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The Book of Getting Even
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The Book of Getting Even

3.0 of 5 stars 3.00  ·  rating details  ·  100 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Son of a rabbi, budding astronomer Gabriel Geismar is on his way from youth to manhood in the 1970s when he falls in love with the esteemed and beguiling Hundert family, different in every way from his own. Over the course of a decade-long drama unfolding in New Orleans, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, and the Wisconsin countryside, Gabriel enters more and more passionate ...more
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Published May 20th 2008 by Steerforth Press (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 193)
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Clare
Sometimes I think I have read a zillion coming-of-age books in which young people bounce around from relationship to relationship, from job to job, from place to place. They never change much but they change what is around them in a futile desire to discover their own depth (which in many cases is completely non-existent).

Their are moments of humor in this little novel that caught my interest but the story was a major bore.
eb
The story of a gay rabbi's son from New Orleans. The writing is almost too good; it holds you at arm's length, and you don't feel close to the characters. The brevity of the book is a problem, too. The rapturous final page feels unearned. But the story is fresh, the dialogue is snappy, and the prose shines.
Nick Duretta
While this saga of Gabriel, a bright young astrophysicist, coming of age with his best friends Marghe and Daniel, is extremely well-written (the prose is what you would call smart-literary), it felt curtailed and rushed to me. A lot happens, years pass, and several large themes are introduced (the role of Jews in modern science, gay relationships in the fast-changing seventies, the emotional toll of political opposition and protest, among many others.) In the end I wasn't quite sure how to feel ...more
Open Loop Press
Benjamin Taylor is a writer in full control of the tools available to a practitioner of the language arts. His prose is elegant, his language intoxicating; the stories he tells are rich in detail, full of import, and of intricate disposition. His techniques have been assembled over a lifetime of reading: Nabokov, Bellow, Hemingway, Cather, Isherwood, Woolf. From these and others he has learned unconventional dialog, the trick of presenting action by catalog, the appropriation of history and scie ...more
Sarah
I knew this little adult novel would be a quick read--just perfect for a Tuesday afternoon And now I'm not too sure what I think of it. I finished it, at least. But I think it's a little too adult for my student readers, and I don't mean that in a bad way. I just think that this book has a lot of dialogue and nuances that adults can catch, but maybe not so much teenagers.[return][return]Gabriel grows up the son of a rabbi in New Orleans. He goes to Swarthmore up north at the age of 16 in the 197 ...more
Regalado Montoya
La construcción de los personajes es sólida y constante, es fácil conocerlos y entenderlos. Los momentos decisivos son abordados sin mayores pretensiones, lo que les imprime un total sentido de realidad. Sin embargo, se siente vaga por momentos y puede ser pesada en lo que respecta a referencias culturales/históricas.
Wayne Courtois
I give this book high marks because the writing is sublime. The prose leaps back and forth between the colloquial and the lyrical with the grace of a gazelle. The characters are interesting also but, in the end, remain somewhat superficial. There's an awful lot about the young hero, Gabriel, that we never see. Some cataclysmic events--such as the first time he sleeps with another boy--are scarcely referred to. Instead we are ushered on, as if by an impatient tour guide, to another brilliantly wr ...more
Larry Hoffer
Loved this book. A little bit intellectually heavy at times, since the main character is a budding astronomer and often looks to science to calm him or provide some order during times of chaos, but this is a tremendously affecting, beautifully written book. At its core are the questions: are we who we are because of or despite our parents? How do we embrace or avoid falling into their same patterns? The characters in this book are memorable, perplexing, amusing and heartbreaking. I honestly woul ...more
Richard Jespers
Bequeathed my copy to JC while we were in Mass. Not as good as The New Yorker book critic indicated.
Walt
The Book of Getting Even is among the most original novels I have read in recent years. The story Taylor tells is a romance of brains — brains working well, then tragically giving out. The book is exuberant and charming and heartbroken by turns; indeed, the jaggedness of the ride is one of the things I liked best, along with Taylor's proceeding by ironies. Add to that lyricism, an ear for dialogue, a strong feel for place, and a highly developed dramatic sense and you begin to have an idea of th ...more
Alejandro Bejarano
I got this book on sale and when I read it I got pretty surprised to find out the main character was gay although his sexuality it's the center of the story. Sometimes I felt I was lost in translation when the author went on and on with WWII details and completely forgot to tell the story of the characters. I fell in love with Marghie, a hopeless romantic, a reality-escapist, a true life-lover. I really expected more from the end of the book. It was way open although exquisitely romantic.
Lori
The story follows a Jewish youth as he takes off for college to escape his Rabbi father and unassuming mother. While there, he meets a set of twins that both fall for him. He is struggling with his sexuality and his views of Judaism. The twins father is his physicist idol and it appears to be the family that he always wanted. The story then shows the different paths that the three take in their adult journeys.
Hannah
It seems wrong to "review" a book I not only didn't finish, but one in which I didn't even make it past page 30. But, if I don't put it here in Goodreads, I am at risk of going to read it again (and again.) The blurb makes it look so good, but I could NOT get anywhere with it. If anyone in my circle makes it further and thinks it is worth it, I am eager to hear. The topic sounds great. I hated the writing...
Sonya
The cover line blurb from Philip Roth intrigued me, so I picked up this new fiction and am really enjoying the story. Interesting narrator from New Orleans coming of age in New York and Chicago, discovering friendship and romantic love, and the philosophy of the cosmos through math and astronomy. Very literary, not much "action" happening per se, but it's a good, fast read. I'd recommend it to friends.
Shelley
Mar 14, 2012 Shelley marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I read through page 26. I just didn't like the protagonist. The book was too abstract. I understood the story, but I dislike disjointed narratives. This isn't excessively so, but not to my taste. Gabriel just meets the family that will change his life (according to the jacket) around page 25, so maybe it gets better. I have too many other things to read to persevere with this one right now.
Cj
The book has just enough of a Philip Roth guilt-sex-family-jew complex thing to make me finish it, but that's the only reason I got through it. That, and it's short. There's lots of aspiring, an intriguing form of protest against war in there, but otherwise...I didn't like the main character and didn't care about all the scientific pursuits involved. And I really wanted to care.
Matt
Can't quite decide what to think about this one -- in many places the writing was so crisp, but the story by no means original, more a condensed compilation of several other coming-of-age novels. And it tries to do so much in less than 200 pages... I'll turn a curious eye towards the next Benjamin Taylor novel, but not particularly impressed with this.
Marti
very conflicted. the story never grabbed me but the writing was beautiful. "Some of us must cope with human nature as it is rather than dreaming of human nature as it ought to be." maybe Taylor is a writer's writer. i get that but don't want to spend any more time reading novels that don't have a good story.
Trent
The plot is reminiscent of "Brideshead Revisited"--a young man falls under the spell of a family of a higher social class--and it's a pretty good book. (One glaring anachronism: no one used the term "obsessive-compulsive disorder in the early 1970s.)
Steve Butzel
Not entirely my cup of tea but in the end I enjoyed it, or should I say, I was moved by it. In a way I feel I was emotionally manipulated by the author in somewhat gratuitous ways. Nevertheless, the ending packs a punch worthy of reflection.
Candace Yoshioka
I don't know. I felt really stupid after reading the rave reviews and then not getting it. I didn't find it entertaining at all. It felt so scattered and I honestly had a hard time just getting through it and it's only 170 pages.
Meg
This book was short and sweet, and pretty beautifully written. It's full of lovely prose one-line wisdom, which is my favorite type. Read it if you ever come across it.
Dorinda
This is a beautifully written little book that is much bigger than its length. I would re-read and that is somethign I rarely do.
Ayelet Waldman
Taylor’s a terrific writer, but this book’s breakneck pace was a bit exhausting.
Alfredo Mordezki
A sometimes difficult but very enjoyable story and characters.
Becky
wonderful and only 166 pages
Gerri
Nov 30, 2009 Gerri rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
I know many liked this but I was annoyed by both the author and the character. What was the point?
Jonathan Griffiths
Jonathan Griffiths marked it as to-read
Sep 03, 2015
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Benjamin Taylor is a founding member of the Graduate Writing Program faculty at the New School and the author or editor of six previous books, including The Book of Getting Even and Saul Bellow: Letters.
More about Benjamin Taylor...
Naples Declared Storyology Essays in Folk-Lore, Sea-Lore, and Plant-Lore Proust: The Future's Secret Tales Out of School Up from the Snakepit

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