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Blind Date Paperback – 12 Jan 1979

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First Sentence
When he was a schoolboy, George Levanter had learned a convenient routine: a four-hour sleep in the afternoon enabled him to remain mentally and physically active until the early dawn, when he would again go to sleep for four hours and wake ready for the day. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 14 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By D. Blankenship - Published on
Format: Paperback
Kosinski has always been one of my favorite authors since I started reading him in the mid 1970s. This work, like most of his books (A Painted Bird comes to mind), are the type that will stick with you long after you complete the last chapter. This particular book, Blind Date is a series of events from one man's life. It takes us around the world and explores events that, while ugly at times, never-the-less need to be examined now and again. This life, as represented by the main character, is not one that the ordinary person will ever witness, but it is written in a fashion that is almost hypnotic. Our main character, like all of us, is made up of both good and evil. Kosinski merely enhances the good and bad acts and gives us quite a griping collection of small stories. Some of the subject matter, such as rape, incest, murder, etc. are rather distasteful, to say the least, but the author is able to pull it off.

I have to agree with the suggestion of another reviewer here when he suggested you THINK while reading this book. I say this, if for no other reason, than you are reading some pretty good writing. This is a well done work. Now I doubt if this one will fit the taste of everyone (my wife hated it), but it is a work that you should at least give a chance. As pointed out by yet another reviewer, part of this tale is fiction, part is semi-autobiographical. This is quite fascinating.

All in all, I do recommend this one. I have read it several times over the years (just finished another reading) and it has aged well and is certainly worth the time and effort. I am glad it is still in print. It is one of those books that sort of define an era in our history, both physical and literary, and deserves to be around for a bit.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
LIke "Cockpit" in tone and plot, but a much more ambiguous hero 26 Oct. 2012
By Roger Leatherwood Brown - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Very much similar to the author's previous "Cockpit," this book also follows an East European figure of uncertain employ and motivation, as he gets involved in jetsetters, seems to commit crimes of a political nature and suggests he is an undercover agent working for larger and unknown political forces, although he is presented as an "international investor."

He seems to invest in people's desires to court chance and fate, and wanders from incident to incident. The book is filled with a seemingly random series of crimes, sexual liaisons, and intrigue. Many of them to hinge upon unforeseen results such as when improves the speech text of the wife of a foreign official in order to have political prisoners released, only to find that the speechwriter was tortured and placed in solitary confinement afterward. He befriends a promiscuous divorcee in a small town filled with resentful small-town people and then is forced to stay to testify of her infidelity when he is threatened to be framed for a murder. His baggage delays a visit to LA and he misses being at the scene of a crime in which he likely would have been killed as well. He commits murder a couple times in the book, and they are of a political nature, including a rigged ski lift in which he barely feels the affects moments after they die, and later kills a NY clerk who is taping traveling diplomats with a sword and hammer in a bathhouse. He gets away without a second thought, saying the memories are like "old Polaroid snapshots; no negative, photographer unknown, camera thrown away."

Yet he shows compassion for the many women he meets, testing the relationships as to who depends upon who, who is "in charge" emotionally or financially. He meets women he thought he knew after many years, and becomes obsessed with women he can never know. In one case she refuses to reveal anything about herself to him (Serena) which he agrees to, relying on chance when she will or will not call on him.

Unlike "Cockpit" however the character of George Levanter is not in complete control of his surroundings or actions. He is constantly surprised by what transpires out of his control, and for every "success" at doing something, whether legal or a sexual conquest, the people around him surprise or disappoint him. The meetings are random and unpredictable, like "blind dates" he says.

The book seems to circle around the concept of pre-determination without finally stating or exploring it beyond a series of well-written and fascinating contrasting experiences, barely connected. He seems to barely learn anything, simply experience.

The tone is pure Kosinski, with sharp and minimalist writing but with great detail, a smattering of violence and sex and a determined reluctance to inner monologs. Also, this book seems to foreground the shifting identity of Kosinski's fiction, and his role within it. The famous philosopher Jacques Monod (who was a friend of JK) appears here, at a scene at Cannes, where Kosinski apparently was with him. There is also a barely fictionalized version of the Sharon Tate murders and the incident in which Kosinski claimed he would have been there but his luggage went missing for a day and he was delayed in NY. There is also many scenes on Swiss ski slopes where Kosinski was known to spend a lot of time as well as a marriage by the lead character (Levanter) of a very rich heiress who proceeds to get sick and die, similar to Kosinski's first marriage, bringing up a discussion of whether a man of low means should be supported or "kept" by his rich wife. (This was apparently very much a topic in Kosinski's life and a version of this dilemma occurs earlier in the book with another couple as well.)

What happened to Kosinski and what's happening to the characters is always a shifting question in his work. What is fiction and what actually happened?

The book is also obsessed with identity. There is a certain amount of lip service paid to whether he is defining himself by what he tries to do or how people treat him, whether he is in charge of his own fate, or the girl is, whether he can predict outcomes of violent or politically motivated incidents, or if he must try to enjoy what happens to him without asking questions.

He does not ask many questions. The shifts from violent murders to sexual conquests to explorations of class in jet-set European settings builds a compelling thematic read that does not seem able (or even willing) to resolve its concerns. It is finally a looser, troubling, fascinating piece that advances the (well-written) excesses of "Cockpit" to actually question why things happen and how much or if it matters.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful-Ugly 18 May 2000
By R. Armstrong - Published on
Format: Paperback
Sex, terrorism, incest, mass murder, betrayal, rape, prostitution. Somehow, Kosinski is able to show us the worst aspects of humanity and get us to completely accept them, even embrace them. The story is episodic. Through those episodes, Kosinski shows us something very like real life. It's more exciting than many people's lives, but there's no grand plan, no overreaching narrative arc. To paraphrase the Simpsons, it's just a bunch of stuff that happened, but it certainly was a very interesting read.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Dangerous beautiful, descraceful and Darling. 28 Jun. 2003
By Ernest Boehm - Published on
Format: Paperback
Read Blind Date by Jerzy N. Kosinski
The only the real life of Kosinski is as strange as his fiction.
And his fiction is strange yet utterly plausible in the mind of the reader.
I liked it, the main character is capable of quite morally good things as well as dark dangerous things. Some is very true the two most unlikely stories in the book actually. Kosinski writes about his main character missing the plane to LA and all his friends were killed in a mass murder, Kosinski was supposed to go to Roman Polanski's house but lost his luggage and was delayed a day just causing him to miss arriving the night of the Charles Mansion Helter Skelter murders. The second story is about his main character marring a rich heiress for love only to see her die. This actual happened to the Kosinski. His mixture of pure fiction with the Autobiographical is mesmerizing. Leventur his main character is a Russian émigré who has many international adventures. He is a womanizer, a killer, a hero victim, avernger and villian. The plot bounces around the world from the opressed world of the Soviet Union to the extra
grandure and freedom of america. I also loved Being There.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Kosinski reveals Blind Dates with our destiny 7 April 2000
By Christopher Chai - Published on
Format: Paperback
Depicted in non-linear time frames, Kosinski dramatically succeeds in presenting the tumultuous life of one man, George Leventer. Associating with the powerful, beautiful, and lonely people around the world, Kosinski's character captures that elusive state of accepting the paradox of being powerful but lonely, requiring love but displaying violence, and growing old but questioning fate. His narrative is sharp and cinematic in structure and tone. Erotica is insightfully tamed and given in precise portions. I became entralled in dissecting the characters intentions as much as their decisions and actions. A superb study in pychological drama and state of consciousness. Please read it and THINK about what it has to say.
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