history told like a story of real people, go figure. i sat in my backyard and read it until it was finished. one of the best books that i've read for...morehistory told like a story of real people, go figure. i sat in my backyard and read it until it was finished. one of the best books that i've read for college. much cooler than reading a top-down, dry political version of this history. it gave a much more human look at socialism. cool.
if anyone has the "americas" book that peter winn wrote i'd swap.(less)
I was skeptical about this book at the begining, really for the first hundred pages. It seemed to me at first that Jake was just a lonely guy who refu...moreI was skeptical about this book at the begining, really for the first hundred pages. It seemed to me at first that Jake was just a lonely guy who refused to do anything about it, in love with the wrong girl and nothing really happened besides that. It was no Moby Dick, no adventure, no strangeness at all. It was just a really simple look at a normal person's life. That didn't cut it at first, but then I realized that it really hits the intensities of everyday life and friendships and the entire social system that forms when different people come together. It really made me rethink some of my relationships and the things that made me angry about other people, and hurt by them. I think that Hemingway sees social interation as a crazy battle or a proverbial bull-fight in this case. It was full of sad, sad people who just go at eachother over this one shocking and beautiful girl, drinking away everything and trying to get by. It turned out to be really meaningful to me in the end.
Also, aside from the emotional stuff of this book, it made me start dreaming about Europe and the American artist-expatriate scene in the 20s...really cool stuff. I made me want to spend a couple of years writing in Paris. Also, all of the bull fighting fiestas in Pamplona made me interested in going to Spain for the first time after years of choosing Latin America over Spain without thought...I mean, I would still rather see more Latin America than Spain, but it sparked an interest in me in a big way. OH THE WORLD!!(less)
I started reading Amerika on an airplane to Caracas, Venezuela. At first I felt strange to be reading a book named after America on my way out of it,...moreI started reading Amerika on an airplane to Caracas, Venezuela. At first I felt strange to be reading a book named after America on my way out of it, and I a little nervous about looking like the type of American who flaunts it while I was on the road and trying to be invisible in a place where the we are not exactly considered friends. After a few chapters though, I was hit with a different take. Amerika is a story about a young boy who is displaced, stuck in a foriegn country and forced to survive while everybody he knows abandons him every thirty pages. Then, I really started to identify with the guy in a sort of sickening and terrifying way. I too was a little kid sticking myself for superficial seeming reasons in another country where I had no friends and no idea what to do. This book is definitely a piece of art, but not much of a travel companion. Just the begining left me afraid to go out there into the world and definitely put a shadow over my earlier romanticization of travel. It made me want to stop being invisible and go home to the people I care about.
I think that in that sence, this book should definitely be considiered part of the Kafka corpus, it is another look at lonliness and frustration from the perspective of a small person in a big and confusing world. At the same time, it has a different sort of feel to it than The Trial or The Castle. Karl Rossman, the protagonist in Amerika is a 17 year old kid with a name and a background, realistic desires and more human sadness. He is very different from K. and Joseph K., the unnamed, sort of faceless and erie main characters in Kafka's other novels. I think for this reason, the development of Karl's story takes on a different character (no pun intended) its something a little more human, and gets to you at a bit of a deeper level. While I felt that the abrupt ending of the Trial put both the character and the reader out of their misery, when I made it to the end of what was actually written in Amerika, I really cared about Karl and wanted to see him make it through to something better. I compared Karl to myself where I saw the other two novels more as a feat in writing that I wanted to get inside or an interesting intellectual experiement.
The other cool thing that this book gets into is an outsider's look on this country, and the false promises of the American dream. Don't get me wrong, this is no deToqueville-ish, boring social analysis, but through Karl's hopes and expectations, we get an interesting look at Kafka's idea of what America means and his doubts about its type of idealism. Reading this right after Peter Singer's "One World", I was definitely prepared for criticism of the American way, but this took on a different, much more emotional approach. I'm not sure if Kafka even came to America in his lifetime, but it seems that it was definitely something that he was aware of, and thought about.
In general, after reading all three novels and a good chunk of his other works, I think that its safe to say that this is my favorite Kafka novel. I defininitely recomend it to someone who thought of it as marginal as compared to the other novels. I find it the most complete and emotionally intense.(less)
This is way better than "The Things They Carried". I recomended to anyone who is interested in books with cool form, insanity, writers who don't know...moreThis is way better than "The Things They Carried". I recomended to anyone who is interested in books with cool form, insanity, writers who don't know what is reality and what is art. Its been a while now, since I read it, but it left me with a lot of ideas about the craft of writing and the emotional implications of war.(less)
I put a longer review of this book / a journal entry that I wrote while I was reading it in "my writing" since it was too long for this page.
6.9.07 Nau...moreI put a longer review of this book / a journal entry that I wrote while I was reading it in "my writing" since it was too long for this page.
6.9.07 Nausea is not a good thing to have as the only thing that belongs to you, and even worse as the only thing that you belong to. It is sickening and dark and so terribly everyday that it gets inside you if you let it. Sartre writes beautifully and describes the physical world in such incredible detail, that if you are a reader, and even more if you are a writer, you want to keep going and never put it down, but if you are not emotionally stable enough to handle the fact that you might have done nothing but existing, don't read this book. If you are jaded by love don't read this book. If you almost lost your self in desire, don't read this book. Probably nobody should read this book. Then again, if you are like me and obsessed with words and the art that comes from darkness and the study of lonliness, then this is a work of genius. Its beautifully written, terrifying and intense. So go ahead, but at your own risk, and when you freak the hell out, don't tell anyone that it was me who recommended that you mess with Sartre. (less)