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Showing 1-6 of 6 reviews(1 star). See all 66 reviews
on 31 January 2011
This is one of those books which I think you'll either love or hate. Unfortunately for me, I found this to be one of the most depressing books I have ever read and one which I really struggled to finish, (but ultimately did so after a long, hard slog).

Linked by a mysterious desk, several characters describe their completely soul destroying lives in endless dark description. This is truly a book which emphasises the black, emptiness of depression and loss and one which I found very difficult to read. I couldn't relate to the characters, became disinterested and therefore found the descriptive prose akin to wading through treacle. Whilst the characters revealed more of their secrets as the book progressed, I found myself caring less and less about what happened to them.

Make no mistake, this book is extremely well written and the descriptive prose is some of the very best I have read; but if the subject matter doesn't grab you from the off (as it didn't with me), then the book becomes difficult, repetitive and tiresome.

This is a modern fictional novel which may possibly polarise opinion. The author's power to describe and set a scene is excellent, but the book is so slow, fragmented and shrouded with depression that it makes this comparatively small book appear to be so much longer than it actually is.

Have a look at the book's synopsis and some of the other reviews before you make a decision to buy or not. I didn't enjoy it, but others have done and will continue to do so.

Just be wary, this is not a light hearted read!
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on 30 September 2014
Oh dear, I feel terrible about saying it but I thought this was a dreadful book. Self consciously literary to an almost embarassing degree; painfully pretentious. The main characters are highly sensitive artists and writers who spend their lives navel gazing and angst-ridden about whether to have toast or cereal in the morning. The book seems to be a product of the New York that wants the world to notice how sensitive and sophisticated it is; a first I thought it was a parody of this kind of thing, but then I realised it was taking itself entirely seriously. A good example of why it does not pay to strain too hard after a particular effect. Perhaps best summed up as Woody Allen without the jokes.
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on 3 December 2011
Despite it's undoubtedly beautiful prose this is a lazy book, told in a number of almost identical voices and set in a number of parts of the works that the author has visited, though God knows I'd be amazed if she had ever been to Liverpool.

I realise that authors write what they know but New York, Jerusalem, London and Oxford are the well trodden settings for this book. Nearly everyone seems to be a writer. Has the author no imagination? Can she not try to write about other people, other places?

And as for Liverpool. If you ever visit the Anfield area of the city and find someone like the character portrayed in this book who speaks as if she has just finished her masters degree in comparative english literature and social psychology, I suggest you too have ventured into a neverland. I don't think Nicole Krauss can imagine how the other 99% live and talk.

Two things in particular are lacking. The relentless highbrow references get rather wearying and whilst I don't expect everyone to be name checking the X Factor or tabloid newspapers throughout, there is not a single reference to popular culture in the entire book.

The Ayatollah Khomeni in Iran once notoriously said that " there are no jokes in Islam", this book suggests that there are none in Judaism either, which Larry, Bette, Joan and I know to be untrue. Shakespeare managed humour. Why doesn't Nicole have a try?

Come on Nicole - let your hair down a bit. Live a little and laugh a bit more. The human condition is not as bleak as you seem to think it is and it can be examined in other more entertaining and well-rounded ways.
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on 26 January 2012
This is not good. I hate it when I get fooled by good reviews. Where are these people getting this. I think another reviewer said 'unrelenting'. Yes. Mercilessly unrelenting. There is not a character in this book you will like. There is not a character that is entirely believable. There is not a story in here that is readable. I don't care about a single person in this book. You think maybe it will get better as you read along. It doesn't. This is like that book 'The hare with the amber eyes'. (see my review) But fiction. If you like boredom and despair, this is for you. Me, I think it is just a fraud. I don't even see how it is publishable. I get mad when I get suckered. I got suckered.
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VINE VOICEon 16 August 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
My wife had read praiseful reviews of this book in the newspapers, so she was delighted to see it come up on Vine - over to her for the review:

I really expected to like this book from the literary reviews I had seen, I was looking forward to a book that would engage me with its interweaving story told by different people and enthrall me with the quality of its prose.

Unfortunately it did neither. I found it long winded, bleak and far to cerebral for my liking, so I only managed the first 50 pages. Maybe I will try again in the future and give it a second chance - but I have decided that there are so many things out there to read/see/do it is not worth persevering just because someone I have never met recommends it.
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on 13 June 2011
Due to the fact that this book has been widely acclaimed by critics, it was selected as suitable material for my book group. 6 of us, 3 men and 3 women read it and our conclusions were common. In places, this is beautifully written, but is far too clever for its own good. The plot chops and changes too frequently, jumping backwards and forwards in time, almost as if the writer took a story, divided it into parts and then shuffled them. There may have been a good story in this book somewhere, but 6 of us failed to find it. The characters are so poorly drawn that in the end as readers we struggled to get emotionally involved, they are all depressed, hopeless individuals that it was difficult to empathise with or even care about what happened to them. In conclusion, none of us would recommend it. The fact that the story kept jumping around did not help. Someone needs to point out to the author, that it may appeal to the critics, but for the rest of us, this it just makes for a disjointed, uninvolving, unengaging and frankly annoying book. Avoid.
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