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What Can I Do When Everything's On Fire?
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What Can I Do When Everything's On Fire?

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  99 ratings  ·  13 reviews
The razor-thin line between reality and madness is transgressed in this Faulknerian masterpiece, António Lobo Antunes's first novel to appear in English in five years. What Can I Do When Everything's On Fire?, set in the steamy world of Lisbon's demimonde—a nightclub milieu of scorching intensity and kaleidoscopic beauty, a baleful planet populated by drag queens, clowns, ...more
ebook, 480 pages
Published September 17th 2008 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2001)
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Nick
Antonio Lobo Antunes is the other great modern novelist of Portugal, somewhat the antithesis of the Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago and his fables. Lobo Antunes is, if everything, too much of this world. "What Can I Do When Everything's On Fire", despite the irresistible title, is a tough read. Not because it is poorly written -- in fact, because the writing is so virtuosic. Like "The Sound and the Fury", this novel begins with a narrator who cannot tell a story. Unlike "The Sound and the Fury", a ...more
Didier Vanoverbeke
This novel of the downtrodden reads like a symphony, with many voices weaving in and out of a blurred narrative driven by a rhythmic prose style. I have seen many reviewers on this network maligning this style, though I would argue the individual chapters are short enough that the demands on your parsing faculties are not that daunting. And parse is what you wil do, as perspectives and narrators grab the reins without warning, especially in the last quarter of the novel, where the amount of pers ...more
Lauren
This is a complicated read, sometimes frustrating, but worth plowing through. Antunes disorients the reader. At its base, it is about drag queens & drug addicts and life's difficulties.

The list of characters is essential; at points they are the sole compass, other than place names, to get a bearing on the time-line, narrator and action. The main narrator, Paulo, directs the bulk of the novel, while other characters have a say throughout. It deals somewhat indirectly with the issues of dysfun
...more
João Roque
O que é necessário para que abandone a leitura de um livro?
Por assim dizer, tudo!
Que o livro não me agrade, que o não compreenda, e sobretudo, considerando-me, modéstia à parte, suficientemente inteligente e culto, que ache esse livro como impossível de ler.
Assim sucede com esta minha (infeliz) estreia com o universo literário de António Lobo Antunes - "Que farei quando tudo arde" é intragável...
Felizmente tenho aqui para ler noutra altura mais dois livros do autor para tentar modificar a muito
...more
Lindsey
Though parts of this novel were very lyrically beautiful, the whole concept seemed pretty pointless and I had a really difficult time getting through it, so much so that I often referred to it as "drivel" and "that dumb novel I'm still slogging through". But I finished it! So I am kind of impressed with myself. Basically, Atunes creates, say, fifteen characters and over the course of almost 600 pages switches back and forth between their first-person narratives, usually without any sort of warni ...more
Lawrence
What can you do when a novel drowns you in voices of the damned? That's precisely what happens with this novel. As a reader, you are trapped in the world of voices, ostensibly the voice of the main narrator, Paulo, the son of a LIsbon drag queen father and an alcoholic prostitute mother who himself is a heroin addict, but there are other voices, too. Voices of confusion, anger, hate, damage, lies, regret, etc. They endlessly repeat. They all run together. There's no way out. But it somehow works ...more
Michael
Well, it was a battle, but I did finish it. Antunes's novel is more like a very long stream-of-consciousness prose poem, where the present, past, and maybe the future are all mixed together. Snippets of conversation mingle with in the innermost thoughts of a variety of characters, along with what I guess would describe as kind of mini-vignettes. Probably the most difficult book I've ever read (I tend to like at least fairly realistic fiction or fantasty-ish lit along the lines of Calvino and Bor ...more
Patricia
A challenging read, but mesmerizing! Grateful for the cast of characters in the front, which I referred to often. Hard to know who was talking/thinking/acting - a tangle of thoughts,conversations and descriptions. Kind of stream of consciousness - but not often sure whose conscious! Poetic in a way.
Renee
This book killed me. The story was so-so interesting but the voice and presentation of the story was not something I didn't enjoy. After about 300 pages (i think there are 500) I quit. I didn't care about the carters or the story and felt enough was enough.
Stephany Joy
A thistle of poetry that took my breath away at times but I ended up drowning in. A for effort, bookclub.
David Swire
Much more difficult than necessary. Over 600 pages to reach the ending I saw coming.
Jesse K
Dense, confusing, depressing, poetic, and amazing.
Erin
this is amazing and not the easiest read...
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At the age of seven, António Lobo Antunes decided to be a writer but when he was 16, his father sent him to medical school - he is a psychiatrist. During this time he never stopped writing.
By the end of his education he had to join the Army, to take part in the war in Angola, from 1970 to 1973. It was there, in a military hospital, that he gained interest for the subjects of death and the other. T
...more
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