logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Guilt
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-08-01 22:02
For discerning readers who enjoy books about the human condition
A Horse Walks into a Bar: A novel - David Grossman,Jessica Cohen

Thanks to NetGalley and to Random House UK, Vintage Publishing, Jonathan Cape for providing me with an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

This is the first book I’ve read by David Grossman. I hope it won’t be the last.

The description probably gives a fair idea of the plot. Yes, we are in Netanya, Israel, and we are spectators of the act of a stand-up comedian, Dovelah Greenstein (or Dov G.). He is 57 years old (as he repeatedly reminds us through the evening), skinny (almost emaciated), and seems to become increasingly desperate as the night goes. He tells jokes, anecdotes, makes comments about the city, the spectators, Jews (yes, the self-deprecation readers of Philip Roth, for example, will be familiar with), says some politically incorrect things, tells a number of jokes (some really funny, some odd, some quite old), and insists on telling us a story about his childhood, despite the audience’s resistance to listening to it.

The beauty (or one of them) of the novel, is the narrator. Yes, I’m back to my obsession with narrators. The story is told in the first-person by Avishai Lazar, a judge who was unceremoniously removed from his post when he started becoming a bit too vocal and opinionated in his verdicts. The two characters were friends as children, and Dov calls Avishai asking him to attend his performance. His request does not only come completely out of the blue (they hadn’t seen each other since they were in their teens), but it is also quite weird. He does not want a chat, or to catch up on old times. He wants the judge to tell him what he sees when he looks at him. He wants him to tell him what other people see, what essence they perceive when they watch him. Avishai, who is a widower and still grieving, is put-off by this and reacts quite rudely, but eventually, agrees.

Although the novel is about Dov’s performance and his story (his need to let it all hang out, to explain his abuse but also his feeling of guilt about a personal tragedy), that is at times light and funny, but mostly sad and even tragic, he is not the character who changes and grows the most during the performance (his is an act of exorcism, a way of getting rid of his demons). For me, the story, sad and depressing as it can be at times (this is not a book for everybody, and I suspect many readers will empathise with quite a few of the spectators who leave the performance before it ends), is ultimately about redemption. Many narrators have told us in the past (The Great Gatsby, Heart of Darkness) that in telling somebody else’s story, they are also telling their own. This is indeed the case here. The judge (at first we don’t know who is narrating the story, but we get more and more details as the performance advances) is very hostile at first and keeps wondering why he is there, and wanting to leave. But at some point, the rawness, the determination, and the sheer courage of the comedian, who keeps going no matter how difficult it gets, break through his protective shell and he starts to question his own actions and his life. If this might be Dev’s last performance, in a way it is a beginning of sorts, especially for the judge.

Readers become the ersatz club audience, and it is very difficult to stop watching something that is so extreme and desperate, but it is also difficult to keep watching (or reading) as it becomes more and more painful. It is as if we were spectators in a therapy session where somebody is baring his soul. We feel as if we are intruding on an intimate moment, but also that perhaps we are providing him with some comfort and support to help him go through the process. Although other than the two main characters we do not get to know the rest in detail, there are familiar types we might recognise, and there is also a woman who knew the comedian when he was a child and, perhaps, plays the part of the therapist (a straight faced one, but the one he needs).

The book is beautifully written and observed. Grossman shows a great understanding of psychology and also of group interactions. Although I am not an expert on stand-up comedy, the dynamics of the performance rang true to me. I cannot compare it to the original, but the translation is impressive (I find it difficult to imagine anybody could do a better job, and if the original is even better, well…).

As I said before, this is not a book for everybody. Although it is quite short, it is also slow and intense (its rhythm is that of the performance, which ebbs and flows). None of the characters (except, perhaps, the woman) are immediately sympathetic, and they are flawed, not confident enough or too confident and dismissive, over-emotional or frozen and unable to feel, and they might not seem to have much in common with the reader, at first sight. This is not a genre book (literary fiction would be the right label, if we had to try and give it one), there is no romance (or not conventional romance), no action, no heroes or heroines, and not much happens (a whole life happens, but not in the usual sense). If you are interested in characters that are real in their humanity (for better and for worse), don’t mind a challenge, and want to explore something beyond the usual, I recommend you this book.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2016-09-14 16:53
Oh, baby, you are so sick...
Father Figure - Guilt Pleasure,TogaQ,Kichiku Neko

Oh, baby, you are so sick.



Some characters are not built in order to be loved. They are supposed to be rejected, to be disgusting, to be considered monsters.

Gabriel is composed of that intrinsically dark matter real monsters are made. Rapists. Torturers. Murderers. People who don't feel guilt. Or enjoy making people suffer disregarding the other person's integrity and existence as a human being. Antisocial personality disorder, that sort of issues. Or what people usually know as 'psychos'. It's not that he enjoys hurting or humiliating people for the sake of it. He just doesn't stop to ponder whether or not his obsession or actions are bordering on insanity, and if he did, it would not be a matter to worry about, because he has already made up his mind. He wants it and the only question is how to get it. That's all. The prospect of whether or not the other person has the right to say something in the matter is just absent. He loves his father, in all the sense of the word, and that's all the permission he needs, notwithstanding what his very own father wants or doesn't want.

He knows the rules, he knows how to fit into society, he knows how to play the role. He knows them in order to know how to skip and avoid them. He's not sorry, he doesn't feel regrets, not because he doesn't want to, but because they simply don't exist. He doesn't feel what he does is morally bad, not been what that means. However, he hasn't lost the grasp on reality. He knows his obsession is one to be hidden, one society would ever accept, but he's apart from all of that, rules are beneath him, there is no reason why he should give up on it.

The love for his father deems irresistible and he only wants to revel in it, to achieve it no matter the cost, even if he destroys it by acting upon it. The ends are so compelling he doesn't even try to give any resistance. The means are only a nuisance, something he's forced to go through but which don't strike him as something to consider even for a moment. Not only to consider if they are justified or not, bad or good. Just, not worth to waste your time in even thinking in them.

You just want it. Everything else is irrelevant.



His voice is intriguingly seductive. It's not often we get to be inside the rawness of the mentally unstable antihero's head. It lures you into a trap. You resist but you cannot help it. You fall for him since the very beginning, since the very hint he's not exactly alright. He doesn't want to win your heart, he just states a fact with his creepily unashamed outlook on things, and you go for it.

You not only feel empathy, you even feel sympathy, for him. Compassion. Comprehension. Protectiveness.

The writing is so clever, so subtle and delicate, that you realize it's happening in front of your very eyes, since the very first scene, and you still take the bait nonetheless, disgusted and fascinated in equal parts.

There is beauty in perversion.

That's when you feel embarrassed because despite his own lack of humanity, you find out you are able to feel such things for him. To suffer for him. The need to comfort him. To love him. To save him from all harm.

And what does it say about you?



Nothing good. You are a sick bastard, too.

Gabriel is sick and twisted, and so much so. You are pushed out of your comfort zone constantly, being forced to witness his utter enthrallment for one person and one person only. Not a person per se, but the idea of a person.

The idea of a father.

You are repulsed to no end by what he does and how he does it and the reasons why he does it are so childish and strikingly tender he tempts you to forgive him. He's as tantalizing as that, a handsome devil who shows his own nakedness to the reader. He displays his true vulnerability with the most depraved of acts, with the most destructive of loves. He shatters his object of devotion and he shatters himself in the process, but that is collateral damage. It's a tragedy, but the alternative of letting go, of giving a different closure, it even more fateful. So, no secondary roads. His underdeveloped emotional sphere takes the reins of the situation and leaves all stability and sensibility behind. He is aware there is a expiration date but he does nothing to prevent it. He looks forward to it, even.

But the worst thing is, people around him are not immune.

Not even you.



The compulsion is stronger.



Awesome read.

The illustrations are incredible and so disturbingly erotic. Kudos.

Like Reblog Comment
review 2016-09-01 17:06
The Gods of Guilt - Michael Connelly

Defense attorney Mickey Haller returns with a haunting case in the gripping new thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly.

Mickey Haller gets the text, "Call me ASAP - 187," and the California penal code for murder immediately gets his attention. Murder cases have the highest stakes and the biggest paydays, and they always mean Haller has to be at the top of his game.

When Mickey learns that the victim was his own former client, a prostitute he thought he had rescued and put on the straight and narrow path, he knows he is on the hook for this one. He soon finds out that she was back in LA and back in the life. Far from saving her, Mickey may have been the one who put her in danger.

Haunted by the ghosts of his past, Mickey must work tirelessly and bring all his skill to bear on a case that could mean his ultimate redemption or proof of his ultimate guilt. The Gods of Guilt shows once again why "Michael Connelly excels, easily surpassing John Grisham in the building of courtroom suspense

What did I think of it:
OMG this was a hole lot better than I thought it would be, I knew going in to it that I would love it since its by Michael Connelly and I love his Harry Bosch series, and even though this is the this book 6 in the Mickey Haller series and the first time I've ever picked up one of the books from that series , I'm not afraid to say that I'm 100% hooked , loved every thing about it, once I started reading I was hooked, it had me pulled in to from the very start, didn't even want to put it down, and the character Mike Haller , doing the enter time I was reading it I kept picturing him to look like Matthew McConaughey, who played Mickey Haller in The Lincoln Lawyer movie,

 

 plus this book made me cry in some parts of it.

Like Reblog Comment
review 2016-07-28 22:54
What does it take to shatter a life?
Truly Madly Guilty - Liane Moriarty

Thanks to Net Galley and to Penguin UK- Michael Joseph for providing me with a free copy of the novel in exchange for an unbiased review.

I confess to having checked some of the reviews of the book and noticed that many of the comments compared this novel to some of this Australian writer’s previous work, particularly The Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies. This is the first of Moriarty’s novels I read and therefore I don’t know if this might be a disappointing read for those who have read the others.

The novel is clearly set from the beginning around something that happened at a barbeque (this being Australia, I guess it’s to be expected). The chapters alternate between the aftermath of the said barbeque (weeks later) and events that happened at the time, although we’re not told exactly what that was until half way through. It is evident that it was an event that affected everybody involved, but the author cleverly (although perhaps annoyingly for some readers) circles around the details and the circumstances of what happened without quite revealing it (and no, I won’t either).

The story is narrated in the third person from the various characters’ points of view, mostly those who were present at the barbeque (that includes Dakota, the young daughter of the couple who had invited the rest to their house), but also some that we only later realise were either involved in the incident or know something about it others don’t. I know some readers don’t like too many changes in viewpoint, although in this case the characters and their voices are sufficiently distinct to avoid confusion.

The three couples present at the incident are very different from each other. Erika and Oliver are a perfectly matched couple. Both grew up with difficult parents and survived disrupted childhoods, although not unscathed. They are organised and methodical and they do everything by the book (or so it seems). Clementine and Sam are the ‘opposites attract’ kind of couple. She is a musician, a cellist, and he doesn’t even like classical music. She is the artist and he is more down to earth. They have two daughters and they are impulsive, free for all and relaxed (although perhaps not as much as they seem). Camilla and Erika are childhood friends, although their friendship was instigated by Camilla’s mother, who became Erika’s heroine and role model, perfect motherhood personified.  Camilla feels guilty for resenting Erika’s interference in her childhood, because she’s aware of her family circumstances. But she still feels put upon. Erika’s feelings towards her friend are also complicated, mixing envy, disdain and some true affection.

The third couple, Vid and Tiffany, are Erika and Oliver’s neighbours, very rich, very loud, and seemingly perfect for each other. They enjoy life to the full and don’t mind vending the rules for fun or to get their own way. Although on the surface they seem harmless and good fun, they represent temptation and we later discover they might be darker than they appear. They don’t know the others very well but even they are affected by what happens.

The novel shows how a seemingly unimportant oversight can have an impact on many people’s lives, putting an end to innocence and burdening all with guilt, and how we all keep secrets, sometimes even from ourselves. The guilt we carry, justified or not, can put a terrible strain on relationships and lives and can affect people’s mental health.  The story builds up slowly and perhaps because of the emphasis on the event (that is not easy to guess and is kept under wraps for very long) it might result somewhat anticlimactic once it is revealed. For me it works like a puzzle where the pieces are being fitted together slowly, with an insistence on fitting first the outskirts of the picture rather than the centre of it. How much of the detail is necessary is debatable, and it also depends on how mucho you care for the characters, that are interesting but perhaps not that easy to identify with. There were flashes of humour, but very few and I understand from comments that the author’s previous books were funnier.

I enjoyed the ending that I found unexpectedly positive, although it is not earth-shattering. Two of the couples learn from the event and move on, and the third… not so much, although we get to understand the microcosms and all the characters much better by the end of the novel as they have grown more rounded and human . Although I don’t think this is a novel for everybody and it is not a page-turner, I hope to get to check the author’s previous work and I appreciate the quality of her writing, which is descriptive and precious.

 

Like Reblog Comment
review 2016-04-06 00:00
The Bad Boy's Guilt
The Bad Boy's Guilt - Sara Daniel The Bad Boy's Guilt - Sara Daniel Youth and foolishness lead to heartbreak and regret. Is forgiveness and a second chance in the cards for Wyatt and Nicole? I received a copy of The Bad Boy's Guilt in exchange for an honest review. With Nicole, Ms. Daniels hits the nail on the head. The feelings of youthful insecurity and innocence have haunted her into adulthood due to a crushing blow in her past. Coming face to face with her biggest mistake and heartache as an adult brings all the hurt and anger to the surface. Wyatt has always regretted his actions in regards to Nicole. In his immaturity he worried more about image and pride and less about the feelings of others, as an adult he looks at things somewhat differently and wants to make amends. Sara Daniels' with the Bad Boy's of Regret Hollow has created second chance stories that are easy to relate to and simple to understand.
More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?