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Fugitive Pieces
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Archive Read > Archive read May 14 Fugitive Pieces

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message 1: by Penny (last edited May 01, 2014 11:24AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Penny | 680 comments Mod
This book won the award in 1997 - its a new author to me - but will add to my challenge to read all the winners!


Penny | 680 comments Mod
here's the book's blurb:-

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year; Winner of the Lannan Literary Fiction Award; Winner of the Guardian Fiction Award.

In 1940 a boy bursts from the mud of a war-torn Polish city, where he has buried himself to hide from the soldiers who murdered his family. His name is Jakob Beer. He is only seven years old. And although by all rights he should have shared the fate of the other Jews in his village, he has not only survived but been rescued by a Greek geologist, who does not recognize the boy as human until he begins to cry.

With this electrifying image, Anne Michaels ushers us into her rapturously acclaimed novel of loss, memory, history, and redemption. As Michaels follows Jakob across two continents, she lets us witness his transformation from a half-wild casualty of the Holocaust to an artist who extracts meaning from its abyss. Filled with mysterious symmetries and rendered in heart-stopping prose, Fugitive Pieces is a triumphant work, a book that should not so much be read as it should be surrendered to.


message 3: by Val (last edited May 06, 2014 01:12PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val The author is new to me as well.
I have started the book, but have not got very far yet.
The story is told in fragments and impressions, which is a style I sometimes find a bit annoying. This one is written like poetry and I am liking it so far.


Penny | 680 comments Mod
still waiting for my library copy! you are always ahead of me Val!


message 5: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val I already had this one on my kindle, Penny.


Penny | 680 comments Mod
I finished this one - what did you all make of it ? I found it exquisite in parts. The writing is very distanced though - maybe due to the subject matter. I loved the earlier parts of the book following Jakob as a child and being rescued by Athos. Unfortunately I found as it went on it lost its way until finally I reached a section called 'the drowned city' where suddenly the first person narrative is not who used to be the first person narrator - and we are introduced to new characters who connect but I couldn't see how to Jakob. I went back over it again and again and couldn't understand why we should suddenly be interested in Ben and Naomi who bear only a slight connection to Jakob and Athos and who arrive on page 201 which is in the last quarter of the book. At this point it all began to fall apart for me - when Ben ends up in Athos' family's house in Greece I almost threw up my hands ! I also struggled with the long passages of 'thought' on the nature of memory, the layout of a city, the geology of a river - I got the analogies etc but they were just too long and too common for me.
anyone else?


message 7: by Val (last edited May 27, 2014 01:03AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val Penny wrote: "I went back over it again and again and couldn't understand why we should suddenly be interested in Ben and Naomi who bear only a slight connection to Jakob and Athos and who arrive on page 201 which is in the last quarter of the book."

I did not think the change of narrator worked very well either, so it fell apart somewhat at the end for me too. Your comment sums up the problem well.

I did like the earlier part of the book a lot. All the 'thought' diversions suited the memoir of a poet, with impressions, memories and feelings feeding in to how he might tell his story. The writing is beautiful, but it does need to fit the story as well and it only suits the first part.


Penny | 680 comments Mod
Val wrote: "Penny wrote: "I went back over it again and again and couldn't understand why we should suddenly be interested in Ben and Naomi who bear only a slight connection to Jakob and Athos and who arrive o..."

good to know it wasn't only me! I loved the first part but even now still don't get the last part!


Jessica Haider (jessicahaider) | 155 comments Mod
I'm totally behind the times, but just wanted to pop into this thread (without reading any of the prior posts) to say that I just started reading this book. I will check back in once I've made some progress.


Penny | 680 comments Mod
great to hear from you Jessica - would love to hear your comments - hope your little ones are doing well and you are enjoying them!


Jessica Haider (jessicahaider) | 155 comments Mod
Thank you. My two little boys are doing great. We just got home from a brief getaway to the mountains.

I should be finishing up Fugitive Pieces in the next day or so. I find the writing to be quite lovely.


Penny | 680 comments Mod
Jessica wrote: "Thank you. My two little boys are doing great. We just got home from a brief getaway to the mountains.

I should be finishing up Fugitive Pieces in the next day or so. I find the writing to be qui..."


Yes - in parts there was a delicacy to the observations of the relationship between Athos and Jacob that was very touching. It is understated but effective.


Jessica Haider (jessicahaider) | 155 comments Mod
I finished the book. Like others in the thread I enjoyed it up until the change in narrator at which point I pretty much had to force myself to finish the book.


message 14: by JenniferD (last edited Jun 29, 2014 03:38PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

JenniferD (booktrovert) | 343 comments it's been a long time since i last read this novel, but i am a fan! i think i have actually read it 3 times? once when it first came out, and then with two different book groups. unfortunately my memory is terrible so i can't speak to specifics in the story since it's been too long. :/

but, one of the things i love about this book is how it evoked place so strongly. the settings were all so vivid, and it was very easy to picture or imagine what michaels was writing about. i think, too, her strength as a poet came through in her fiction prose.

i feel as though there are a lot of layers to this novel. and i believe i got more out of it on the re-reads. but...i liked it very much from the first reading, so was thrilled it held up for me on re-reads.

has anyone seen the film adaptation? (i have not. yet.)


Penny | 680 comments Mod
Jennifer wrote: "it's been a long time since i last read this novel, but i am a fan! i think i have actually read it 3 times? once when it first came out, and then with two different book groups. unfortunately my ..."

I didnt know there was a film. I'm glad to hear others thought similar to me - that the narrator change altered the book immensely. I was so taken up in the earlier story and found the writing truly wonderful - and then it all changed around!! Can you remember Jennifer if you felt differently about it having read it more than once? I read Possession years ago and absolutely adored it. I read it again about a year back and found it no where near as good! Maybe I have changed so much rather than the book!


message 16: by Penny (last edited Jul 03, 2014 11:53AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Penny | 680 comments Mod
Jessica wrote: "Thank you. My two little boys are doing great. We just got home from a brief getaway to the mountains.

I should be finishing up Fugitive Pieces in the next day or so. I find the writing to be qui..."


well done thoughfor making it through - you would have laughed if you could have seen me struggling through Alif the Unseen - I really would have just stopped if it hadnt been a group read. All my easy read escapist crime novels kept calling to me - but I made it through!!!!!


JenniferD (booktrovert) | 343 comments Penny wrote: "Can you remember Jennifer if you felt differently about it having read it more than once?..."

yes, in my earlier post, i mentioned i feel as though i got more out of it with each re-read, because i feel it is a rather layered story (though i really liked it on initial read).


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