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Here Is Where We Meet

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,292 ratings  ·  147 reviews
Booker Prize-winning author John Berger, one of the most widely admired writers of our time, returns us to the captivating play and narrative allure of his previous novels-G. and Pig Earth among them-with a shimmering fiction drawn from chapters of his own life.

One hot afternoon in Lisbon, the narrator finds his long-dead mother seated on a park bench. "The dead don't stay
Paperback, 237 pages
Published August 8th 2006 by Vintage (first published 2005)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  1,292 ratings  ·  147 reviews

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lori light
Aug 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: myfavorites
this is a beautiful, beautiful book. john berger has the ability to paint a beautiful picture with his words. my words will never do it justice. seriously one of the best books i've ever read. it's just beautiful.

my favorite quotes:
"If you have to cry, he said, and sometimes you can't help it, if you have to cry, cry afterwards, never during! Remember this. Unless you're with those who love you, only those who love you, and in that case you're already lucky, for there are never many who love yo
Paul Secor
Oct 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-fiction
Billed as "A Fiction" on the cover, Here Is Where We Meet is a mixture of memories, ideas, and experiences with people the author has met in different places and at different times. The book begins with the narrator meeting his mother, who has been dead for 15 years, in Lisbon. She tells him to "do us (the dead) the courtesy of noticing us." From there, the book entails a visit to Geneva to meet with his daughter to visit Jorge Luis Borges' grave site; a visit to an old art school classmate who ...more
Apr 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: treasure
Reading this was like eating a perfectly ripe mango while crying.
Jan 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: own, contemporary, 3-star
"The number of lives that enter our own is incalculable."

This reads like a dream, only it is impeccably lucid. The gears of reality work its wonders in subtly blending it in the seemingly ceaseless moments of rendezvous and longing with the past; with it are people John has lost in many, many ways. ** "Life depends upon finding cover. Everything hides. What has vanished has gone into hiding. An absence — as after the departure of the dead — is felt as a loss but not as an abandonment. The dead a
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So beautiful.
Nov 14, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 21st-century, british
This rates, for me, somewhere between "just OK" and "better than "OK", so perhaps a 2 and 3/4 rating. Although the concept is immensely seductive -- the idea of meeting the beloved dead in places across the globe, and having a conversation with them once again -- the "truth" of it is not all that engaging.

In engaging in the delightful fantasy that something like this might be truly possible, I would find myself asking much more considered questions; would find myself expressing all the things I
Oct 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those with a conscious.
Shelves: fiction
John Berger is an English speaking man who speaks a universal language. His books are like music, with intros, crescendos, choruses and bridges. His prose moves with the promise that every word is written with perfect intent. Often times it felt as though a relative were telling me story of their past and that there was a grand moral lesson to be learned. The book is less about a blatant narrative and more about the underlying narrative of life, not bound by time, history, borders, or geology. I ...more
Lazarus P Badpenny Esq
Ranging across Europe with settings in Lisbon, Krakow, London and elsewhere these stories recount the narrator’s meetings with the dead of his past. Married to this theme of movement via time and place is that of migrant populations, propelled by economic necessity or other kinds of searching. The intellectual nomadism of Berger’s novel is conveyed through writing that is both poignant and deeply sensual.
Elizabeth Chorney-Booth
This was a poetic and beautiful book, but I always find impressionistic books like this a bit hard to get through. Some chapters (essays?) were absolutely breathtaking though and now I just want to absorb more of Berger's beautiful world view. ...more
Oct 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
The power and the poetry of this novel (which can as easily be classified as a memoir, probably) sneaks up on you, and it's the kind of novel that will undoubtedly reward re-readings. It's retrospective travel literature of the most touching order, tender ghost stories of love and compassion, and is filled throughout with Berger's trademark power of visual observation, his awareness of the poetry of the everyday.

"Life depends on finding cover," the narrator writes. "Everything hides. What has va
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Actually 4.5 stars. I just so relished the language and the interesting storyline
Curtis Steele
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I found this book by prowling the stacks at our public library 6 years ago. I was spellbound by the first story and continued to read thinking it was a novel, which in a postmodern way it is. I have reread it five more times and I may well continue to do so. I had been unfamiliar with John Berger and have gone to read everything has written or has been written about him. If I was marooned with only one book, this the one I’d choose.
Debbie Robson
Feb 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bookmarks Magazine

Though critics can't agree exactly what genre Berger is working in ("autobiographical fiction, fictional autobiography, or maybe a hybrid of breviary, consecration, and ancestor worship," says Harper's), the praise for his writing comes so close to unanimity that classification seems beside the point. It's one thing to earn artistic freedom, something this British author has done with classic works of fiction (the trilogy Into Their Labors) and art criticism (About Looking and Ways of Seeing); i

Philip Shade
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
A book of of life, learning, love, loss, leaving, lament, even lepidopterists.

"Ways of Seeing," a book and series that has been a life-long inspiration, and before his death, was all I had known John Berger for. "Here is Where We Meet" is his first fiction I've read, and includes much of the challenging ways of viewing the world that made "Ways of Seeing" such a ground breaking work. The story crosses from England to Poland, from friends to lovers, from birth to death, reminiscing and peering f
May 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
what a unique book. it was unlike anything i have ever read that i can think of. its a fiction but feels like a memoir of sorts. its not very long but it took me forever to read. certain parts i found very enjoyable and well written and insightful without being pretentious or pedantic...those parts were great...and few. for most of it...i really had no idea what berger was trying to say or what was even really happening plot wise unless i read back to see where I was in the book. I feel bad givi ...more
Tom Hughes
Jun 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bests
Brilliant. Probably my favorite and most-read book ever - poetic and anecdotal, dreamy and so alive. Berger is one of those dream-dinner-guests for me. I visited the aqueduct in Lisbon to walk where they did in the story. An ideal companion to serious thinking and walking.
Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books of all time, with one of the greatest openings in English literature. A gem.
John Treat
Dec 05, 2020 rated it liked it
I had mixed and strong reactions to Berger’s Here Is Where We Meet, which in the interests of encouraging open and free debate in the days to follow I probably should reveal only slowly, or even not at all. But I can’t. When I started the book, I thought: oh god no, yet another jaded Englishman’s discovery of southern Europe (this reaction commenced with his description of Lisbon as “hot” and “where Africa begins,” and intensified once he tells us Lisbon “is a special stopover for the dead”). I ...more
Mar 10, 2021 rated it liked it
This is a strange book, a good book, a book that dares to fail in many places, a book that's trying to get away from the author's previous highly political charged work and instead get at something deeper, something about the meaning of life. It's also very much an old man's book. It's a book about doddering. A book where there are long asides that don't really have much to say. And like an old man's talk, some of these are powerful and meaningful, while others are a real chore to get through. B ...more
May 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is an old people’s book, or at least a book for a reader looking back on his or her life, resurrecting memories and seeking connections with people from the past. Berger was nearly eighty when he wrote it, and he imagines encounters and conversations with his mother, teachers and old lovers, people long dead. He seemed to be questioning how he came to be the person he is, what were the influences and turning points that led to the present. This question strongly appeals to me personally, bu ...more
Jennifer O'Kelly
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't sure whether to give this book a 4 or 5 star review, until it settled on me how much Berger accomplished exactly what he set out to do with this piece of writing. Subtle and beautiful, very much like life, or a life, and one to dip back into, beginning from any page.

"I risk to write nonsense these days.
Just write down what you find.
I'll never know what I've found.
No, you'll never know. All you have to know is whether you're lying or whether you're trying to tell the truth, you can't aff
Robert Morgan Fisher
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This stands alongside my favorite short story collections. A painter as well as a writer, Berger is an absolute master of creating a profound, detailed picture in the reader's mind using as few words as possible. That's the whole ballgame in writing. Can't remember when I read a collection of stories so infused with joy and delight without ever seeming precious or banal. He goes places most writers are afraid to and pulls off the impossible. Stunning. ...more
Linda Franklin
Feb 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Oh, go ahead, Linda and give it five stars. *****
It's a strange story that could occur anywhere and to anyone with age to them. Yes, the "narrator finds his long-dead mother seated on a park bench"...and that allows Berger to tell many stories because the narrator's mother, as well as others you know are or aren't there, tell stories you couldn't tell without them. For me there's a few cave art, rivers, rocks, and trees.
~ Linda Campbell Franklin
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
John Berger's writing took me back to the atmosphere of Lisbon, the unmatchable closeness one has with one's fellow art school students and gave me faith that our memories of food, travel, art and lost loved ones carry along with us into the present.
A really unusual and effective approach to telling memories. Place is as present as people in these pieces that come together to give a taste of the man and his life. Some parts grabbed me more than others, but none were dull.
Joy Chen
Don’t know how to rate this book, because it’s too deep for me. There were so many names of cities, histories I were not familiar with, so it’s kind of frustrating of reading it. But except that, some of contents were touching.
Jan 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Beaut first chapter about Lisbon, and meeting the dead in different landmarks, that I read just before visiting Lisbon. A much more poetic intro than lonely planet or hop on hop off buses. Reflective and occasionally insightful Berger.
John Nasaye
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I did enjoy reading this book, which is actually a collection of stories that weave into each other. It's not the most pacy or intriguing read, but of you appreciate form and style then you'll definitely enjoy it. ...more
Feb 01, 2020 rated it liked it
John meets his mother his Lisbon and spends time with her there 10 years after her death. It brings to mind stories about others in his life, stories that can bring them to life too -- some more interesting than others.
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John Peter Berger was an English art critic, novelist, painter and author. His novel G. won the 1972 Booker Prize, and his essay on art criticism Ways of Seeing, written as an accompaniment to a BBC series, is often used as a college text.

Later he was self exiled to continental Europe, living between the french Alps in summer and the suburbs of Paris in winter. Since then, his production has incre

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“I was scared of one thing after another. I still am.
Naturally. How could it be otherwise? You can either be fearless or you can be free, you can’t be both.”
“Everything in life, is a question of drawing a life, John, and you have to decide for yourself where to draw it. You cant draw it for others. You can try, of course, but it doesn't work. People obeying rules laid down my somebody else is not the same thing as respecting life. And if you want to respect life, you have to draw a line.” 25 likes
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