Liviu's Reviews > Parallel Stories

Parallel Stories by Péter Nádas
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Jul 24, 14

bookshelves: 2011_release_read, read_2011, top_25_2011_novels, mainstream, all_time_favorites
Read from October 26 to November 15, 2011

after several weeks of reading, rereading, going back and forth and extensively using the search button on my epub version which i alternated with the print version, I finished (at least temporarily and tentatively since this is a book to be reread quite a few times) the novel.

I plan to have a full review on FBC soon so again several points for now;

- the book is extremely dense and jumps between pov's, narrative forms, tenses, characters, so it is best read as a collection of vignettes; some shorter, some longer as in the (in)famous seventy page sex scene that is like most of this novel not for the easily offended (did not count the pages though it seemed to be 50 pages at least but others did and it sounds right)

- some haunting descriptions from war to sex to death

- bodily fluids left and right

- very deep and subtle connections between characters that are easy to miss

- the parallel stories of the title have rarely any finality and characters jump in and out though there are several mainstays in the sort of bedrock part of the novel that takes place in Budapest 1961 and revolves around several late middle aged women with troubled past, their sons, nephews, husbands... and especially the Lippay-Fehr household

- but there is much more that it is really hard to convey what the novel is about unless you start reading

-worth all the money and time i spent on it, no question about it

on the other hand the scathing review of Tibor Fischer in the Guardian has a kernel truth and the novel may turn readers off easily, but I am in the "masterpiece camp"

- as for comparisons with something like 2666, i would say that the Bolano novel reads like a page turner thriller against this one, but I also think that Bolano is a very readable author and in 2666 the ultra-dark middle part with its repetitions of murders is the reason the novel got the reputation of a "hard read" as otherwise it really flows very well and is quite entertaining

all in all Parallel Stories is a truly impressive achievement and while for sheer entertainment and readability 1q84 is still my favorite, this one will easily be my #2 novel of the year if not a co-#1
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