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Karoo Paperback – 7 Jan 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (7 Jan. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099777916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099777915
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 219,557 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Karoo has all the ingredients of a truly great novel. Its plot has the pathos of a Greek tragedy and enough twists and turns to satisfy the most avid Raymond Chandler fan. The characters come alive as soon as they appear on the page. Fantastic" (Literary Review)

"Utterly wonderful... This novel does supremely what novels were invented to do - it confronts the most unbearable sadness with a comic exhilaration that makes you almost pleased that life is tragic" (Howard Jacobson)

"Mordantly funny, unexpectedly moving and brutally honest about the business of making movies" (Richard E Grant)

"Fascinating. A real satiric invention, loaded with wise outrage" (Arthur Miller)

"Terrific. Nakedly honest, a tour de force of self-destruction. As Saul spirals into free-fall we're with him all the way, because he's so furiously funny" (Deborah Moggach)

Review

"Drop whatever else you're reading. It won't be as good as Karoo. It certainly won't be as funny"

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By D. J. Swann on 1 Dec. 2008
Format: Paperback
Don't be put off by the first 150 pages! At that point, I thought I was in for an endless wallow in slime along the lines of 1980s Martin Amis (which I enjoyed at the time...).

However, 'Karoo' turns out to be far more than an ironic expose of Hollywood hacks and their shallow lives.

Yes, it's concerned with shallowness (and obsessed with the divide between 'public and 'private' selves that once animated the work of Chekhov).

But 'Karoo' goes beyone the entertainment of similarly disgusted satires (e.g. 'The Player') and becomes a howl of mid-life pain, more excrutiating than an entire series of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm', and full of frustrated self-knowledge.

The novel's final third is suffused with a yearning for beauty and truth that put me in mind of 'Seize the Day', a brilliant novella by Saul Bellow, whose name bears a curious resemblance to that of the anti-hero in Tesich's book (and whose protagonist also ultimately finds grace in an uncomfortable encounter with a deathly body).

'Karoo' is written in the flat, fluent syle favoured by screenwriters. Easy to read, then -- but the bleak, tortured, self-circling truths faced by its anti-hero are hard to face, and I can imagine repelled readers throwing it to the floor in disgust.

Angry, male novels like 'Karoo' are bound to divide readers. But I have found this book unforgettable, particularly for the moving final quarter, where it widens out, rising above self-disgust and social satire to become a strange, emotional meditation upon creativity and the soul.

I would like to thank FC Boyce for introducing me to a novel that I would have missed if it weren't for is evangelising!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By William Cohen VINE VOICE on 30 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Howard Jacobson recommended this book to the 26 group of writers at their annual lecture at the British Library after he won the Booker Prize. I read it in four days - which is pretty quick for me. The first 150 page are a glorious description of the human condition from the point of view of an embittered, successful and wealthy New York script doctor, whose life is falling apart. It's ingenious and very funny. The pace slows a bit when we get into the main story, but I still found the prose magnificent in places. The way he puts things and the way he brings in unexpected details that have a unexpected payoff later in the narrative is brilliant.

Having studied alcoholism, it does suggest to me that the main character shows all the terrible failings of an untreated alcoholic, and there is a bit of an irony in the fact that Saul has lost the capacity to experience the intoxication of the stuff. The book did give me some ideas for taking a rather jaundiced view of life, in the tradition of Reggie Perrin, you get to see how life frustrates our hopes and expectations in the most miraculous ways.

It owes something to the Richard Yates pile on the misery school of writing, and it covers the sophisticated writer's hangups that you get in Robert Altman's The Player - not everyone's cup of tea. The book gave me all sorts of cynical giggles and it had lots of unexpected ideas and insights. The ending filled me with horror and sadness, so I agree with Howard Jacobson - read this novel.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By F. G. Cottrell-boyce on 1 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
Extremely funny and at the same heart breaking. Unquestionably the best book ever about movies but also one of the best books ever about fatherhood, about failure, about drink, about ... oh and one of the most heart-stoppingly amazing final chapters you'll ever read.

Why is this book not number one?

what is wrong with you all?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
i read this in the review of another book when the commentator mentioned how wonderful it is - and he was right! Karoo is a sensational character, sort of transparent in his self-loathing and funny with it; i think the thing (and it's only me - others will have other moments) that moved me tremendously was his moment with his mother, down on his knees, trying to see into her soul for the first time maybe in his life - and he sees her there - and sees her seeing him, and it's just about enough to make it through - those moments really do happen in life, and it's nearly impossible to capture them especially on the page. i found too all the elements of a novel with beginning middle and end that i longed to get to, and to find out what happens - all the compromises you make to get through the day and your life. for a younger person than I am, the humour is sufficient and the recognisable characters despite cartoonish qualities. I cannot recommend it highly enough and I am going to leave my copy on a bench on a street corner in memory of Tesich and also hoping to spread the word.
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Format: Paperback
Saul Karoo is the return of the Anti-hero. Albeit an intellectual one. It is not so much the story that will grab you but Saul's skewed perceptions about love, life & relationships. Saul is a hack. A person who re-writes other peoples movie scripts. He is in an on-going divorce with his wife, suffers from sobriety and 'The evasion of privacy'(he can't stand being alone around people he is supposed to love)Yet, ultimately, Karoo is an immensely sad novel. There is nothing redeeming about our protagonist. Steve Tesich (the author)died four days after the completion of this novel. He won academy awards for the adaption of 'The world according to garp' and 'Breaking away'. If you're into dry inversed logic humour, you'll love it.
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