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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zoo Time
When we meet author Guy Ableman he has been battered by a reading group - indeed he is feeling generally put upon and discouraged by the state of publishing and, in reality, this is a brave novel about a subject that readers and writers seem to discuss endlessly. The arrival of the ebook, what sells (there is a scene where Guy feels he should write a novel with either...
Published 14 months ago by S Riaz

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars As a feminist....
As a feminist, I thought I'd perhaps try to wind the author up by writing a Chipping Norton-esque review, but I can't do it. I'm the wrong kind of feminist, and the wrong kind of ethnicity. A lot of 'I's' in that sentence, which is appropriate. As Jacobson's narrator himself says on more than one occasion, it's all "me, me, me". For to enjoy this book - and I...
Published 3 months ago by Sara


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars As a feminist...., 18 May 2014
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This review is from: Zoo Time (Kindle Edition)
As a feminist, I thought I'd perhaps try to wind the author up by writing a Chipping Norton-esque review, but I can't do it. I'm the wrong kind of feminist, and the wrong kind of ethnicity. A lot of 'I's' in that sentence, which is appropriate. As Jacobson's narrator himself says on more than one occasion, it's all "me, me, me". For to enjoy this book - and I did - you have to want to be in the company of Guy Ableman, thin-skinned, myopic and resentful as he is. Aren't we all?

The book is about (there; another clause to annoy Jacobson) the state of publishing, the necessary selfishness of the writer, the shallow idiocy of the reader, the ghastliness of the platform on which I post this review, and all the related gripes that successful and established writers have in the context of what I think Will Self, another clever miserablist, called the post-Gutenberg era. If that doesn't interest you - a lot - then this probably isn't the book for you. Go read something YA, Ableman would probably advise.

It's also an extended essay about writing, musing playfully on changing fashions, even in the use of grammar. This might have been an harrumphing old school rant about the current state of readers' illiteracy, but Jacobson's too good for that, even if at times he might wobble a little on the tightrope. It might give every appearance of being a reactionary book, but it isn't.

Did I say I was a feminist? So I must comment on the women in this book. They are there, mostly the faintest shadows, glimpsed through Ableman's projections, until we readers, though our innate understanding of cognitive poetics, grasp them late in the novel. Ableman's projections are sharper, more glamorous, more vivacious, more preposterous, than the women Jacobson finally permits us (and the hapless Ableman) to see.

This may be an insiders' book. To appreciate it one needs to be interested in writing qua writing (joke). And the state of publishing. I'm sure it's full of in-jokes I was in no position to spot, let alone 'get'. But I'm glad I read it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Started well - but then got really really annoying, 11 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Zoo Time (Hardcover)
I chose to buy this book after reading a positive review in a newspaper. Initially I found it to be intriguing and humorous (lightly, not laugh-out-loud so folk look at you in shock on a train). I found the lead character, Guy, interesting and was keen to see what would happen between him and his mother-in-law.

And then about half way through, Jacobson started to irritate me. The characters became unlikeable and I found myself not caring about any of them at all, especially the lead, who I grew to really dislike. What's the point? What's actually gpoing on? This is just self-indulgent drivel; a rant against modern times and plenty pigeonholing, which made me inwardly groan.

I don't understand why Jacobson is hailed as one of our best writers. This book is dirge and the reviews on amazon for Booker Prize winnging "The Finkler Question" clearly show that his style is, in the main, disliked by the reader but hailed as second-to-none by the reviewer, critic and journalist. Are they getting a cut of his royalties or something?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zoo Time, 9 Jun 2013
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Zoo Time (Kindle Edition)
When we meet author Guy Ableman he has been battered by a reading group - indeed he is feeling generally put upon and discouraged by the state of publishing and, in reality, this is a brave novel about a subject that readers and writers seem to discuss endlessly. The arrival of the ebook, what sells (there is a scene where Guy feels he should write a novel with either Tudors or vampires in it which is funny only because it is true), YA fiction, the despair of the publishing industry, reviews on Amazon and agents avoiding authors in case they are offered a book they have to place are all covered, within the general story of Guy and his marriage to Vanessa.

Vanessa is a gorgeous, vibrant and talented woman who has an equally beautiful mother, Poppy Eisenhower. When they walk into the boutique that Guy runs, they seem to come as a pair - both with flaming red hair and almost like sisters. In the age of the Great Decline, when "the age of sparing a writers feelings was past", Guy has problems with his publisher, his agent, his parents, his brother and his wife. So he decides to write a novel about his desire for his mother in law, despite advice to the contrary. This leads to a re-telling of his relationship with daughter and mother-in-law, encompassing various book events and Vanessa's own desire to be an author.

This novel is a satire and so much of what Howard Jacobson writes about readers and the world of writers, is tongue in cheek. That is not to say that he does not deride things people hold as sacred, but much of the most biting comments are aimed at himself and it is authors he savages most ('me, me, me'). Guy's own despair is always tempered by his wish to add experiences to his life as a writer, so he often misunderstands events in his own life and that of those closest to him. Of course, to attack things that are precious to people always causes a backlash, but I am brave enough to face his ire and give this novel the five star review it deserves. This is a funny, and often moving, novel - but it has a lot of truth in it and some important things to say about the changing way we are all reading. However, I prefer to be positive and say that more of us are reading than ever and so authors have much to look forward to, even if publishers are struggling to come to terms with the changes.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Who's bored?, 11 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Zoo Time (Kindle Edition)
I don't think Howard Jacobson is interested in his own novel. The lengthy narrative feels as if he is bored. It's not just the reader who is tempted to say if you have read one Jacobson novel you have read them all. It feels as if the author has come to the same conclusion. It's about a Jewish man, in England, as are all his novels. Who talks about sex all the time, and who seeks to be 'transgressive' , to shock or amuse the reader by the outrageousness of his appetite and behaviour. As do all his protagonists. And it relentlessly tries be funny with a succession of one liners and wisecracks, that he takes very seriously. He foresees every possible criticism of his main character Guy as a man and a novelist, as a way it seems to deflect criticism he has met of himself. The whole narrative is driven by a sneer: spite, contempt and scorn for the stupid reader. Overall Jacobson seems bored with his own voice, bored by the novel as a form, and thus by his own livelihood, and bored by the great majority of people around him. He's desperate. It's Edwina Currie out of Bernard Manning. Jacobson thinks the joke is on his reader. I think the joke is on him.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring, 11 Oct 2012
By 
Jacky Pratt (Northamptonshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Zoo Time (Kindle Edition)
This was my first and last book by Howard Jacobson. Reviews said it was funny... it sounded a good holiday read, but for me it was too cynical and self-absorbed. I wondered if it was auto-biographical perhaps. It seemed to be a rant against many things, including a rant against modern readers.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars More Jewish angst, 20 Nov 2012
By 
Susan A. Harris, Prints "Sue Green, St Marys ... (Isle of Man, British Isles) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Zoo Time (Hardcover)
I couldn't finish this turgid book. Bought it because I loved the Finkler Question, but Jacobson has tipped the balance between black satire and self-obsessed self-parody to the point of no return. It just became boring. The central joke about a writer who wants to sleep with his mother-in-law and is trying to write a book about it goes flat pretty soon. None of the characters are sympathetic or particuarly funny either and the wider satire on the publishing world doesn't work either from someone who won the Booker.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars dreadful, 18 July 2013
By 
markr - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Zoo Time (Hardcover)
Somehow I ploughed on to the end of this tedious novel, in the hope that there would be something by the end to make it worthwhile. There isn't. This novel is mainly a rant - against publishing, against modern life, against modern readers. The central character, Guy Ableman, is an author who is disillused with his profession and his life. He lusts after his mother in law, and has toxic relationships with his family, his wife and his colleagues - all of whom he rather holds in contempt. He seems to reserve his greatest level of contempt for himself, and it is hard for the reader not to share this view.

Self obsessed writing, which leads nowhere. A literary novel for the literati? Not that - this is just a bad and unpleasant book - frankly one of the worst novels I have ever read. The main character - and I imagine the author - believes good reviews on Amazon lead to poor book sales. I doubt that. I suspect that dreadful books lead to poor sales. I bought this in a remainder shop for next to nothing.

Suffice to say this is the first book I have read by this author - and it will be the last.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Another boring book about a writer, 6 April 2014
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Mr. D. Nash (Berkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Zoo Time (Kindle Edition)
The "hero" Guy Abelman is - wait for it - a writer! He spends most of his time complaining about the declining number of readers ".... soon there would only be writers." This book is not going to solve that problem. The same complaint continues for over 300 pages. It is all very well to point out that a writer is in deep trouble when all he can write about is being a writer. But, if you are trying to build an entertaining satire, you cannot go on just illustrating that same problem for ever and ever ....Writers, of course, will lap it up - especially the ones that Jacobson would regard as having the right to an opinion. And, after all, it's a panel of writers that awards "serious" literary prizes. This reader (yes, I'm still here) just wants to be entertained and occasionally given something to think about. I don't care about your problems. Get on with your job or get off.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, 10 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Zoo Time (Kindle Edition)
Good book. Rarely read anything like this where you really, really dislike all the characters. Might just be me but if its what the author planned, he got it spot on. Its interesting & different. Enjoyed it. Ending a bit non-descript.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Boring after the preview chapter., 2 Feb 2014
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I downloaded the preview chapter and thought I would really enjoy this book but was disappointed from then on. Only read this is you want lots of male navel gazing and no action. I really can not feel sympathy with a charater that is wallowing in self pity when they have nothing to moan about. The story drags along at a snails pace and you have to wade through lots of pontificating on the way. I couldnt bring myself to finish it, which is very rare for me.
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Zoo Time
Zoo Time by Howard Jacobson (Paperback - 23 May 2013)
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