prefers the darker side of fiction
really wanted to like this story, but it simply didn't work for me. i love a well-written tale of despair and this certainly fits the description, but i found myself waiting for it to end. if you like your fiction dark (I do) and value writing over story (I don't), this might work out better for you.
What exactly is the author trying to say with this book? Is he selling us existentialism through this novel? Perhaps. What is he saying about the central couple’s relationship, both with each and with their friends? This too is unclear. The two main protagonists are trying to reach out to each other, but do they succeed? This circles back to the author’s philosophical message. Perhaps it is enough that the book draws our attention to these questions. The answers are not clear.
What does the author want to say with the title? This too is unclear, but worth discussion.
The first half of the book is very different from the second half. I do not feel the two hold together. The first half focuses on philosophy. The first half has many parallels with Camus’ “The Stranger”. Both are set in Africa, one in Morocco and the other in Algeria. There is a streetcar in both. In neither is it the individuals that control their lives, but rather the other way around. Life just happens and you must submit. The second half has a completely different style of writing. You switch from philosophical analysis to a plot oriented, adventure story reminiscent of “One Thousand and One Nights”. Depending on your preferences you will like one or the other…..but not both.
The audiobook narration by Jennifer Connelly is very well done. She distinguishes between English and American characters. They do make you smile…. Maybe this is because I now live in Europe? French, English and Arabic languages are used; this is done adroitly. The languages are not translated. Although I don’t see this as a problem, I was happy that I easily understood the French. The slang chosen felt genuine; that is exactly how people would express themselves.
A central theme of the book is the difference between travelers and tourists. In fact this is why I chose the book, having myself lived in different countries. The main protagonists see themselves as travelers, but I felt they acted often as tourists. Rather than being curious about a new environment and culture they were d-i-s-g-u-s-t-e-d and apathetic. They couldn’t possibly have thought that the difficulties that arose and the filth they saw were anything but to be expected! They seemed to be looking for a clean problem free journey. This seems terribly illogical. Part of this IS explained by the difference between the man and the women, and it is interesting to consider which one of them really was the “traveler”.
There are loose ends in this novel, characters thrown in that one cannot fully understand. What happens to them is left completely unresolved. Nope this was not well done.
There is quite a bit that can be discussed in this book, but I can only give it two stars. It was not terrible, but just OK.
#1 Aud Bks: T Help,T Darling, All D Sedaris,Prayer for Owen M.All G Flynn ,Secrt Lang of Bees, Bel Canto, 11/22/63 H2O fr Elephants Dog Star
Superb performance by the reader.
I suppose the book itself was evocative of the desert in N. Africa to some extent, but none of the characters were sympathetic. I just wanted to slap them in the face and say "get a grip". They were mostly wallowing in some malaise along the lines of " Oh, the horror, the horror of it all (life)". Pathetic.
Save your time unless you like (pathetic) losers.
Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.
I have been awaiting some time a copy of Bertolucci's movie to arrive. In the meantime I listened over and over to the Police's "Tea in the Sahara". When the DVD arrived it was from the wrong zone. So it's taken some time to complete the circle of information that I wanted before I commenced on the review. In a way, the waiting was a fair reflection of the tedium that the book so casually describes. "Casual" is an appropriate word too, because Port and Kit (the protagonists) remind me of Fitzgerald's "careless people"; their lives are so self-absorbed, it is really quite hard to like either of them. Tunner (the third leg of the stool) is not any more redeeming.
It took me a while to get into the novel. It wasn't until I started approaching it like a long, un-parsed poem, just listening to the words without really trying to make them mean too much that I started to get a feel for the solitude and lack of solicitude that Bowels brings to the whole landscape. On reflection now, I think it is an inspired piece of writing, but for a third of the novel, I struggled with it and with the narration.
When I got it, then I appreciated the narration that Jennifer Connelly brought to the words. The flat, toneless delivery contrasted so starkly with the eloquence of the language; "the meaningless hegemony of the voluntary" and the title driving, "Reach out. Pierce the fine fabric of the sheltering sky and take repose". Just writing the words brings forth the images that are so beautifully captured by Bertolucci's lens and Ryuichi Sakamoto's haunting theme.
I must say I loved this book more after I finished it than when reading it. That suggests to me that it is not for everyone. However, if you are the one for it, get yourself a copy of the film after you have finished listening. A young Malkovich and a very young Debra Winger. You won't regret the wait.
Not ever being published
If I want to be this depressed in the future, I'll gamble away my savings.
All three self-centered characters muddle about endlessly; so boring I almost dropped off to sleep while on my daily walk.
Not that I could see.
Before I got to part 3 of this book, I was thoroughly enjoying it. The writing is excellent, the characters lively, the story seemed to be going somewhere and the performance by Connelly was superb. Bowles did a wonderful job of giving the reader an idea of what traveling around Africa at that time was like, and being transported to another world is one of the things I love about reading books.
Then I read part 3 and the entire time I was trying to figure out if I was reading the same book with the same character. What Bowles has Kit go through is out of left field, I just didn't understand and it didn't fit the rest of the story at all.
This was just not my kinda book. It was a little slow, but I did like the narration
Didn't have one
Uninspiring story, monotonous characters and insipid story. Jennifer Connelly is unable to lift this dull tale into the monumental epoch it is supposed to be