Absolutely amazing!!! This is certainly the best short-story collection I have ever read, and I would give it a six-star rating if that was possible!!Absolutely amazing!!! This is certainly the best short-story collection I have ever read, and I would give it a six-star rating if that was possible!!
The most shocking but enjoyable aspect of the book for me was the constant shift of tone. I went from laughter to anxiety and tears without really realizing what was going on. I saw the smile of my face left by the endearing stowaway from chapter one suddenly freeze in shock when I realized what was going to happen in chapter two. I was infected by the anxiety of the survivor in chapter 4 and then suddenly became deeply confused when I started to understand that it was impossible to know whether she was simply insane. I cried with tenderness at the description of the love that the author's persona feels for his girlfriend when she unconsciously uncovers the nape of her neck so that he can nestle in there before sleep... a hubbub of emotions! All in all, the book is immensely moving. It deals with themes such as survival, sorrow, loss, death, and true love, but at the same time it is funny, ironic and brilliant! The narrative style is also praiseworthy, since we are presented with an infinity of voices, attitudes and points of view towards these very serious and yet very human themes, without ever losing its sense of humor and a certain lightness.
Such a wonderful little novel!! First of all, I would like to highlight its humor, which is achieved through subtle irony and comic observation of theSuch a wonderful little novel!! First of all, I would like to highlight its humor, which is achieved through subtle irony and comic observation of the characters on the part of the omniscient narrator. I found myself laughing out loud several times, which is something I really appreciate. Secondly, it has a very fresh narrative style; it displays a number of experimental narrative techniques. Among this, its non-linearity stands out, which is achieved by the frequent use of prolepsis. The novel's play with time results in a remarkable timeless narrative voice. Further, the novel displays a very interesting use of focalization. Finally, the themes it deals with are also very interesting, and it provided some interesting food for thought. On the one hand, the novel made me reflect on the different approaches to education, on the idea that each pupil is an individual with a certain potential, so the role of the teacher should be to promote the development of what each person has inside, rather than to imprint something. I still need to reflect on this issue. On the other hand, the novel also deals with issues of individuality, self-fulfillment, eccentricity, and morality for a woman in an age in which the emancipation of women was just beginning to take place. So all in all, I loved it.
I read this novel as part of my "look for the fore-mothers" project: after studying literature at university I realized that most of the writers we ever considered were white, male, English or North-American authors. So I started to look for other voices and I have to say that Muriel Spark's is one of the most interesting ones I have found so far! She is a woman, she is Scottish, she has been neglected by mainstream academia, and she is GOOD....more
Probably one of the best books I've ever read... It's simply amazing how Doctorow has managed to achieve such a deep understanding of human nature. HeProbably one of the best books I've ever read... It's simply amazing how Doctorow has managed to achieve such a deep understanding of human nature. He sees better than most that the categories of victim and perpetrator are blurred in contemporary society, and often it's impossible to apply one without also applying the other.
Danie Isaacson is a traumatized twenty-five year old man who had to face his parents' execution as a young child and cannot get over the traumatic events of his childhood. He must now also come to terms with the suicide attempt and subsequent death of his beloved sister. However, he is also a cruel husband who constantly terrorizes and tortures his wife, and a mysoginistic domineering power-obsessed man who is determined to eradicate the subjectivity of all the women around him and to control the narrative at all times...
Is he a victim? a perpetrator? Doctorow understands that he is both, since the boundary between these categories has become fuzzy in a society characterized by collective historical trauma.
But this is not the only message that this wonderful book sends: Doctorow uses his novel to develop a sophisticated critique of the paternalistic and patriarchal status quo by presenting the reader with a number of strong female characters to identify with.
In short, a masterpiece that every one should read at least twice.
A particularly beautiful quotation:
"You can’t write out voices. All I can say about your voice is that it is so familiar to me that I cannot perceive the world except with your voice framing the edges of my vision." (Daniel to his unconscious sister right before she dies) ...more