Arabian Nightmare Paperback – 1 Jan 1998
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Top Customer Reviews
Despite all this, the book is not tiresome in the way that so many 'clever clever' books are ("Sound and the Fury" anyone? "Ulysses"?). Here you will be borne along by a pantheon of rich and varied characters: sinister arab mages, assassins, talking monkeys, David Lynch-esque dwarves, beautiful but deadly prostitutes, a dissipated mogul and his bored, prosmiscuous daughters; and many more.
Also, the settings are vivid and pungent and fascinating. Many are in the heads of the characters. The description of the caravanserai and the surrounding precincts of old Cairo, with their stench, over-crowding, disease and darkness, is claustrophobic and menacing. Yet, it is preferable to remain within their sweaty labrynthine warrens than to stray into the hinterland surrounding the great city, where this world and some other seem to merge...Read more ›
I don't need a tidy resolution -- I recently loved Meyrinck's the Golem, for instance -- and I'm happy for the journey to be the point, but towards the end the journey seemed a real slog, and the muddled confusedness seemed to be the author losing control of what the story was and where it was going, or perhaps having too many ideas and not fully developing any one, rather than any reflection of the subject matter or any design. And that's a real shame, because this could have been a masterpiece. Overall, three stars covers it. It's still a worthwhile read overall, but I'd have been as happy giving up about two-thirds to three-quarters of the way through, maybe leaving like one of those unfinished dreams where you'll always wonder how it might have ended...
Structure: Dreamlike, story within a story.
What I liked: The structure the vivid language and the engaging narration.
What I didn't like: Because of the nature of the stories it was sometimes hard to keep up with whether we'd met a character before and also just keeping up with which character was who. This just made it a little bit of a difficult read even if your reading it all at once as I did.
Favourite Quote: `Do you see the city below us? Do you seeit? In the evenings dimness does it not seem to you like a child's toy or a gaming board and the people thronging its streets like tiny dolls or even insects? Up here do not their struggles and their ideals and their passions seem ridiculous?'
Main Body of the Review:
First off I will say the most exciting thing about this book is the structure which is partly based on 1001 nights or Arabian nights. This means every story and chapter runs into each other. The structure is a dream within a dream, a story within an allegory within another story. This means that is hard to tell what is fantasy and reality in this novel. It starts very dreamlike and although events are odd they aren't horrible. SLowly however the characters and you as the reader begin to get trapped in a maze of overlapping narratives and the story becomes more of a nightmare.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Written in a style that is intentionally slow, confusing and complex but well worth making the effort.Published 3 months ago by Clem Neville
Read this over 20 yearsvago. Was delightedb to get the ebook version. Its a gorgeous, lush tale of dreams within dreams.Published on 25 Jun. 2013 by darwinev0lved
Beautiful atmospheric book - very evocative, like a lost book of the Arabian nights but with the odd modern anachronistic twist. Read morePublished on 4 Mar. 2010 by Jezza
All I can add to the previous reviews is, buy the Penguin edition which has beautiful illustrations by David Roberts.Published on 20 Nov. 2009 by R. Allen
I was first attracted to this book by the references in the foreword to Calvino, Borges and the like - all writers for whom I have great respect. Read morePublished on 15 July 2000 by firstname.lastname@example.org
Irwin, a scholar of the Near east, has produced a novel of the Western dream of the orient. A strange, disturbing Orient of the mind. It's a long time favourite of mine. Read morePublished on 7 Oct. 1999 by Maldoror