Here is a book that flips between three different times 1988 (Tooly is nine), 1999-2000(Tooly is twenty and then twenty-one) and finally 2011. Here fi...moreHere is a book that flips between three different times 1988 (Tooly is nine), 1999-2000(Tooly is twenty and then twenty-one) and finally 2011. Here finally is a book that profits from time-switches, a modern fad typical of so many contemporary books. This construction turns the story into a mystery. It couldn't and shouldn't be written any differently. This book is perfect for you, if you want to solve a puzzle. You will solve that puzzle along with Tooly, the main character. Tooly is in her thirties and she cannot piece together what has happened to her. Why has she moved so often and who really has had her interests at heart….if anybody?
I liked the book because it gives depth to its characters. By the book’s end you finally discover who they really are. Some disappoint and some you will love. My heart fell for Humphrey; I liked this book because Humphrey is in it. It is him I love, even with all his faults. Read the book to find out about him. You are early on told he is from Russia...... He is wise. For a while he raised Tooly. That is all I will say.
Here follow a few of his lines though:
"Half your life is decided by morons."
Give "me smashed-potato pizza......or sandwich."
And he so loves coffee with not one heaping spoonful, not two, but at least five heaping spoonfuls of sugar!!!!! I do love Humphrey.
Otherwise, what happens to Tooly is not acceptable. It is shocking. Talk about bad parenting.
Another bit I love is the importance of books and learning found in these pages.
Current events of these times are stated, so some day this will be considered a book of historical fiction.
I like the ending. It is both realistic and not without hope. This is also a book about growing up and our behavior at different stages in our life. The author’s ability to capture the behavior of each age is spot-on. That is another reason why I call it realistic.
What shall I say about the narration by Penelope Rawlins? She tries so hard. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Given the time-switches, it helps to know from the voice who is speaking and what the date is, even though the text itself clarifies this. Each chapter begins with a date. Tooly grows from a nine-year-old to young woman in her thirties, and this should be reflected in her voice. It isn’t always so; sometimes she still sounds like a little kid when she is an adult. In addition, the men, ALL of them, sound like they are hoarse and have something in their throat. Seriously, ALL the men couldn’t have this strange sound! This is a very hard book to narrate, and I suppose she is trying her best.
I liked this book because of Humphrey. Read it to meet Humphrey…..or maybe you like solving puzzles!
ETA: When I wrote my review last night, I was terribly disappointed with the ending, the result being I didn’t want to write ANYTHING about the damn b...moreETA: When I wrote my review last night, I was terribly disappointed with the ending, the result being I didn’t want to write ANYTHING about the damn book. Yeah, I am an emotional person who gets involved in the books I read. There is much I didn’t but should have mentioned.
Bellow’s writing is descriptive, filled with details of how people and places look. The dialogs capture the people’s lifestyles very well. You understand who you are dealing with. I personally feel I looked at a family which is not familiar to me. A loving family from the lower classes, but rough and coarse. To say it plainly – most of them are crooks and swindlers. What is interesting is that Augie does get an education and when he writes his story he has a vocabulary that is incongruous to the surroundings and the class of people he is describing, and this feels all wrong – until you realize that it is written later in his life. I knew before he did that it just was not going to work with him melting into the North Shore community of Chicago. I have lived in Chicago, and Bellow well portrays the different areas and their inhabitants.
There are several points of this novel that are in fact autobiographical. Bellow admired Trotsky and was going to meet him in Mexico. He joined the Merchant Marines in the Second World War. He too lived through the Depression, as Augie did. So my question is to what extent Bellow agrees with Augie’s philosophy on how life should be lived! And that is what I have trouble with – the ending and where it leaves you, what it says about Augie’s future and life philosophy. I left the book so very disappointed.
I had to listen to 1/3 of the book to begin to like it. The end totally fizzles out. I have no idea what the author was trying to say with this book.
Parts I DID like though. Augie moves through life floating from one thing to another, pulled in disparate directions by those around him. I liked when he was pulled into working for a union. I had hopes for him then. I liked when he meets up with a woman who hunted with eagles and caught snakes. Gosh, these parts were fascinating. I was there doing it with them in Mexico. But then again the story moves on.
The narration was EXCELLENT. Augie’s personality becomes a thing you recognize; he becomes a person you know. Each character speaks differently, but some are better than others. There is a guy who stutters, and here the narration was so good you could listen to the lines several times. Very, very funny! (Yeah, and there is humor in the book.) Grover Gardner, the narrator also does an excellent job with the different languages - French, Italian, Spanish.
What can I say about Augie? Well, I do wish the guy luck. I wish he would take a stand and go for what he wants.... (less)
Just to clear things up: this book is the same as Dostoyevsky's Demons and The Devils!
No, I am not finishing this book. I have listened to 1/3. My rea...moreJust to clear things up: this book is the same as Dostoyevsky's Demons and The Devils!
No, I am not finishing this book. I have listened to 1/3. My reason is very simple: the discussion/theorizing about nihilism and God, with a spicy murder or two, suicides, and the “who-dunnit” question thrown in, are elements common to all four of the four books I have read by Dostoyevsky:
I have had enough, particularly since I have already read Dostoyevsky's last novel, Brothers Karamazov, which clearly summarizes his beliefs. This was the last one he wrote before his death. A fellow GR reader (Dely) described the four as rising to a crescendo, and she is absolutely right. If you wish to read all four read them in the above order.
Being who I am, it would have been better if I had not continued beyond Crime and Punishment and The Idiot, both of which I loved. They are more ambiguous, less preachy, less didactic. They let the readers decide for themselves what they want to think. On the other hand if you are out after Dostoyevsky's views you need only read Brothers Karamazov. I personally don't want to be told what to think.
In addition the narration by Constance Garnett was not good. You cannot tell who is speaking. The French is really off. No, find some other narrator if you want to listen to this book. This audiobook also lacks the chapter called either "By Tichon" or "Confessions of Stavrogin", which has important information for a better understanding of the events. Wiki does provide information about the content of the chapter though. The chapter was censored in the first publications of the book. I have not finished the audiobook, so there remains the possibility that it is added at the end as an appendix. (less)