I began reading this novel, thinking that I would like it a lot. Everyone around me had praised it to the heavens and said that I without any doubt wo...moreI began reading this novel, thinking that I would like it a lot. Everyone around me had praised it to the heavens and said that I without any doubt would love it. However, after reading a few hundred pages, I couldn't stand it any more. I hated it.
The first part of the book is nothing but a lame excuse for the author to shine with her imagined philosophical knowledges. I usually like philosophical reasoning, but I could hardly get myself through this due to the fact that it was painfully pretentious. I wanted to lie down and cry because of the absolute lack of honesty and originality in the writing. It is all nothing but someone else's words which the authour desperately tries to make her own. In addition, she mixes a pretentious old-fashioned language with modern slang terms and pulp fiction in a way that, according to me, didn't make any sense at all.
However, I pulled though and made it to the part of the book where the actual story begins to unravel. That too was a huge disappointment. The main characters, the 54-year-old concierge Renée and the twelve-year-old genius Paloma, are practically interchangeable. They speak in the same way, have the same thoughts and if the author wouldn't have sneaked in one and another banally childish word in the parts about Paloma, I would never have figured out who was who. Therefore, it did not take long until I threw the book away in the darkest corners of my apartment, never to be seen or read again.(less)
Bukowski at his best. The writing is raw and unpolished, but full of clarity. Every single word is written with heart and there is no lying in this fi...moreBukowski at his best. The writing is raw and unpolished, but full of clarity. Every single word is written with heart and there is no lying in this fire. If you just manage to see through all the obvious sexism and chauvinism, you will find a lot of truth in this book. A few fine quotes:
"'Potential,' I said, 'doesn't mean a thing. You've got to do it. Almost every baby in a crib has more potential than I have.'" (p. 38)
"Goodness could be found sometimes in the middle of hell." (p. 69)
"I never felt right being alone; sometimes it felt good but it never felt right." (p. 101)
"Kissing is more intimate than fucking. That's why I never liked my girlfriends to go around kissing men. I'd rather they fucking them." (p. 157)
"That's the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen." (p. 171-172)
"'...Every woman is different. Basically they seem to be a combination of the best and the worst--both magic and terrible. I'm glad that they exist, however.'" (p. 188)
These quotes alone are enough to get this book a 5 star rating.(less)
After a very bumpy reading, I have shared feelings towards this book. Sometimes I think that it is rather bold and fascinating, other times I think th...moreAfter a very bumpy reading, I have shared feelings towards this book. Sometimes I think that it is rather bold and fascinating, other times I think that it is simply horrible, pretentious and quasi-intellectual.
First of all, Scarlett Thomas seems to be pretty interested in physics. However, she describes the physical phenomenons in a gloomy way and she is not always entirely correct. For example, about 100 pages into the book she says that a person will, theoretically, transform into pure mass when he/she travels at the speed of light. I am by no means a physicist, but from what I have understood it is the other way around: your mass will be transformed into pure energy at the speed of light (or more correctly put: you have to be pure energy in order to travel at the speed of light). I know that the author discusses this matter from a social scientist's point of view and that she, in a later part of the book, says that you actually will turn into pure energy and not mass. Nevertheless, she seems unknowing and incorrect from the very beginning and it seems like she is so desperate to say something about anything that she does not really care whether it is true or not.
It is the same with the philosophical parts, even though I cannot point out any particular faults here. It seems like she does not really know anything about the matters she discusses. She simply drops names like Derrida without further explanation and hopes that the reader won't question her knowledge.
Another thing that keeps annoying me is the language. The language is most of the time rather fine, but then comes these horrible misplaced words and sentences that does not contribute to the story at all. In addition, Mrs. Thomas constantly throws in parts about sadistic sex, penises and vaginas to make the book seem even more "crazy, bold and out of the line". However, the only thing these parts do is, in my opinion, to ruin the reading experience even more because they are so contrived and lack honesty.
All this gives the book a rather false and pretentious aura, which I think is really sad since the book at the same time is an exciting and original story. I do enjoy a bunch of the parts in the Troposphere and think that the whole idea overall is pretty fascinating.
So in conclusion, I am forced to say that this reading, even though being fascinating and grappling at times, in the end is way too pretentious for my tastes. A few too many name drops, gloomy physic and philosophy lessons in combination with an uneven language and superfluous scenes results in me giving this book no more than one star.(less)