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The Same River Twice

3.15  ·  Rating details ·  251 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
When Odile Mével, a French clothing designer, agrees to smuggle ceremonial May Day banners out of the former Soviet Union, she thinks she’s trading a few days’ inconvenience for a quick thirty thousand francs. Yet when she returns home to Paris to deliver the contraband to Turner, the American art expert behind this scheme, her fellow courier (previously a stranger) has di ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2010)
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Michael May
I read The Same River Twice because of something the author Ted Mooney said in an interview on the June 4, 2010 New York Times Book Review podcast: "Every second of every day, people believe, often in perfectly good faith, that they're doing one thing when they're actually doing something completely different, and this is what I find to be the true poignancy of being a human. I mean, it's tragic, it's comic, and in its own peculiar way, I mean I'm a human, too, it's beautiful."

Too bad there's mo
Oct 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: francophiles
Shelves: fiction
Readers seeking a strong female role model might well look here and then -- have second thoughts. On the one hand, Odile is intelligent and capable, elegant, charming, and a seemingly effortless hostess who can cook a lovely supper of lamb while herself adhering to her newly adopted vegetarian diet. On the other, her actions reflect a masculine sense of purpose. As her husband Max reflects: “But amid all this circular thinking, useless and demeaning, Max knew one thing to be unquestionably true: ...more
Sep 23, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For an alleged "literary thriller," this book doesn't do either genre much justice. It's both ponderous and bloated in the style of bad literary novels, and not much fun, which is something you'd hope for in a thriller. Rather, it seems to have embraced the worst aspects of both, despite a prose style that is pretty sturdy and elegant, if a little too mannered. The problem is more what's being said (or not said), not how the author says it.

The NY Times Book Review praised this book to high heave
Jul 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers who long for a reawakening, in every sense
Recommended to John by: me. myself, & I
Mooney has come up w/ some haunting disturbances in all his three novels. What arrests our attention is always the amorous connection: the girl who takes a dolphin for her lover in EASY TRAVEL TO OTHER PLANETS, in the mid-70s, & ten years later the affair initiated just as the whole world’s about to fry, in TRAFFIC & LAUGHTER. Now, in THE SAME RIVER TWICE, once again it’s love that renders things spooky — & us too, afloat on superlunary narrative. Otherwise, as a number of the GR rev ...more
Jan 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read a glowing review in the NYT Book Review, and having just been to Paris for the first time last fall, I was excited about getting Ted Mooney's new novel "The Same River Twice" from the library. It is extolled as a "literary thriller," and Mooney is a master wordsmith. Some of his descriptions are breathtaking.

I jumped into this book and found myself thoroughly immersed in the multifaceted plot and characters. A French woman, a dress designer, is paid as a courier to bring some histor
Jul 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ted Mooney’s The Same River Twice is like a high-speed Maserati ride through the nightime streets of Paris: exhilarating and dangerous. The bargain with literary thrill rides is based on how far from reality the author is willing to go before all plausibility is lost. In The Same River Twice, Mooney takes us to the edge, and back.

In this contemporary mystery, Mooney casts his story with a collection of exotiques, impossibly beautiful, intelligent and morally ambiguous characters that assume the
Jun 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeff T.
May 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Is escape possible, and what do endings have to do with what comes before? Is it possible to experience something (for) the first time? The less said about the plot, the better. Let it suffice to say that this book lives up to the promise of Mooney's first book, Easy Travel to Other Planets, while making it clear how he was headed here with his last two books.
Jun 25, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the writing but I despised nearly all of the characters and thought the plot was ridiculous and just didn't make sense.
Dec 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to MNLO by:
Like a film noir, so incredibly stunning that the twirling and twisting plot lines are sometimes nothing more than bystanders.
Tim Lepczyk
The Same River Twice by Ted Mooney begs you to put it down.  It's a convoluted plot that relies on the reader not really questioning how interconnected all of these people and events are, but to merely accept them and trust as the main characters Odile and Max trust in each other.  What spurs the reader to continue are the characters, even though they are clunky fixtures banging around Paris who never truly become believable.  It's hard to take a character named Groot very seriously, especiall ...more
Mar 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a backlog of books to "review" here on Goodreads and the reason for that is this book; it caused my judgmental flow to clog up. The contradictory qualities of this book made it not easy to review; I postponed and visited the scene and few times trying to see an angle which would in one push dislodge the trunks bobbing there in an impasse.

I appreciated the clarity and visual vivacity of the prose; it has elegance and restraint. I also appreciated the settings, first in Moscow, then, for th
Oct 10, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. From the moment I began to read this book, I couldn't wait to finish it. Not because it was enthralling, but because it was dull and uninteresting. It's a story (maybe it's supposed to be a thriller) about some Parisians who get caught up in Russian mafia hijinks. Sounds fun, I know, but it isn't. I was hoping that Odile, the closest thing in the book to a protagonist, might die early on so that we could focus on a character with some apparent psychological motivation, but no luck. Sometime ...more
The writing was good quality and the execution of idea was well done, but the problem here is the idea. It itself did not invite an overtly interesting plot, and the ending felt rushed, like the author thought "I need to get this done in x pages and I don't have enough pages left". overall, the first half of the boom didn't really feel necessary, and the entire book felt like it was setting up, creating background, for the last 15 or so chapters. too much time was spent focusing on how Theirry w ...more
Corinna Lewis
fun characters, including Paris and houseboat. satisfying pace with fast thriller chop and more flowing character development. I agree with this review:
To shape the everyday happenings of the world into a good story — isn’t that what novelists are supposed to do best? Yet readers must often choose between “literary fiction,” understood to be works of well-written but meandering prose about the “real world” of human relationships, and “commercial fiction,” fast-paced novels in which plot is every
Bruce MacBain
Oct 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I noticed, to my surprise, that are seven different books, by different authors, all with this title. If refers, of course, to the maxim of early Greek philosophy (I don't remember off hand which of the presocratics said it) that you can't step into the same river twice. In other words, everything is in flux. In the case of this novel, a literary thriller set in Paris, New York, and Moscow, the title--though never precisely explained--seems appropriate. The plot, on the surface level, is satisfy ...more
Jun 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, mystery
I can't tell if this novel was brilliant or completely crazy, but I'm leaning towards the former. The plot seems almost like a fever dream, especially towards the end -- it's disjointed and hazy, but in some ways completely inevitable. Which, I suppose, is kind of the point.

I'm being very vague and mysterious here, but I don't want to give anything away. You can read a plot summary in lots of places, so I won't get into that, except to say that the plot is really only the beginning of the book.
Reading this book felt like rushing through a dream: The characters are not fully formed, the settings and situations are never quite right, but it was the mood that mattered. Two twisting plots circled each other like noir movies spliced together, events a blur, giving the constant sense that I should be fighting for more control. But things moved so quickly I never got the chance.

Like his characters, we're to accept events as they come, and react emotionally. The book's power comes from these
Art theft brings together a documentary film maker and some Russian mobsters in modern-day Paris. Loved the detail about Paris. The story is character driven, full of close examinations about relationships. It didn’t move really fast, but it did build enough suspense for me to worry that a character I liked would get bumped off. I would read more by this author.

[now some spoilers:]

As it turns out, the good guy does a bad thing (and gets away with it, easy-peasy), the woman I disliked also ends
Lorrea - WhatChaReadin'?
I decided to read this book, at the suggestion of someone else that this was a page-turner. I love a good page-turner. Well, they were right, I was certainly turning the pages, but only to find out if anything interesting was going to happen. Or to find out if the action was going to continue. It seemed as if the author kept building up different scenes only to have them fizzle out. Girl gets snatched up by crazy goons and then they just let her go... I was expecting more from this book, but it ...more
Jul 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I read a lot, normally fast paced thrillers. This is different but something about it grabbed my attention. The descriptive narrative sections are really evocative. Chracters are beautifully drawn. Interspersed are sections of shocking violence. There is an elegance here. If you are a fan of Nick Roegs film 'Dont Look Now', read this book.

Be prepared to take a bit of time its not a 2 day holiday thriller ...
Kristen Schrader (Wenke)
I honestly didn't even finish this one. I got about 3/4 of the way through and asked myself, "What is this book even about?"

Smuggled Russian flags, art forgery, unauthorized movie recuts, a teenage girl who apparently sees the future, anarchists living next door who want to blow up a prison, affairs, a documentary about a boat, stem cell research...

Life's too short to waste on unfocused, rambling books.

Excuse me while I take some Tylenol. Trying to finish this one gave me a headache.
Oct 12, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful losers in Paris.

For some reason, this book reminded me of Paul Bowles' The Sheltering Sky, but since it has been some time since I read that, I don't know why.

I couldn't figure out when this book took place. It had a moody '40s movie flle about it. They used cel phones, but the currency was Francs not Euros. Maybe that was intentional.

Only an OK read that got better reviews than I thought it deserved.
Anne Van
No lack of action and plot in this thriller set in Paris, but not a lot of ideas. I liked reading this after "Disgrace", a book with just the reverse. One of the main characters is a film-maker who is shooting a film which features several of the other main characters, interesting details and maybe that's the key to this book. That it's cinematic is its technique, lots of jump cutting, looking at the surface of things, letting the meaning come from the sum of many small angles?
Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The writing was beautiful, but I found the story both preposterous and uninteresting. I neither cared about the characters nor did I find their constant existential realizations charming or believable. There was a Buddhist theme to this book which was cool, but not enough for me to have enjoyed the reading experience. A disappointment for such a highly reviewed book.
Jun 27, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
I found this book very compelling in terms of character, plot and setting. It was fun to match what I remembered from my brief visit in Paris to the locations in the book. What I found most intriguing about the novel was the relationship between the two protagonists. I kept asking myself "is this a typical French marriage?"
Nick Duretta
This one had a lot of promise...interesting characters, seductive Parisian setting, some baffling intrigue, and good, crisp writing. But the author doesn't know when to stop and how to tie it all together. Too many characters, too many puzzling subplots, too many bizarre motivations, and a very unsatisfying denouement. Not worth the time.
Lois Lewandowski
A very different, mesmerizing look at morality. What is right or wrong?
This is a good book for those who love Paris, art, intrigue, sex and can handle an end that doesn't satisfy. But that is, after all, the existential way.
Jul 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
I think 2.5 stars would be more appropriate. I enjoyed the book while I was reading it as it made me dream of eating croissant in Paris. But the ending disappointed me and the more we talked about it the more things I realize annoyed me.
Feb 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, crime, thriller
This book turned out better than I expected. It's one of those books that could easily be turned into a movie, with hardly any dialogue changes.
It took a while for the story to get rolling. Eventually the various plots interwine and become one at the climax of the book.

A well written novel.
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Like most fiction writers, I write to *discover* what I think, not to to report on what I already know.
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