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Dhalgren (S.F. MASTERWORKS) [Paperback]

Samuel R. Delany
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

22 July 2010 S.F. MASTERWORKS

A young man arrives in the anarchic city of Bellona, in a near future USA. This world has two moons but could otherwise be our own.

The man, known only as 'the Kid', begins to write a novel called Dhalgren that begins where it ends.

Dhalgren is about the possibilites of fiction and about the special demands and pleasures of youth culture.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (22 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575090995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575090996
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 4.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 353,027 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

Book Description

A counter-culture classic and a classic of SF - a young man arrives in a near future US and writes a book that may be DHALGREN.

About the Author

Samuel R. Delany (1942 - ) Samuel Ray 'Chip' Delany, Jr was born in Harlem in 1942, and published his first novel at the age of just 20. As author, critic and academic, his influence on the modern genre has been profound and he remains one of science fiction's most important and discussed writers. He has won the Hugo Award twice and the Nebula Award four times, including consecutive wins for Babel-17 and The Einstein Intersection. Since January 2001 he has been a professor of English and Creative Writing at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he is Director of the Graduate Creative Writing Program. For more information see www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/delany_samuel_r

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a little extra info 27 Sep 2007
By Nerd58
I agree with Jason's review and would add that this is very much the product of its time, very soul-searching, "find yourself", self-indulgent 70s. It's nostagia for some of us!

The literary style is one of experimentation, breaking into themes and patterns of prose that repeat, excerpts, poetic musings. Diverse methods are used disjoint the text and the reading of it. This gives it an expressive freedom, matching the libertarian concerns of the work and the time and place in which it was written. It could be a bit off-putting to those that have specific preferences as to how SF should be written. Space Opera it ain't. That's why I liked it so much! Good writing is not a matter of fashion or a restrictive genre style.

I think it's beautiful, but don't bother if you like a tight, explicable, neat tale with fast pacing and a big bang at the end. You won't find that here.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Impenetrable Fortress 3 Sep 2009
I first tried to read this book when it was first published, thrilled to have a new Delany in my hands, as he is one of my favorite authors. But I couldn't finish it then, it just became too obscure and without point. Recently reminded of this book , I realized I was still irritated by this failure (surely it had to be a fault with me, not such a great writer), so I finally sat down and read it, cover to cover. Net result:

a. The book is not SF. It may not even be fantasy. Perhaps it belongs with certain works by Kafka. Its nominal story line is of a poet (never named, if referred to at all it's as 'the Kid') wandering around a dreamscape city isolated from the 'real' world, subject to odd lapses of memory and having various encounters (many of a sexual variety) with the inhabitants and musing about himself.

b. There are important themes that Delany addresses in this book, such as the mutability and slipperiness of time, how each individual experiences time differently; some long polemics on the art and purpose of writing; some decent commentary on 'proper' social mores and how they come into being; how gods and legends are made.

c. Unfortunately, items in (b) are buried inside an almost impenetrable fortress of non-plot, asides, deliberately mixed up time order of events, a confusing cast of characters (some of whom you don't learn who they are till after they have already performed important actions), double side by side stories (on the same page), and a whole raft of symbols and metaphors that he deliberately leaves few clues about what they are supposed to represent, non-closure of what is the apparent main story, occasional use of stream-of-consciousness (with no warning about transition from normal prose), etc, etc, etc.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Avant-garde SF masterwork 21 Feb 1999
By A Customer
Though not to everyone's taste, and hard-going in parts, Delany's sprawling tale of a man's, and a city's, and a society's dance with madness is a unique and dizzying experience. As erotic as it is disturbing, it charts the progress of the Kid as he enters the city of Bellona, somehow isolated from the rest of America, with a dwindling population and slowly decaying social structure. Neither he nor the reader can ever be sure of what is real and of what matters, and the attempt to retain sanity in the absence of rules - or the attempt to create and maintain new ones - becomes increasingly desperate. If you like a challenging read and have an open mind, you may find this one of the most memorable reads of your life!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bloated, bizarre, impossible and unique 14 May 2012
By Alex
What has not been pointed out enough in the many reviews for this book is that, no matter how firmly or viciously you search, you will never find another like it. That alone should warrant it particular consideration.
Fortunately, it also happens to be a wonderfully told and passionate tale of...well, of Dhalgren. Who or what is Dhalgren? A pointed question, one that The Kid - a young drifter suffering from partial amnesia - is confronted with on several occasions as he blunders into and attempts to survive the city of Bellona. That Bellona is meant to occupy the exact physical centre of America should give a clue that Delaney is at least dipping his toes into parable, though this novel is far more than symbolist claptrap (though it's that too). It's a record of a tentative and experimental romance, a claustrophobic horror-show, a mad dance with a gang of high-tech street youth, a surreal confrontation with the heart of artistic creation, a grotesque interpretation of race and gender relations, a pornographic diary and, more than anything else, it is a description of a place. That place is Bellona, a city of empty streets and lost souls, where the broken and the perverse have come to play; it may also be where a small community of people find a quiet kind of wonder, and a subtle sort of freedom, and a strange day of doom.
Yes, Dhalgren is unique, exquisitely written and a whale of a book - one that will make you a Jonah, to emerge from it forever changed.
Who or what is Dhalgren? Well, therein lies the tale...
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jaw-dropping. Just awesome. 5 Aug 2001
By Jason Mills VINE VOICE
What this man can't do with words ain't worth doing. This monster of a novel is Delany's masterpiece. Compelling and enigmatic, it follows the life of The Kid as he enters and learns to live in the strange city of Bellona. For reasons unknown, the city is dying: most of its people have left. Of those who remain, some have fallen into anarchy and a frighteningly uncompromising freedom, whilst others cling to their old ways and habits. The Kid himself has been crazy in the past and is terrified of falling back into madness; but in Bellona it is impossible to tell madness from reality.
Relentlessly vivid (including desperately physical sex), the book sunk its claws into me for 900 pages and left me used up and gasping. No plot summary could even hint at the experience of reading this beast. Get it while it's in print.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable.
I put off reading this book for too long, but also feel I have benefitted from coming to it after more life and reading. Read more
Published 6 months ago by SW
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult read... for scifi. Great book.
This is definitely a more difficult read that most science fiction. Even the good stuff, like Philip K Dick.
Having said that, it's well written and compelling. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Bastett
1.0 out of 5 stars when does it start making sense?
Well im trying to read this and it makes no sense! Apparently it becomes incohernt towards the end! Normally I don't read plot summaries. I also don't delete books from my kindle. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mr. N. J. Keighley
2.0 out of 5 stars Yuk
No doubt a milestone when written.
Thankfully society has (hopefully) moved on.
Nasty violent misogynist crap does not float my boat
Published 13 months ago by Susan
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Science Fiction and really rather awful
Firstly, this book is not what I consider to be science fiction, so anyone buying it on the basis that it is a SF masterwork beware! Read more
Published on 17 April 2012 by Codz
3.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece? Pretentious Tosh? Who Says It Can't Be Both?
"Dhalgren" is a difficult book. Not the most difficult book ever written, but probably the most formally ambitious novel to emerge from a relatively mainstream SF writer at the... Read more
Published on 17 Nov 2011 by Runmentionable
3.0 out of 5 stars Too self-indulgent
Dhalgren is without doubt an exploration of the psyche of Delaney himself, albeit one undertaken in abstruse fashion. Read more
Published on 13 Sep 2011 by Balor of the Evil Eye
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetic, Memorable
It's an amazing book that just seems to flow, it draws you in emotionally into a different world and keeps you intellectually involved throughout.
Published on 26 Aug 2011 by Mr. R. Stevens
1.0 out of 5 stars Just because something is ambitious doesn't neccessarily make it good.
I realise I may be in the minority here, but i really did not like this book at all.

The "style" wasn't the problem - I have read far more challenging books than this... Read more
Published on 17 Aug 2009 by Stubanana
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious twaddle
I haven't read such appalling,rambling, stream-of-consciousness drivel for a long time. The author must have been doped up to the eyeballs when he wrote this.
Published on 8 Feb 2009 by Amit Mozoomdar
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