise is totally wasted on a book that reads like it was written by a pretentious semiotics or philology professor. I get that this somewhat pointless quest is some kind of psychological ...more
Dawn Leitheuser
Started out good. By the end however, I was more confused to the point. Lost me on this one
Joe White
Oct 13, 2012 Joe White rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, donated
The author's intention is to repeatedly shout out about grief and death. The philological connection introduced at the beginning is a play on a Da Vinci by Dan Brown in order to hook the reader and attempt to promise a journey to a worthwhile read. Instead there is a meaningless scattering of historical references to alphabet creation and modification. It's an absolute jumble in time and some of the references are doubtful. All populations over time have had war and human standards that cause su ...more
Aug 17, 2010 NotSoSAHM rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ugh. This had the potential to be a fascinating book but was marred by bad storytelling. The author attempted to deepen the story with the presence of the dead and metaphysical happenings and lots of philosophical ponderings, but he didn't take any of those concepts deep enough. It left the story mixed up and schizophrenic and frustrating. I wanted more of the actual history of the alphabet! And, please tell me, what was necessary about that long, detailed and horrific account of the Chechen war ...more
Sep 20, 2008 Brandy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I read through the first 10 pages and had to give up. 10 pages was very generous, I feel; I knew by the third sentence that the writing in this book was terrible:

For all the ten years Gerard had been spending his summers on the other side of the lake in the house his wife, Peggy, had inherited from a rich uncle, the cove with the abandoned house overlooking it had been the end of every canoe ride.

Eesh. This is either a poorly-written book or a crime against humanity.
Mai Ling
Feb 13, 2008 Mai Ling rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody, please
This book started off so promising, I was sure it was going to be a great lunchtime read. Well, I guess it actually did serve that purpose because it was somewhat short, but please please please don't read this book. It just disintigrates about halfway through and then it no longer makes any sense whatsoever. And I'm sorry, but I just don't see any connection AT ALL between losing a loved one and obsessing over the alphabet. It's actually kind of degrading.
Jun 03, 2013 Dawn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This could have been a much better book considering the mystery behind the symbols, the historical references and lessons learned, but Plante failed to truly bring the characters to life during the course of the book. It became difficult at times to continue reading because the characters were so 2 dimensional and were pretty difficult to connect to. The most interesting parts were learning the historical meanings and values of certain things.
Desiree Depinet
Apr 16, 2011 Desiree Depinet rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In the beginning I thought this may be a good book with a good stroy. I finished the book simply becuase I already had time invested in it, but I finshed the book and scratched my head. I have no idea what the point behind this book was and felt like I had been robbed of valuable reading time.
Dec 08, 2008 Kelly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was bearable for about the first 100 pages. The next 150 dragged on ever so painfully slow. I only finished it because I was mildly curious how the story related to the death of the main character's son. The book never quite tied up this fact, and I am sorry I continued reading.
Carefree Toni
Feb 24, 2011 Carefree Toni rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I gave up!

The book started off interestingly enough and then quickly turned into an academic exploration of the nature of language/the alphabet.
I really did not enjoy this book. I didn't connect with the characters and in the end I didn't get the point of it. Don't read it.
Feb 06, 2008 Malcolm rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Inventive, but wanders off on so many tangents one (including the protagonist) is hard-pressed to see the point.
Athenia Cato
This book was hard to get into and hard to follow. The end left you wondering what the point of the book was.
Mar 17, 2008 Mary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing. It started out as a great mystery that never lived up to its initial promise.
Winter Wren
Jun 29, 2008 Winter Wren rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: public-library
So very glad I did not buy this turkey. Welcome to a rare thing, a book I did not finish.
Tacie Schwartz
Jul 29, 2012 Tacie Schwartz rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I just could not get into this book. I didn't finish it, and that rarely happens with me.
Sep 15, 2010 Barbara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
A novel of obsession and grief that pushes the boundaries of belief.
Oct 10, 2007 Linda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't finish this book
Jessica Koch
Aug 02, 2013 Jessica Koch rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Worst book ever.
Carrie rated it did not like it
Sep 04, 2016
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The son of Albina Bisson and Aniclet Plante, he is of both French-Canadian and North American Indian descent.He is a graduate of Boston College and the Université catholique de Louvain. He has been published extensively including in The New Yorker and The Paris Review and various literary magazines. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Among his honours are: Henfield Fellow, Univers ...more
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