Customer Review

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent but flawed in style, 8 Feb. 2008
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This review is from: When Nietzsche Wept: A Novel of Obsession (Perennial Classics) (Paperback)
In all honesty, I give this book just short of 4 stars. It is an excellent book and well worth reading. And like the 2007 film adaptation, it's as equally fascinating and flawed.

The film in comparison is flawed in that it attempts to squeeze an awful lot into a 100 minute running time. The book is flawed in that what it has in insight, it lacks in literary style and voice. The characters of Nietzsche and Breuer become little more than mouthpieces of psychology and analysis in action. Of course, that is a strong part of the book, but it sacrifices any real shading to the characters and neither of them has their own independent voice outside of the author's.

Another minor flaw (tackled as clumsily in the film adaptation) is a very important hypnosis scene. I won't go into details here and spoil the narrative, but where as in the film it feels a 'cop out', in the book it borders on almost dismissive. Again, this is down to Yalom's cut and dried (almost naive?) style of exposition.

And yet, despite these flaw, the book is a gripping read. The real joy comes in unravelling the obsessions (thus fears) of both protagonists, and in turn, your own self. In fact, there's very little in this book you cannot identify with and graced with moments of genuine emotion that moved this reader to tears more than once.

In a strange way, the film and the book are almost companion pieces. One succeeds where the other falls, and it is to Yalom's credit that, despite the flaws, his book is a genuinely moving account of friendship, reclaiming the self and 'amor fati'.

An ideal book for those feeling lost in their own lives or having just emerged from a broken relationship. Excellent, but like I said, give the film a try as well...
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4.5 out of 5 stars (49 customer reviews)
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Ian Armer
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Location: Lancashire, United Kingdom

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