Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Absolutely satisfying.6 Sept. 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
At the request of a blind woman with whom he has just spent the night, Rozanov, poet and improvisatore, weaves an eloquent tale on the theme of improvisation itself -- the Armenian peak of Ararat a recurring vision in his impromptu story. Any description will pale beside Thomas's brilliant unfurling of poetry and erotica; it simply must be read.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Innovative structure can't carry this book10 July 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
It is either incredibly fit for a D.M. Thomas novel or just plain lazy to write a review of a review as a review. But the only other Amazon reviewer of this book provides a good synopsis of the novel: "At the request of a blind woman with whom he has just spent the night, Rozanov, poet and improvisatore, weaves an eloquent tale on the theme of improvisation itself" (from "Absolutely satisfying," an Amazon review by sam terry gardner).
One thing to add, however, is that the "eloquent tale" itself contains many eloquent tales. Instead of a simple frame (as in Ethan Frome) or even a slightly more complicated one (as in Wuthering Heights), D.M. Thomas adds frame within frame within frame. The storyteller tells a story about a storyteller telling a story about a storyteller telling a story about a storyteller telling a story....until the reader loses count of the layers.
While this is certainly a creative structure for a novel, it doesn't quite work here. As the stories progress, they become fragments of stories. While this could be symbolic or otherwise purposeful, it reads more like several ideas for several novels that never really took off, all of them meandering for a bit and then trailing off, held together only by this final novel's structure.
"Any description will pale beside Thomas's brilliant unfurling of poetry and erotica; it simply must be read." So continues sam terry gardner later in his review. D.M. Thomas is a fabulous writer. His prose and poetry in Ararat are as good as ever in some patches of the book, but the work is inconsistent overall, especially as compared to his other work. If you want a novel that truly meets gardner's description of a "brilliant unfurling of poetry and erotica," seek out Thomas' The White Hotel. In that earlier novel, he was at least as imaginative in his structure, but everything came together as one consistently excellent whole. Unfortunately, it may be his near total success in that novel which makes this later work pale in comparison.