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Seven Types of Ambiguity [Paperback]

Elliot Perlman
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

16 Jun 2005
A novel of obsessive love in an age of obsessive materialism, Seven Types of Ambiguity is Elliot Perlman's stunning follow-up to his highly acclaimed debut novel Three Dollars. Following years of unrequited love, an out-of-work schoolteacher decides to take matters into his own hands, kidnapping his beloved's young son and triggering a chain of events no one could have anticipated.

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Seven Types of Ambiguity + Three Dollars + The Street Sweeper
Price For All Three: 19.44

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  • Three Dollars 5.96
  • The Street Sweeper 6.29

Product details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; New Ed edition (16 Jun 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571207227
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571207220
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"'A complex and perfectly nuanced study of idealised love turned sour.' Daily Mail; 'Perlman's novel is a colossal achievement' Observer; 'Seven Types of Ambiguity shows Elliot Perlman to be Australia's outstanding social novelist' TLS"

About the Author

Elliot Perlmanis the acclaimed author of a collection of short stories and two novels,Three Dollars, the film adaptation of which was released in 2005, andSeven Types of Ambiguity, which was a 'New York Times Notable Book' and a national bestseller in France, where it was described 'one of the best novels of recent years, a complete success'(Le Monde). A barrister, he lived in New York for many years and currently lives in Melbourne.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unambiguously great 5 Feb 2007
This novel is a rare thing - it has big serious things to say about the way the world is and the way we live our lives, yet its central ideas are explored through characters you can't help engaging with and whom you care about, whether they inspire horror or pity or admiration or bewilderment or, more often, complex ambivalent responses. The story is compelling, mysterious and seriously well plotted; the widely various backgrounds of the characters are entirely convincing. In the end I was moved, impressed, made to think and reflect, and felt I had experienced a slight inner shift - in decades of reading seriously I find very few books do all this.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, challenging and thoughtful. 16 Nov 2005
When I picked up this book in a train station WHSmith store, I did so with the intention of broadening my literary tastes. Naturally, I approached it with certain trepidation; after all, people are resistant to change.
When I opened this novel, however, I was greeted with something quite different from the expectations I’d formed in my mind. It is, quite definitely, a novel of this century, touching upon issues both economic and social that are relevant to modern life, and yet Perlman communicates his observations with grace. His prose flows effortlessly, breathing poetry into potentially mundane subjects, beguiling the reader at times when the plot fails to thrill. This, fortunately, is a rare occurrence, as the novel has seven narrators, each continuing their predecessor’s account, relieving much of the tedium when a particular voice starts to irk.
Perlman has received criticism for the apparent lack of ambiguity in relation to his narrators and their perceptions of events, and I have considered this carefully since finishing the book. Admittedly, there is a definite similarity in the tone of the seven parts, but I attribute this to the author’s style, which it cannot be argued, is imperative to a writer’s identity. But can that be the case in this situation, where the subject of ambiguity, the theme supposedly illustrated, is the very quality missing from Perlman’s characters? I suggest that the reader look deeper, closer at the characters, at their subtle differences. An acute observation reveals that the characters’ slightest difference in interpreting the events of the novel severely affect their outcomes. Here, Perlman is forcing the reader to work for their own meaning; he creates ambiguity by the very nature of his narrative structure.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it! 5 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Elliott Perlman at its best. Moving, clever, engaging style and impossible to put down. This is my second book by this author and I will ceratinly be readng the third one. Brilliant!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Seven Types of Ambiguity 17 Jun 2011
For anyone who's ever been depressed, or been in a mental state different from the considerable norm, this book is for you. I can easily see how this book can be divided into two - those that relate and those that don't. It's packed with philosophical and psychological reasoning, and heavily quotable sentences that are so true to life, you really wish you wrote them yourself.

The book follows a story of the obsessive and heartbroken Simon, whose life is dominated by the memory of his ex-lover, Anna. In a spur of madness he does something that will change both of their lives, for better and worse, and the book provides seven different viewpoints and opinions on the series of events; seven characters, seven types of ambiguity. The thing that makes the book so great though is the character of Dr Alex Kilma, Simon's psychiatrist. If, as a reader, you've ever had the experience of visiting such a doctor, you'll probably romanticise and connect with him more than anyone else can. He's the type of psychiatrist that films provoke and reality lacks; the will-drive-to-your-house-at-night committed, the type where your problems have taken over his whole life, the one that always says the right thing in a session, and every one is an intense debate about the world, or the things and metaphysics within it. However, he is in no way storybook, and neither is the story - it's easy to imagine it all as very real.

I didn't like the ending, but thinking about it, I don't know what I would have preferred. Sometimes the overall storyline, when looking at it all as a whole, seems a bit unbelievable, in the sense of 'all that happened and they still did that?'. But as a whole, it was a really endearing read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enticingly different! 15 Nov 2010
By comm88
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love Perlman's style of prose and the way he has woven this book together is compelling. You just have to know how it ends. Have to! And to me that says everything about any book. He creates richly detailed and lively characters and though he occasionally floats close to the gently absurd, he manages to steer away from the rocks that wreck so many plots. You'll love the characters and feel yourself torn between what's right and just and what should be right and just! Now, how's that for an achievement in words? Buy it, love it, enjoy it!
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2.0 out of 5 stars All cake and little fruit 18 Sep 2010
There are some very good things in this book: the courtroom scenes and the blackjack tutorial stand out. The reference near the end to "learned helplessness" and the descriptions of insider dealing in the stockbroking firm indicate a fine nose for the way our Western societies are going.

But I agree with the reviewers who find the book (a) too long and repetitive; (b) implausibly all on one note; (c) with a feeble plot depending on coincidences; (d) having characters one dislikes or at least can't sympathise with: Simon is feeble, Joe is a drunken thug, Alex is an ineffective wimp, Angel is a mystery (why does she engage in prostitution?), Anna is confused and heartless, Mitch a borderline case; (e) showing almost no ear for the varied ways in which people speak - with the exception of the Greek grandfather (the New York Times compared Perlman to Dickens and George Eliot!!).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A most fantastic read, thoughtful and provoking
Eliot Perlman seems to write about psychiatry, the breakdown of global community fuelled by social divisions around economics and how it all impacts on a particular protagonist. Read more
Published on 27 Feb 2010 by Ms. L. Bannister
1.0 out of 5 stars Seven types of redundancy
Perlman is an acclaimed Australian author, and this is his 3rd novel. He works as a barrister in Melbourne, which explains his interest in court procedures. Read more
Published on 7 July 2009 by Joachimski
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling literary jigsaw puzzle
Simon and Anna fell in love at first sight, some ten years ago, when they found themselves in the same university tutorial-group. Read more
Published on 26 July 2006 by jfp2006
3.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and ambitious, but flawed and unsatisfactory
My main problem with this novel is, as others have pointed out, the fact that the tone of voice remains almost identical - an erudite, slightly contrived quasi-confession - no... Read more
Published on 20 Sep 2005 by R. Gray
2.0 out of 5 stars Although you wouldn't know it
There are 7 different narrators. Their voices are almost indistinguishable. Ironically (given the title), all the narrators are apparently fully trustworthy. Read more
Published on 13 Nov 2004 by Daniel Read
5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT
This is a remarkable book, the best novel I've read in years. I hardly know where to begin in describing it. Read more
Published on 4 Nov 2004 by "kingscounty"
5.0 out of 5 stars couldn't put it down
This is a sweeping tapestry of a book, and I loved every page of it. I grant that it's lengthy, but it completely sucked me into the world of the characters (Read the first 50... Read more
Published on 27 Oct 2004
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