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John Ralston Saul
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Dark Diversions: A Traveler's Tale

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  83 ratings  ·  13 reviews
In Dark Diversions, acclaimed author John Ralston Saul stages a black comedy of international proportions that takes the reader from New York to Paris to Morocco to Haiti in the 1980s and 1990s. When he’s not encountering dictators in Third World hot spots, Saul’s narrator moves in privileged circles on both sides of the Atlantic, insinuating himself into the lives of well ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published August 13th 2013 by Penguin Canada (first published September 4th 2012)
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Average rating 3.31  · 
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 ·  83 ratings  ·  13 reviews

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I think the marketing for this book is not as efficient as it could be. If you look it up on Goodreads or Amazon, the blurbs all make it seem as if this is one complete novel, when in fact it would have served the book better to publicize it as a collection of interconnected stories with the same protagonist in all of them.
Since I was expecting a coherent story, beginning, middle, and end, the first half of the book was in parts amusing and boring, since nothing really fit together. If I’d know
Andrew Griffith
Oct 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A delightful light read, essentially a series of short stories about couples, relationships, life and dictators, held together by the common voice of the writer/narrator, with a wonderful riff on the role of the narrator and some lovely asides, some light, some serious. A few samples:

My attitude is that I don’t refuse lunch with people who want to influence me. You never know when you’re going to be surprised, and whoever ends up paying the bill, you still own your digestion.

Demagogues, dictator
Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Excellent read. Yes it is perhaps a frivolous slice of the population portrayed, but well portrayed. I skipped totally the middle chapter wher the author dialogues with the reader (trite) and the last episode ending disappoints compared to the excellence of the rest of the writing.
I just finished reading this book and found that, while containing stories that did have dark aspects to them, the author told them in a rather humorous way. The book really isn't one whole long tale, but is a collection of little stories about the people and places that the narrator runs across in his globe hopping life as a writer. From dictators in foreign lands to his wealthy circle of friends, he finds incidents to write about that are both odd and sad yet at the same time quite funny. The ...more
Aug 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dark Diversions is not a novel in any conventional sense. It’s a collection of stories, each with the same central character, and none actually about that character. Instead, he is an observer, a chronicler of what goes on around him and not (at least throughout the first half of the book) an active participant.

What makes this book so different to other collections of related short stories (e.g. Conan Doyle, Woodhouse) is that the stories are very different to each other. Some are sad, others co
Aug 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Normally I read mostly books by women, but I shelve at the busy library in our small town on the Sunshine Coast of BC, & find many books & authors I may not otherwise read.

John Ralston Saul's book of interwoven short stories (all about the same character) was cleverly plotted. Each & every story/chapter was quite different. You may not like the character so much though; he's a selfish & arrogant young man.

Worth a read.

Ellen Besso
Author of:
"An Indian Sojourn: One woman's spiritual experience of t
Mike Zinn
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first I didn't think I would like this book much. It is - as other reviewers have mentioned - more like a series of short stories. But it all begins to come together and turns into a sort of fictional autobiography in stories, and I liked it. The lead character moves around the world, among the rich, and kind of slides in and out of other people's lives. Full disclosure - I received this book as a free ARC. ...more
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first of Saul's fiction that I've read. I find it very similar in character to his non-fiction; intelligent narration as insightful as it is cooly humouous. The various stories and those that occupy them, as seen through the eyes of a man who's been around, are wonderfully witty windows into the human condition, with all its foibles. ...more
Dec 07, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I can sum up my review of this collection of independent short stories, with one interwoven narrator, in one word, not to be flippant, but to be efficient;


Alex Handyside
Could not get into it. The chapters were too wildly different. Felt like a book of short stories, with one common thread - the narrator. Gave up.
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Took about mid way through the book to really get a sense of the story. I liked most of it, great imagery from Cuba....
Feb 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Given that the book is a series of short, dark, slightly comedic stories, you still find yourself somewhat transported to the exotic locales that provide the backdrops of the characters' escapades. ...more
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John Ralston Saul is a Canadian author, essayist, and President of International PEN. As an essayist, Saul is particularly known for his commentaries on the nature of individualism, citizenship and the public good; the failures of manager-, or more precisely technocrat-, led societies; the confusion between leadership and managerialism; military strategy, in particular irregular warfare; the role ...more

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