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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
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Diane  | 2042 comments Rating: 4 Stars
Read June-October 2016

I had wanted to read this book forever, especially since it is popular in crossword puzzle clues (strange, huh?). It was quite good. It is the fictional memoir of the title character. The writing is intelligent and quite funny. There are a surprising number of sexual innuendos and much off-color humor. It is very hard to believe that this book was written 250 years ago. He throws out all the normal conventions of plot and organization, yet it works, since his writing is so entertaining. Although very long, it was intended by the author to be much longer. He, unfortunately, passed away before he could add the remaining volumes.


Dree | 243 comments 3 stars

Phew! This book is funny, absurd, and exhausting. And has one of the best last lines ever--but did it need 600 pages to get there?

There is so much going on in this novel, yet there is also very little. Tristram isn't even born until well into the book. His father Walter, his mother, his Uncle Toby (who really seems to be the main character), Toby's assistant/corporal Trim, Yorick, Dr Slop, Susanna, the Widow Waldman, Bridget, Obadiah. The war injuries, the mocked up towns in the garden, the doctor vs the midwife, Tristram's broken nose and wrong name, the clothing, the travel in France. Just everything.

This is definitely dated based on the number of footnotes needed to explain people/books/events that we today don't know anything about. This makes it somewhat hard to read, as I am sure there are a lot of contextual jokes that even a footnote cannot explain. But this is a very unusual book. Certainly for its time, but also for today.

But I am glad to be done.


message 3: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Dawn | 1090 comments Finished this month for my tbr, and really enjoyed it and gave it 4 stars. The premise of "guy who rambles so much almost no plot happens" could have really gone the other way in terms of being an engaging and memorable listen, but this book was really masterfully handled.

The off colour humor, kind of bizarre perspective Tristram has about different topics, and just the absurdity of how he gets sidetracked from his life story into something completely different(like he ends up talking about siege warfare and the Austro-Hungarian Empire when he starts talking about how he thinks he became dislodged from his mother's uterus as a fetus is just so out of left field and genuinely funny).

The fact that he has a typo of a name essentially and his defining feature is a messed up nose also plays into the absurdity of the book and the notion of comical failure that defines the book.

The audiobook version I listened to was also great. It feature a sped up fast-forward voice when rambling footnotes occurred, some of his ramblings about religion and Latin were accompanied by music and chanting- it was a lot of fun.

Overall it was a great send-up of the overly verbose and the weird way the distracting brain works. I also died at the fact he isn't even born until volume 3 of his life story.


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