stephen's Reviews > The Yacoubian Building

The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany
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's review
Jul 05, 07

liked it

excellent long long sentences. colorful group of personages rendered as if balzac had never happened. which is not in itself a bad thing. it's just that balzac did happen and so doing straight descriptive work with reference to the social world seems, well, one-dimensional. there is enjoyable one-dimensional and not enjoyable one-dimensional: this is mostly in the former category if you pay exclusive attention to the male characters. the women do not fare so well. nonetheless i would recommend it to whomever happens on this looking for that sort of important advice. yes yes, go read it. don't worry about the balzac remark: it hardly matters except as a personal quirk/preference of mine.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Laura (new)

Laura but maybe this person is the arabic balzac. is this book a translation? perhaps they are coming from a totally different tradition.

message 2: by stephen (last edited Jul 06, 2007 11:06AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

stephen well, that's why i noted that the problem is mine, not al aswany's.

it follows from the assumption that doing history/describing the social-historical is a form of conceptual art which is all the more rigidly procedural when its procedure-bound characteristics are not acknowledged.

so the most procedure-bound modes of staging/describing are those which stay roughly within the time-frame of immediate perception. widening that time-frame opens up space for thinking operations as operations that would unfold within the temporality of immediate perception as features. balzac does this alot, especially with analytic descriptions of clothing--which opens onto social position as performance rather than social position as following directly from a set of external characteristics (which typically are doubled in subjective characteristics, because of course form->content blah blah blah.)

so in the end, it's about trawling for texts that reprocess rather than repeat, but actively reprocess--that operate with an analytic grid that interacts with a descriptive grid, both of which are layed over the space activated by reading that claims for itself the status of the world...

so yeah, the criterion is mine.

message 3: by Robin (new)

Robin "personages"...?

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