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4.07  ·  Rating details ·  460 ratings  ·  32 reviews
On a day like any other, Kleinzeit gets fired. Hours later, he finds himself in hospital with a pair of adventurous pyjamas and a recurring geometrical pain. Here, he falls instantly in love with a beautiful night nurse called Sister. And together they are pitched headlong into a wild and flickering world of mystery Kleinzeit.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published January 2nd 2002 by Bloomsbury (first published October 17th 1974)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  460 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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MJ Nicholls
Jul 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: merkins, novels
At last I have hobbled into my second Hoban some three years late. Zinging and stinging. Capital-O Original. On the surface level a piece of delirious absurdism where God, the Hospital, the Word, and pieces of yellow paper are allowed a voice in the narrative, but in the interstices a dark exploration of—what?—the psychology of illness (is that a thing?), fragmented mental states as a metaphor for—what?—those old shibboleths: postmodern corporatised living or the multiple painful births that mak ...more
A smalltime copywriter faces some big time challenges when he pens some advertising copy on a sheet of yellow paper in this super creative piece of multi-layered fiction. Characters include a mysterious red bearded tramp, every man's dream nurse, a hospital bed and Death. The Peloponnese wars and Orpheus and Eurydice also make an appearance.
Warning: don't read this novel if you've been experiencing any difficulties with the angle of your hypotenuse!
May 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, owned
Let's say ★★★½. Enjoyable and funny, but I never felt that connected to it. Maybe a little too much absurdity-for-absurdity's-sake for my taste. This was Hoban's second novel, though, and he was still finding his voice as a writer. Maybe I'll dig it more on a re-read. ...more
Jun 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Absurd and sad and metaphysical and zany and celebratory and affirming and confusing and understated.
Hoban draws heavily on myth and existentialist theory as well as exuberant humour and joie de vivre.
A thoroughly enlightening read.
Dead John Williams
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I first read this in 1974 when I was younger. I was so taken with it that it occupied me for a long, long time.

Today I picked it up, outside the temperature was dropping, snow was imminent and I am packing up to move house. I came across this book and sat down in front of the fire and started to read it again. After a few hours I did some more packing then sat down and finished it.

As you can see I've given it 5 stars and it obviously still impresses me no end.

It is a surreal, poetic story about
Mar 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Dan by: Ivana
Shelves: novels
It would be interesting to know how a Lacanian psychoanalyst would interpret the fictional world in which this retelling of a classical myth is set, and in which signifiers are in disorder. The protagonist, for instance, learns that he has trouble with his hypotenuse when he experiences a pain traveling from A to B; in the hospital, he meets a patient who is suffering from a condition that worsens into hendiadys. Perhaps Hoban is suggesting that in a postmodern world of alienated labor and adver ...more
Karen Massie
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my all time favourite books. I first read it when I had just left home aged 16 and I still love it just as much today. I realise everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I don't understand this need people have to over analyse the books they read. They seem to be so busy telling us what the author was obviously meaning ,and pointing out how deep and meaningful this is or is failing to be, that they seem to forget to just sit back and enjoy the book in all its charm and absurd ...more
Oct 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is my opinion, she said to God, that nobody is healthy.

Look at you, said God. Who could be healthier?

Oh, women, said Sister. I'm talking about men. One way or another they're all sick.

You really think so? said God. He rained a little harder.
What did I do wrong? How have I failed?

I can't exactly say what I mean, said Sister. It just sounds stupid. What I mean is, it isn't a matter of finding a well man, it's a matter of finding one who makes the right use of his sickness.
Terry Mark
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Most of Russell Hoban's books are pretty bonkers and this one is no exception but in amongst all that confusion there's sense and reality that shine through eventually. He is a very imaginative and unique author. ...more
Mark Vayngrib
May 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: out-there
what a wacky book. I'm amazed I read the whole thing, and I don't know who I could possibly recommend this to. Maybe Yossarian from Catch-22, if he's still alive and uses Goodreads, or whomever this Review has been licensed to. Is it a leap of faith to assume the future caters exclusively to my vanity, or is it a leap of something else?

By the way, where am I, Review asks me? I don't know, I'll let you know when I find you.

Most non-fictional people I imagine would read this and be exhausted by t
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Using the story of Orpheus and Eurydice as a backdrop for musings on the creative process, Kleinzeit is an extremely original novel. The writing is very clever, so clever that at times it becomes a bit tedious, with a few eye-roll moments such as the disclosing by the doctor-cum middle school bully that his yacht's eponym is "Atropos" she who often cuts short lives. Very Cute. Regardless of its self-indulgent moments, the book is enough of a page turner that I consumed it in two evenings after a ...more
Ruth Ashford
Apr 17, 2020 rated it liked it
I first read this book about 30 years ago and it was a revelation to me, mainly because of the stylistic device which Russell hoban uses to give inanimate objects a voice. I found it very funny at the time. The main character is a patient in a hospital with a mysterious illness. He repeatedly tries to escape, and eventually recovers. The other characters are bed, hospital, underground and sky, as well as humans. Although I still think it is original and funny, it is very dated from a female pers ...more
Chiefdonkey Bradey
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful - Orpheus and Eurydice on the Northern Line, death loping like an ape along the Embankment
Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it
You appreciate the comic take on sickness and the mixed-up narrator’s ultimate revelation inspires strength against an (unfortunately unbeatable) inevitably.
Stephen Douglas Rowland
I loved every page of this weird little book. Completely original. My first by Hoban, but I've got more on the way. ...more
Oct 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone looking for unique approaches to telling a story
I'm a Russell Hoban bias for sure, but Kleinzeit is one of my favorites and one of the more accessible of his bizarre narratives. Here Hoban tells the tale of the protagonist Kleinzeit, a middle-aged going nowhere advertisement agent whose ideas are obsolete and whose health is dwindling into a sharp pain from A to B. Fired, Kleinzeit journeys to the Hospital, where, for the first time in his life he can be a hero. Kleinzeit finds himself and his purpose in the Sister who falls madly in love wit ...more
Jul 04, 2016 rated it liked it
A hard book to rate. On the one hand, it's amusing and intriguing in its surrealism, and flows well. On the other hand, there's no payoff, no resolution; the mysterious recurring linguistic patterns and other recurring plot elements remain unexplained, when I was really hoping for a Grand Plot Twist that would make it all make sense, or at least interconnect. So it's entertaining and well-written, but ultimately it doesn't really go anywhere. ...more
Adam Stevenson
Mar 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
The first of his books I have ever read. There was a moment when a character finds music lingering in the air and goes to it with his penny whistle to liberate it - that was when I realised this book was more than authorial tricks and actually had a genuinely interesting point of view to substantiate the oddness.
May 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Hoban is the passion of the mother of one of my daughter's friends. She thrust this one on us, and, after overcoming my habitual aversion to metafiction, I really ended up loving it. Both funny and weirdly moving, and I even liked the style by the end. ...more
K.A. Laity
Nov 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I am dog-earing so many pages... this is one of the most wonderful books about the struggles involved in the writing process but without whining. Hoban's RIDDLEY WALKER is one of my all time favourite books and this one is every bit a delight. ...more
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Funny, surreal and entertaining. I'll admit I flagged a little in the middle and I have this nagging feeling - as I always do with Hoban's books - that I'm missing out on some central point due to my lack of education in areas mythological and Latinate but this was nevertheless a good read. ...more
Rachel Kowal
May 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well this was a surprise. Weird and wonderful, reminiscent of Nabokov. First morning reading this on the train, I was laughing so much that the little girl sitting in front of me said, "What's so funny?" ...more
Aug 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Allegorical misunderstanding? The topography of a writer's life, the text as refraction of experience through the lenses of culture, and with a sense of absurd humour too. An interesting read but not very affecting. ...more
Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was an interesting quick read, Hoban offers come interesting ideas on the creative processes of writes and the relation between them and their muse, though in a very abstract way. the only down side is how esoteric the book is at times.
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
I liked some aspects of this book, particularly the personification of things, but I sort of felt like I was missing something and that maybe, for example, if I had dropped some acid the day before reading this, that it would have made a lot more sense and I may have totally "gotten" it. ...more
Jul 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2010
Amazing book. My first Russell Hoban book and a wonderful introduction. I have now got a serious case of "Boy I wish my brain worked like that too". ...more
Jun 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Moody, dreamy little book. Grows on you. Prose reminded me occasionally of Nausea ...more
Christopher Lynnes
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
Wait...what??? This is the same author as Bread and Jam for Frances??? I think my head is going to explode.
Conor Bateman
Starts strong, witty, puncy, different. Peters out quite signifcantly in the final third of the book, mostly meaningless absurdity takes hold.
Nov 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to carmen! by: vwoo
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Russell Conwell Hoban was an American expatriate writer. His works span many genres, including fantasy, science fiction, mainstream fiction, magical realism, poetry, and children's books. He lived in London, England, from 1969 until his death. (Wikipedia) ...more

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