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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A book for a very niche audience!, 12 Dec. 2011
By 
John M "John M" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: United States of Banana (Paperback)
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I selected this book because I thought the cover blurb was intriguing.
However I didn't last long. After a couple of chapters I decided that this wasn't for me. I was hoping for a readable satirical novel, but couldn't relate to the style at all. It is written in a surreal style that will only appeal to a minority audience. I flicked ahead and saw that throughout the book further unreadable weirdness awaited.
Maybe this work does have a deep artistic and intellectual merit. However, if so, it is completely lost on me.
Beware - this is not a work that will appeal to mainstream novel reader.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Political? existential? or just plain silly? or, One character in search of a plot, 27 Sept. 2011
This review is from: United States of Banana (Paperback)
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Who is this that draweth nigh? Is it a mediocre poet on a bandwagon? What does it mean to *be* portorriqueno rather than, say, Icelandic or Maltese? In London such distinctions are as meaningless as sartorial or sexual preferences, but they are scarcely more meaningful when states are at war. And what is this confection? Meditation or rant? Truth or fiction? Argument or spat? Soul-baring or dog's dinner? The latest phase in Braschi's project to valorize the Puerto Rican or at least Nuyorican literary footprint and, no doubt, seek tenure starts with a bang (9/11); from then on the only way is down. This is *not* a novel, as it says on the back, but a 280p dialogue (not, I think, actable - it's barely readable) preceded by a monologue, disjointed but none the worse for that, where Braschi riffs half-heartedly on Hamlet and foreignness ('we are born uneven') while never quite revealing herself. I love first person narrators (you know where you are with them) but she gets away with things no man could. 'My hierarchy of inspiration is the daemon, the duende, the angel, and the muses.' Eek - an angel AND an Oxford comma! At least hearing her unmediated voice for once we can feel her presence, savour her skill; for that she gets, grudgingly, a 3rd star. Just occasionally it reads like a translation. Which is absolutely fine. But who, frankly, cares - as the author claims to - whether Puerto Rico is nation, colony or state? Nationalism, when it gets power is always and ever bad (I'm tempted to say, like all isms) and you don't critique one nationalism, rather defensively I might add, by bigging up your own. If someone has invaded you it'a all right to invade them? I don't think so, Giannina. (And there was me thinking this was about the Lessons to be Learned from 9/11.) For an alternate taste of bizarre, sweaty Nuyorican, try Duke, the Dog Priest, by a Brazilian who, like Braschi, sounds a bit French. Confused? You will be
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Much ado about nothing..., 25 Oct. 2011
By 
D. Salmon "domski1969" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: United States of Banana (Paperback)
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Though wary of anything whose main descriptor is 'cutting edge' I thought I'd give this a spin.
The release of prisoner Segismundo, who has languished in prison for a hundred years has unexpectedly seismic implications for the very notion of liberty, and poet and novelist Giannina Braschi uses this fantasy to explore a post 9/11 world and the fracturing of America as it struggles to incorporate a huge influx of Latin American people and culture.

Or at least I think she does...

However, the ideas of this novel are to me subsumed in an infuriatingly eliptical style that seems obsessed with its own cleverness where each sentence is a post-modern parlour game. An example;

'Who would you betray?'
'I would betray none, except I would betray you for betraying me by asking me to betray'

These caprices can be fun and playful, but on every line? on every page?
Pretty soon my overiding reaction was 'KNOCK IT OFF!!'

This allegorical style and delight in unconventional prose can be a wonder when in the hands of a Pynchon or Rushdie, but here, just like a film who's shaky camerawork is meant to convey 'energy' and 'disorientation' but in fact just makes you sea-sick, this book becomes tiresome pretty quickly.

Or maybe I'm just not clever enough, and find myself getting annoyed by someone who seems to be just showing off how clever THEY are.

Whatever, the novelist's attempt to mesh the narrative with that of Hamlet is telling.Now there was an author with great ideas, with an extraordinary and inventive grasp of language.

I shall have to content myself with being clever enough to enjoy that!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't be deceived, 15 Dec. 2011
By 
JoMaynard (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: United States of Banana (Paperback)
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This is a Latin American arty type book. Unfortunately I ordered it because the blurb and cover made me think it was going to be rather more fun and less weighty than it is.
The first half of the book has a series of accounts of September 11th, these are graphic and harrowing, and should come with a health warning. Especially for people like my husband who were there. I do wonder if the Author really was, or maybe its just different ways of dealing with tragedy between the Anglo-Saxon and Latin American.
The second half is a script, between the Author and Characters including the Statue of Liberty. I have to admit I didn't make it very far, as I had already lost the will to go further in the first half.
If you don't like realism, and do like this kind of heavy literature, you may like it. I didn't.
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United States of Banana
United States of Banana by Giannina Braschi (Paperback - 8 Nov. 2011)
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