The Last Samurai
Six stars! Seven stars! Hell, a herd of stars. We’re givin’ em away (liberated and reworked from The Tubes’ White Punks on Dope).
Finding exactly the right book at exactly the right time doesn’t happen very often. Finding exactly the right book at all doesn’t happen often enough. This one found its way to me through the oddest of circumstances—via Lee (his review), clumsy fingers, and time at the deathbed of my mother—it is what it is.
I follow Lee’s reviews and checked out the one for The Last Sa...more
Just re-read after 10 years after really enjoying DeWitt's very different second novel, Lightning Rods, which just came out. In the past decade I've crammed in a few hundred novels, a few hundred pages of my own writing, and an MFA etc. And it's still one of...more
writing a lil bit more about this so i can submit it to the 500 great books written by women group (these are just sort of random unorganized thoughts, i may revise later):
the last samurai is, on the surface, a book about a child prodigy. it is actua...more
Books like The Last Samurai don’t come my way very often whic...more
One of my favorite books ever. I don't know is how time will affect my opinion of it, but I think it could last.
It's a novel about the normal and the eccentric, about learning, about languages, music, art, and Kurosawa. It's about the shape of brilliance. It doesn't sacrifice philosophy or intellectualism for narrative power or vice versa. Each smaller narrative wound into the whole is like story-candy. There is nothing to dislike: the style, the form, the content, the mood, the cha...more
plus, it's the first fiction by a woman since ayn rand that i loved (don't hold that against me. it's like mandatory for nerdy teenage boys, isn't it?). that's a 14-year drought! and lord knows i tried.
i don't understand why some novels about ordinary people struggling with ordinary crap are considered worthwhile. what do i...more
1 star because her prose is clunky ("He said:... I said:... He said:...") and banal ("The wind is howling. A cold rain is falling.") Because her experiments with form are juvenile and obnoxious. Above all, because it's the type of book that wants to entrench itself against criticism (well of course the prose and form are that way because that's the type of people these characters are!), rather than simply being a better book.
5 star because o...more
interruption by another character
continuing where it left of in mid sentence or even mid wor
d which can get a bit irritating actually. It is also funny particularly in the first half...more
I make it a rule not to read my book jackets until I'm done with the book. I only read books based on whim or recommendation and this one came from a dear friend and another mega-reader. Upon finishing the book, I read the jacket and there were two words that pretty...more
This book is too short, and I need to digest it.
This book is too short, and the time needed to digest it is long.
This short book is too good, and I will digest it a long time.
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I suppose the most basic reason for liking this book is that it's full of intelligent heart and charm. I was consumed. The fictive became real, and I inhabited this world. It is not the arduous challenge it is made out to be. It is a pleasure to read and think about. Dewitt is marvelous--cry...more
This wasn't an easy book to get into. I started it during a particularly busy time - moving to a new place, working longer hours at work...more
The book is simply incoherent and thereby unreadable as any type of narrative.
I went to the party. As so often it was much easier to come with the plan of leaving after 10 minutes than to leave after 10 minutes, for instead of making a polite excuse to leave after 10 minutes I found myself describing now t...more
-Contains one of the great piano recital scenes in all literature (alongside Berthe Trepat's concert in 'Hopscotch')
-Doesn't go as deep into Kurosawa's 'The Seven Samurai' as I expected, but still makes a great double bill after reading the novel
-Doesn't feel nearly as long as its daunting 500+ page count due to numerous short sections, blank spaces, and of course engaging...more
(Haha, was reading it at coffee house one day, and no less than 4 people asked m...more
I cant say I agree with the enthusiastic blurb writer.
To me a genius is someone who writes a book that makes you feel something.
This wasnt it.At most it created a sense of boredom.
It was impossible to read this,it was like being hit by a text flood of pretentiousness.There was no thread to follow just statement after statement...more
Entirely unrelated to that movie of the same name with Tom Cruise.
In The Last Samurai, Helen DeWitt writes...more
I first read The Last Samurai several years ago, perhaps as many as ten? and while I found it fascinating, it was a struggle to finish. Sybilla, the first-half narrator, isn't especially stable; couple that with the fact that she is a gifted academic linguist, and it means that her narrative style is a swirling barrage of words out of which we pluck plot, events, sequences. The plot is quite simple; the characters are quite complex--intimidatingly intell...more
DeWitt grew up primarily in South America (Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador), as her parents worked in the United States diplomatic service. After a year at Northfield Mount Hermon School and two short periods at Smith College, DeWitt studied classics at the University of Oxford, first at Lady Margare...more