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3.2 out of 5 stars
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3.2 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I found this book very difficult to get on with. It's not badly written. The opposite in fact. The characterisation of the narrator is very sharply defined and we see the world through his eyes and from his point of view. The trouble was, I couldn't bear him. He is an unattractive, facetious, posturing, idle waste of space whose charm was not sufficient to keep me interested.

I know that some people have found this book hugely amusing, so it really does depend on whether or not you can cope with Charlie. I suggest you look inside and have a taster. You will be able to decide very quickly which side of the fence you are standing on as he comes at you full blast from the word go.
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VINE VOICEon 8 December 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was attracted to this by the description of being a coming-of-age story with a likeness to The Royal Tenebaums - two things I like a lot - but I was mildly disappointed. It's not much like them at all. The story follows a boy growing up and is largely focused on his lustful feelings towards girls, parts of his family life weaved in and bits of various jobs and activities, but generally the plot seems to add and remove events without much explanation or understandable relevance. It's hard to remain engaged as mid way through it just seems to go nowhere, the plot does not thicken as they say - and unfortunately this just results in skim reading from boredom. The idea of it being written in second person is also very annoying - creative and interesting at the start but after realising it lasts through the whole book, it loses it's charm and it just feels like you're being told what to think.

There are a few sentences of great writing here and there, and it starts off great, but overall it wasn't really worth reading. It just lacks so much depth, the main character is weak and unrelateable, and this might be down to my own personal stupidity but it was hard to understand the purpose of any of the storyline.
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VINE VOICEon 25 October 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I really liked Austrian novelist Thomas Glavinic's last book, 'Night Work', which was taught, mysterious sort-of-thriller/dystopian fantasy, vaguely in the mould of Kafka. I was expecting more of the same but 'Pull Yourself Together' is absolutely nothing like it at all... although I enjoyed it nevertheless, for what it is: a smart, wry, character-driven satire, with an almost cinematic quality, redolent of some US indie movie like 'Rushmore'... to build on the previous reviewer's (spot-on) Wes Anderson comparison. Good then, but not expected.
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on 6 December 2014
To be truth to people around, one must be drunk. But you can't be drunk all the time unless u r a politician or a journalist!!!! Good read, the story flows easily and u can't say fiction from reality. The style is good except of the notes. Why did the author need to bring in 3 deaths by the main character??? Does not sound plausible and therefore 3 stars even though we recognize ourselves in Charlie's multiple faces
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on 24 October 2012
Charlie is a Nietsche-reading slacker who worries more about how his is perceived by others than by how he actually feels. He dreams of being a rock star and tries to bed as many women as possible. You get the picture.

But Pull Yourself Together is more than the tale of a self-proclaimed wimp. The story reads like a Wes Anderson - with every shot considered and carefully presented, and a cast of quirky, fascinating characters.

As Charlie faces his comeuppance, the book galvanises around him; the story is one of redemption, and is at times funny, moving and sad. I highly recommend this new voice.
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Thomas Glavinic is a young Austrian writer who has won various awards and scholarships in his home country. Pull Yourself Together is the third of his books to be translated into English. Its a sort of coming-of-age novel about Austrian teenager Charlie Colustrum, an over-weight boy with bad skin who lives with his alcoholic mother.

The book opens on the night Challenger space shuttle broke up in mid-flight in 1986, and finds Charlie about to lose his virginity with his first girl-friend. We then follow the course of Charlie's youth and young-adulthood through to the night in 2003 when the space-shuttle Columbia broke up on re-entry. I suppose that as far as marking the path of a life goes these markers are as good as any!

Although Charlie's mother is an alcoholic he has a number of close relatives including the "aunticles" (a pair of stern and demanding sisters), and a very old great aunt who acts as a fount of wisdom and a refuge for Charlie when he needs top-ups of unconditional love or much-needed schillings (this is pre-euro days of course).

Each chapter records various events in Charlie's life as he moves through seventeen years of his life. Despite his weight (a constant worry to him), he manages to get through several girl-friends during his progress through college and on to a variety of jobs. The story is told in the first person and Charlie has a self-deprecating, ironic voice which allows the readers to hear his inner commentary on the things which happen to him.

Charlie likes to think of himself as a philosopher and attempts to cover up his sense of inadequacy by wearing a black cloak and carrying around volumes by Nietzsche and Kant. In reality he is consumed with superstitious fears and has an unhealthy dependence on self-help guides. At the end of each chapter he tried to draw a life-lesson from episodes in his life in the form of a "note to self", such a,

- Human sexual relationships are an ill-developed system showing grave deficiencies

- Sometimes when you've made a fool of yourself you've really opened the door to something new

- When you're sitting there consumed with hatred, remember that youth and dependence will someday come to an end.

There are hardly profound insights into life, but they are amusing in the context of the Charlie's mishaps.

This is a humorous book and Thomas Glavinic sets up Charlie with scenes which provide endless scope for appropriate social disasters such as a summer spent going door to door in Germany trying to sign people up as Red Cross donors, or a few weeks spent training to be a taxi-driver. Although I was not over-impressed with the book to start with, I soon got really into the character and found myself racing through the book to find out what happened next. It really is very funny at times.
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on 19 November 2012
I have just put this aside after a couple of chapters. I kept trying to keep my interest going, but found I didn't really care much about the main character; despite his apparent growing maturity as he meanders through various teenage rites of passage, he remains for me rather two-dimensional and dull. The book title suggests that somewhere along the line he will be jolted out of this life trajectory somewhere ahead, but I find it hard to care about what happens to him. I also found the style of writing somewhat alienating. Don't like to be so negative; perhaps I'm missing something!
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on 3 June 2015
I really enjoyed this book. I got it as a free read via my Prime account, but I will purchase it next time I want to read it so I have it always.

I loved the style of this book. It reminded me of other coming-of-age stuff such as Keith Waterhouse's "Billy Liar" character or Francoise Sagan's "Cecile".

I actually liked the character, despite his faults, and who of us have no faults or foibles? We first meet him as a 16-year-old boy, obsessed with obtaining sexual experience, who is rather neglected by his alcoholic mother. It's not much wonder he lives in his head so much. However, he does love his great-great-aunt Ernestine, who he reveals provided much of his upbringing. He is closest to her, out of all his assorted slightly-mad relatives. In fact, he cares so much for her that he not infrequently gets up in the middle of the night and drives or takes a cab to her house, when he has fears that something bad has happened to her and she may need him (she is very elderly and lives alone). He is really cut up about her death and doesn't just forget her and move on.

He has, in my opinion, other redeeming features. He loves his cat, Mimi, having endless patience for her and not punishing her for cat-like activities such as knocking vases over and toileting accidents. Throughout the book, he never actually does anyone a bad turn. In fact, he puts up with quite a lot of nonsense himself from assorted relatives, friends and girlfriends.

Even his faults could be construed as simply insecurity and lack of guidance, in no small part, I'm sure, due to his upbringing. He seems to have become rather over-reliant on self-help literature. However, he takes every experience he has as an opportunity to learn something about himself and the world and he makes "notes to self" to add to his ever-growing collection of self-knowledge.

Eventually, he starts to settle into a lifestyle groove, slowly realising that his fantasies of power and ability to impress others will remain just fantasies. Instead, he settles down into his job as a cabby and earns his living, so he is no longer depending on relatives. He realises his proposed degree in Art History, which he only began out of sheer apathy in the first place, will get him nowhere he wanted to go anyway. Ironically, it's when he gives up trying to be or do something amazing, that something quite exciting (albeit not earth-shattering) does in fact happen to him through a combination of happenstance and pushing from his latest girlfriend.

There is a strong thread of cynicism and black humour running through the novel which stops it being maudlin or self-pitying.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. I haven't read any of Glavnic's work before, but would be keen to try more after this.
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VINE VOICEon 13 November 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Loved this book. It's a bit of a strange one, this, but that's just how I like it. It's a bit 'stream of consciousness' style, but the main character is talking to himself about himself, it's all 'you decide.... you go to...'. This is a book about a strange young man, with an even stranger family, trying to figure out life. It's awkward, it's funny, it's crazy. I really did enjoy this and will look for the author's other book.
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on 15 January 2013
total boredom from start to finish, forced myself to carry on reading about a lazy clinically obese moron bum his way through life. even the author got bored and described several years of Charlie's life in single sentences. awful. you think a book that bad has got to have something in it worth the wait. it didn't happen.
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