karen's Reviews > Visitation

Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck
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's review
Jun 30, 11

bookshelves: distant-lands
Read from June 25 to 27, 2011

oh, i love it when i get to review a book that elizabeth has just reviewed. as though i am going to be able to add anything to the discussion except a weak echo of "i agree! this book is good!!"

so i will just quickly relate my experience with this book which is indeed pretty great.

but not at first.

at first it was killing me with boredom. i have been reading too much teen fiction as of late, and there, the pacing is perfect for hot summer and slipping attention span. this book is NOT for those who can't pay attention. this is some highly concentrated, deliberate prose. and at first, before the human characters come into it, it seems to be just words words words, being boring.

but the significance will become clear later.

aside: i recently went to the movies to see general orders no. 9. and it was a small artsy theater, and the host of the evening (who i did not find smug, but connor said was, a little) prefaced the evening by saying "it is hard to get people to come out for a film like this, a film without human characters on a friday night when you could be going to see the green lantern" and that was supposed to make us feel good about ourselves, like we had made the informed choice for fiber over candy bars.

but seriously?
that movie is soooo boring. yes, city is bad, country is good, progress is problematic, i get it. at least koyaanisqatsi had good music.

but i digress. the only reason i bring it up is because the arc of the book is similar to the arc of the movie, and starting this book the day after i saw the movie, i was apprehensive when it began with a glacier, and then moved on to a whole lot of talk about plants and slow growth. bad, synchronicity, bad!

line from film:

deer trail becomes
indian trail becomes
county road.

but in this book:

open land becomes
family house becomes
nazi toilet

that is not a quote, that is just the way the story progresses. and the book is just a damn sight better at doing what needs to be done. the details are perfection. the tone is completely detached, so whether the scene is someone pruning a tree or someone dying in a gas chamber, there is an emotional remove that only serves to make the reader's emotions more powerful. how she managed to write such a highly concentrated book is beyond me, truly. it is luminous (did i just use the word luminous to describe a book?? i think i did)

this book should be read slowly and carefully and thoughtfully. and then it should be read again. she is really that good.

greg's review is also good, and caused a great deal of fighting, which is funny, even if a lot of it has been deleted.
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Joshua Nomen-Mutatio "words words words, being boring."

This sums up so much. In life and books.

karen there id a difference?

message 3: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Jun 30, 2011 09:39AM) (new)

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio karen wrote: "there id a difference?"

Nope, there idn't. Except having sex with books causes more paper cuts.

karen i have sat through too too many student films in my time...

mofo: hhmph

Tuck MyFleshSingsOut wrote: "karen wrote: "there id a difference?"

Nope, there idn't. Except having sex with books causes more paper cuts."


karen yeah that's right...

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio "idn't" was a cuteism, not a meanism. Arf! Ascot! Weeee!

karen i know!! i know you aren't hurtful.

message 9: by karen (last edited Jun 30, 2011 08:46PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars


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