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The Man Who Saw Everything

Narrated by: George Blagden
Length: 6 hrs and 5 mins
Categories: Fiction, Gay & Lesbian
4.5 out of 5 stars (38 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Longlisted for the Booker Prize

An electrifying novel about beauty, envy, and carelessness from Deborah Levy, author of the Booker Prize finalists Hot Milk and Swimming Home

It is 1988 and Saul Adler, a narcissistic young historian, has been invited to Communist East Berlin to do research; in exchange, he must publish a favorable essay about the German Democratic Republic. As a gift for his translator's sister, a Beatles fanatic who will be his host, Saul's girlfriend will shoot a photograph of him standing in the crosswalk on Abbey Road, an homage to the famous album cover. As he waits for her to arrive, he is grazed by an oncoming car, which changes the trajectory of his life. 

The Man Who Saw Everything is about the difficulty of seeing ourselves and others clearly. It greets the specters that come back to haunt old and new love, previous and current incarnations of Europe, conscious and unconscious transgressions, and real and imagined betrayals, while investigating the cyclic nature of history and its reinvention by people in power. Here, Levy traverses the vast reaches of the human imagination while artfully blurring sexual and political binaries - feminine and masculine.

©2019 Deborah Levy (P)2019 Recorded Books

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

intriguing history, okay story

The Man Who Saw Everything is a clever book which I will probably read again to pick up on the hidden gems. Ms. Levy uses an unreliable narrator, and twists the time lines to tell her story. I liked the way she used the second half of the book to call into question everything I thought I knew from reading the first half of the book. However, I must admit, I found myself confused too often. I didn't fully connect with the main character and that hurt my ability to fall in love with the reading experience.

I am a big fan of the Beatles and absolutely loved the little thread about the Abbey Road album and its cover. When I was in high school (in the late 1970s) I could have told you every detail of this cover and the lore surrounding it. This book made me feel reminiscent and nostalgic. I don't think this part of the story was most important, but it was my favorite nonetheless.

The writing style is very good. The history is interesting and the research is thorough. For all of this I am giving the book 4 stars. However if I rated on enjoyment and connection only, I would have given it only 3.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Delicately written, but not holding together entirely

Beautifully written, but the story somehow does not hold together until the end. Part three is confusing ( on purpose, I assume, but still) and leaves one with a somewhat unsatisfied feeling. A good read, nonetheless.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Does the Emperor Have Any Clothes

I can’t decide if this is a good book or merely an exercise in experimental writing that does not quite work. Certain passages are intense and moving and others belong in another book.

Years apart on Abbey Road. There are two traffic accidents involving the same victim. think there was only one accident and the narrative is the morphine jumbled musing of the injured traffic victim. I could be wrong but the book make more (but not complete) sense ) sense that way.

The book is intriguing and mysterious but a little too clever and smug.