I have always enjoyed Oliver Sacks' books of clinical tales, but this one is not his best. The focus is on non-psychotic hallucinations and the chapters often contain multiple case examples that continue long after the reader has gotten the message.
Clearly, Pamuk is a great prose stylist. The book is atmospheric and exotic, and there are parts that were fascinating. But his long metaphysical discussions of the mystical elements of miniaturist painting in 16th century Istanbul are heavy going and take up much of the book. I was reminded of Moby Dick; a great book if you skip over the endless descriptions of whales. On the positive side, the narrator is one of the best I have heard.
While many readers appreciate this book (and the rest of the series) I think it is under-rated. Not only is it among the bests work of American fantasy, it is a work of literature to be reckoned with. The prose is reminiscent of Conrad and Melville and the book provides many profound insights. The recording is also excellent and the reader sounds exactly as I imagined Severian to sound.
This is an amazing book. The author has an amazing ear for dialogue and the story never drags. I wonder if you have to have spent some time in lower Manhattan to truly appreciate how well he renders the scene, but even if you have not, this book will not disappoint.
Pretty good contemporary fantasy, but it didn't need to be as long as it is. Decent character development but the plot gets repetitive.
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