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Banana Rose

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  617 ratings  ·  66 reviews
The bestselling novel from the beloved author of Writing Down the Bones, Wild Mind, and Long Quiet Highway is now available in paperback for the first time.  With a half-million copies in print of her three remarkable books of nonfiction, Natalie Goldberg has inspired a generation of writers with her insight, humor, and empathy.  Subtly hilarious and achingly raw, her firs ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 1st 1997 by Bantam (first published 1995)
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Average rating 3.51  · 
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 ·  617 ratings  ·  66 reviews

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Debbie Zapata
May 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019sundaze
Like many other reviewers, I learned about Natalie Goldberg when I read her books on writing back in the mid-90's. I knew then about this book but never saw it anywhere and it wasn't until a few years ago when I discovered my favorite online used book store that I eventually ordered a copy.

I noticed that many other reviewers also came to this book after reading NG's writing books. And many were disappointed. Was I?

In a way. I suppose like everyone else I expected this novel to match the power o
Feb 03, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I'm not sure how to rate Banana Rose. I kinda didnt like it , too weird, stilted conversations, rambling, flat emotions . It was almost as though the main character , Banana Rose , was off on the side of the action watching her own actions. The story of a Jewish New York city transplant to a New Mexico hippie community trying to break through as an artist was interesting enough for me to read to the ending. Yet. The ending was weird . ...more
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was ok
I really like writing down the bones, but Banana Rose just left me cold. The old expression, "those who can't do, teach" comes to mind... ...more
Ruby Hollyberry
Feb 11, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: literature, not-owned
Like another author who writes very very well when she writes about herself and about writing (Anne Lamott), Natalie Goldberg sucks at fiction. I love Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within and Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life with an unquenchable passion, just as I love Lamott's Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, and Grace Eventu ...more
Geoff Young
Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
Two of my favorite nonfiction writers are Anne Lamott and Natalie Goldberg. Their voices are conversational, engaging, and unique. When reading their essays, I often feel like I'm listening to a familiar friend full of charm and insight. They inspire me.

Unfortunately their attempts at fiction do not have a similar effect. Goldberg's Banana Rose suffers from a first-person narrator that comes off as self-absorbed and shallow, often providing irrelevant details that manage to make both food and se
Carla Stafford
Jul 19, 2015 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the description in this book-it seemed appropriate to me that a painter/hippie would describe her emotions using color descriptions and nature metaphors. I think I struggled with the straightforward simplistic nature of Banana Rose's character. This may be consistent with her hippie ideals-but her ability to easily accept monumental events in her life...or at least to describe heart wrenching experiences in a passive voice-was difficult for me to relate to on a personal level. Portions ...more
Alison Perry
May 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This was the first Natalie Goldberg I ever read and I totally fell in love with it. The book follows Bananna Rose as she deals with love, friendship and life after the hippie-era in Taos, NM. It's pretty artsy and a lot dirty hippie. I love it. ...more
Jul 03, 2008 rated it did not like it
Truly abysmal; I was embarrassed for Goldberg. Notice she's never published another presumes I was not the only one who hated it. ...more
Jul 19, 2008 rated it it was ok
I just finished reading Banana Rose by Natalie Goldberg for one of my book clubs. I honestly cannot recommend this book. The book has a good premise (hippie girl tries to find herself and becomes a real artist in New Mexico) but the author does a terrible job fleshing out the characters. They are not believable and the dialouge rings false. The dialouge feels very contrived and artificial.
Almost every chapter (sometimes every paragraph) had a sentance that just made me say "Ugh!" For example,
Nov 13, 2008 rated it liked it
Like, I suspect, most people who read this book, I picked it up out of a love for Goldberg's books on writing, most notably Writing Down the Bones. In those books she emphasizes freewriting and original detail far more than standard stuff like plot, character, and revision, and it is quite evident in this debut novel. Nell is a hippie living near Taos, New Mexico; this is the story of her journey to becoming an artist. The language is vibrant and the metaphors unforgettable, but the story and di ...more
Dec 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
Goldberg's books on writing have been a guiding force in my own writing for a few decades. It's funny to see her tips so clearly spelled out in her novel, Banana Rose. Unfortunately the novel suffers a dearth of emotional connection underneath the frequent, specific description and the main character's spontaneity.
I really wanted to like this book more. I liked the character, though she felt at a remove. The book is about a romantic relationship and a friendship, and it struck me that only the f
Feb 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
I'd listened to Natalie Goldberg's audio CD on Zen and writing and enjoyed it, so when I saw Banana Rose in the used bookstore, I couldn't resist. Would her fiction live up to her writing instruction? It did. An enjoyable look at the wild hippy life of a New York Jewish girl. The writing is fresh and vital, transporting you to the world of Banana Rose and her lover/husband Gaugin. If I had a complaint, it would be that Banana remains painfully naive and without a trace of the political theory th ...more
May 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a great book. I read it in two days. The imagery and the feelings are so real.
Sep 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Like Anne Lamott, I like Natalie Goldberg's autobiographical works much better than her fiction. ...more
Jul 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Bananna Rose by Natalie Goldberg left a love wound in my heart. A most excellent reading experience.
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
I prefer her non-fiction, truth be told. Nothing against the book, but i was bored.
I have been wanting to read this book for years and I finally did. I fell in love with the creative works of Natalie Goldberg more than 25 years ago. I have read Writing Down the Bones 4 or 5 times. I was rereading Wild Mind for the third time when I started reading Banana Rose. I have read two of her memoirs and her book on painting.
In many of her books on writing, Goldberg talks about the importance of detail in writing. And she practices what she preaches in this her only novel. She builds th
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Now that I've been to New Mexico, I can read this book. Twice I'd started, and while the prologue stayed with me, I felt too critical of it. A month after going out West, I see Taos, New Mexico with different eyes. I spent hours driving through the desert with my family. In the City of Rocks in southern New Mexico, I spent time hiking to the tops of boulders and looking to the horizon across the desert. BANANA ROSE is a beat novel all about the hippie commune in Taos and what it was like for Nel ...more
Feb 25, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I read this book as 12-13 year old, picking it out at the library because the cover looked cool. It still rings in my mind as a transformative book 30 years later. It was the first time I encountered bisexual characters, which I could relate to and needed that touch stone in my small town. The struggles of love, searching fir yourself in a new place and what it means to be an artist resonate with me still. I definitely still recommend it for young adults as the inner struggle is the primary poin ...more
Ronald Wilcox
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general-fiction
Although several reviewers have panned the writing style in this book, I found the voice of the protagonist, Banana Rose, interesting in a way that made me care about what would happen to her. She is a hippie, living in Taos, New Mexico, who meets Gauguin, a man who quickly becomes the love of her life. The book is filled with the ups and downs of her life over the next few years as well as the lives of several quirky friends. Very tangential in style in an enjoyable manner.
Apr 24, 2022 rated it it was amazing
25 years later and I still love the heartwarming and heartbreaking sides of this book. I’m normally a nonfiction reader but broke my trend as I found an almost new copy of this in a giveaway library. My original copy was loaned and left in someone’s packed home (I think). Natalie’s description and journey take the reader on an unlikely trip through places, feelings and relationships. Take a chance on Banana Rose. NSFW or those not ready for some description of sexual encounters. Enjoy.
Virginia Pulver
Nov 25, 2018 rated it liked it
The storyline, which seemed to be quite autobiographical, despite the disclaimer, is compelling. Frankly, I was put off (or perhaps disappointed) by the lackluster dialogue. Having lived in Santa Fe, Denver and in the upper Midwest (among about 15 other areas), I was drawn in by Goldberg's observations about them and the people who live there. ...more
Mar 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
I read this probably 20 years ago. I don't remember much about the plot but I do remember easing into the story and loving the characters-wanting them to be in my life for longer than the pages of the novel. ...more
Jo Heckel
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An awesome book! A growing up story that s riveting. A must read!
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved every word of this book. A random find at the used book store turned into a tale that spoke to me. Reading it again now!
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2010
I was very excited to read this book, as I count Writing Down The Bones as one of my all time favourite books and was intrigued to read some of Goldberg's fiction, to see how she puts all those gems of writing inspiration into practice.

It's an interesting story she tells here - and I have visited New Mexico and adored it, and found the descriptions of the landscape in the novel very authentic and evocative. I found Nell/Banana Rose a bit irritating as a character though - her naivety was sometim
Apr 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is the kind of book you read in social work school, and write a paper to psychoanalyze the main character, Banana Rose. These days I think about affect regulation. Banana Rose, was an interesting character. I could see that her relationship was doomed, somehow, but not the way it ended. I think her true love was Taos. I liked her sexual poety. I liked her Jewishness and her experimental attitude towards life. Goldberg's writing was clear and smooth, gave you a sense of place from Boulder, N ...more
Sep 22, 2007 rated it liked it
I would really have preferred to give this two and a half stars, but that option isn't available. I adore Natalie's books on writing -- Wild Mind and Writing Down the Bones are staples on my shelf -- and her writing is vivid and wonderful. But she mentions writing this book in Wild Mind, I think it is, and a friend points out to her that the book has no plot. It's really loosely based on her own life, and I guess I would have had a better opinion of it had I gone into reading it that way rather ...more
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Natalie Goldberg lived in Brooklyn until she was six, when her family moved out to Farmingdale, Long Island, where her father owned the bar the Aero Tavern. From a young age, Goldberg was mad for books and reading, and especially loved Carson McCullers's The Ballad of the Sad Cafe , which she read in ninth grade. She thinks that single book led her eventually to put pen to paper when she was twe ...more

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