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Experimental writer (The Age of Wire and String, ** but showed promise) essays genre with repellent results (this reader gave up at page 80) though not as repellent as the Lynchian(?) Eleanor Catton, whose The Rehearsal I bore with for all of ten pages (shudder). As a US reviewer commented, he doesn't understand plot - well, talk of plot in isolation and before you know it you find yourself in rather tenuous Jeffrey Archer territory, but one needs at least a feel for narrative tension - or, put another way, some care for readerly feelings. (Or are these writers addressing a readership grown jaded by exposure to too many crass movies*, who are in effect inviting repulsion?) Was it him or Catton, though, who wrote 'regarded' when they meant 'looked at'? Affected? Them?

* Old man's counsel: one movie, one book. But the horse has bolted
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on 16 May 2013
I am amazed by the talent of this man and am humbled by it. I am equally amazed that some rednecks here have the chutzpah to dismiss this work.

It has to be one of the best pieces of prose I have ever read.

Buy it. Support this guy. I got the book out of my library but I am going to stock up on his other work now.
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on 15 March 2013
Promising - but a let down - couldn't wait to finish - could have been brilliant but disappointing. Would not recommend
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on 28 September 2013
I found this an unpleaseant book, did not like the strory and stopped reading at page 85. Only the second book in my life I have stopped reading and not read until the bitter end. Not sure what the point of the book was, most unpleasant reading. I did not like the reference to Jews, nor the references to the underground holes, sex in them and to the links. Can understand the reference to Jews and having to hide their faith but not sure how it came into play in this book. I would not recomend it to anyone.
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Why the gratuitous overuse of f***ing in the most inappropriate places? Why the lurid description of his neighbour's toilet habits? Does Ben Marcus think creativity is directly proportional to the number of four letter words he can squeeze in, or to how obnoxious he can be? Does he think he's being 'cool'? Or is he maybe trying to demonstrate just how toxic words themselves can be (this at least would fit the plot)? I don't know, but whatever the motive it doesn't work, and comes across as juvenile, undisciplined and self indulgent.

Why the frequent little pieces of 'wisdom' thrown in, such as this priceless gem from page 240:
"... the noises a giant might make from his chest after he's been dealt his deathblow. One must fairly consider that all music is the sound a body makes as it comes to its pretty end." These additions have no purpose in the plot, do not illuminate anything about the characters. They may look incredibly intellectual at first glance but when you analyse them they are usually complete nonsense.

And why all the random irrelevant dead ends in the plot?

All this is such a pity and a missed opportunity, because the central idea of the novel is a stroke of genius, and there are one or two passages and images which I found absolutely riveting.

I found it quite a struggle to motivate myself to keep reading this book. I kept on because of the strength of that initial idea, and wanted to see what happened at the end. Suffice to say I was disappointed.

One to avoid.
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