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review 2017-07-11 19:33
The Dinner - Herman Koch,Sam Garrett
The most remarkable, and frustrating, thing about this novel is the fact that it takes place over the span of one dinner — hence the title. Our main players are two married couples, all with worries and dark motives and problems to work through. 

Paul is the main character; The Dinner is narrated by him. He is a sinister fellow, obviously with things to hide. Despite always being in his head, I didn't feel I ever really got to know him . . . same goes for the other characters, too. All of 'em. They intrigued me just enough to keep reading, but I wasn't totally enthralled. Maybe that's why it took me a week to read this 300-page paperback? 

I must award points for Herman Koch's marvelous prose, though! He (and the translator, I suppose) write beautifully, without selling the story out for pretentiousness or oversimplification. The author masterfully pulls the reader in wrong directions. I was often lulled into a false sense of complacency before having the rug pulled out from under me! I'm usually good at seeing twists coming, but a lot of the ones here were subtle and so well done. 

I would call this one a success, though I wasn't totally head over heels for it. The pacing is a bit slow, and the ending was a bit disappointing (not much was resolved? I think? this requires a reread), but I did have fun. I liked it. Hence the three stars. While I vastly preferred Summer House with Swimming PoolThe Dinner is a sinister, tasty meal.


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review 2016-12-09 00:00
Dear Mr. M: A Novel
Dear Mr. M: A Novel - Herman Koch A slow moving and complex tale that takes patience and time to unravel

Having loved the [b:The Dinner|15797938|The Dinner|Herman Koch|https://d2arxad8u2l0g7.cloudfront.net/books/1355949630s/15797938.jpg|6463092] I was really looking forward to[b:Dear Mr. M|28186095|Dear Mr. M|Herman Koch|https://d2arxad8u2l0g7.cloudfront.net/books/1472552544s/28186095.jpg|41364302] by Herman Koch.

The premise for the novel drew me in and Herman Korch's cast of dislikeable characters never fail to deliver. However I did find for the most part this story tedious and dull and while the first few chapters had me intrigued I did however find myself losing interest as the story is quite complex and difficult to follow and the end result was far from satisfying.

I have no doubt that Herman Koch is a clever and talented writer and his complex novels are certainly unique and creepy but while I loved the Dinner I am afraid I struggled to with Dear Mr M. right to the end.

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review 2016-10-14 00:00
Het diner
Het diner - Herman Koch Als je een beetje rondneust in de reviews van dit boek, zie je vooral 3 sterren ratings.
Deze 3 sterren ratings snap ik wel, na het lezen van hun reviews: ze vinden de karakters akelig, ze voelen er geen connectie mee, je kunt er geen sympathie voor opbrengen.
Nou, dat is maar goed ook!
Je moest je pas zorgen gaan maken, wanneer je wel een connectie voelt met de karakters.

Iedereen die mij(en mijn smaak in boeken) een beetje goed kent, weet dat ik dol ben op psychologische thrillers, en vooral wanneer ze complexe, duistere karakters bevatten, die totaal fucked up zijn.
Dus ja, de karakters zijn akelig, maar ik hou er van .

Het verhaal is opgesplitst in delen, deze delen staan voor de verschillende gangen van het diner: aperitief, voorgerecht, hoofdgerecht, toetje, digestief en fooi. Ik vond dit heel erg origineel bedacht.

Het enige minpuntje is de onwaarschijnlijkheid van het verhaal.
Niet de daad op zich - want, ongelooflijk maar waar - dat soort dingen gebeuren echt.
Maar dat er zo over gesproken wordt tijdens een diner in een restaurant.
Dit heeft er voor gezorgd dat ik 4 sterren geef in plaats van 5.

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review 2016-09-20 19:59
Dear Mr. M: A Novel - Herman Koch

This was my second book by Herman Koch and I must say he definitely has a different style of writing and I mean that in a good way. For some, it can be tedious, but I like it.

In this book, he starts off talking about an author and he's not always so complimentary about him. This goes on for several chapters. Then all of a sudden, he is talking about a group of teenagers and it seems to be coming out of left field. Then it's back to the author and about how he has married a woman who is about half his age and how the author has one foot in the grave and another one on a banana peel, then back to the teenagers. All along I was wondering what in the heck is this story about the teenagers doing in here.

Lo and behold the puzzle pieces start to fit and I discovered why they were in this book.

I really enjoyed reading this book, as I said though, it is rather tedious and can be slow in several places. However, if you can stay with it, it is definitely worth the time. There are some great laugh out loud moments and some jaw dropping moments.

Huge thanks to Crown Publishing and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2016-09-12 11:51
Dear Mr. M Review
Dear Mr. M: A Novel - Herman Koch

In subtext and content and delivery, Herman Koch says to novelists everywhere, "Do better." As a writer, I think I got a little more from this book than a non-writer would. I caught all the nods to form and style and competition. Sure, this book is a thriller, after a fashion, but it is also a punch in the face to the lazy writers of the world. Toward the end of the novel, there's a passage that gracefully explains my hatred for writers like James Patterson and Clive Cussler, these word mills employing authors-for-hire who will only ever be remembered for how many books they sold and not what their books were about. There is a place for their laziness and business savvy and quantity-over-quality approach, but, in my opinion, it is not the in the world of literature. No, not everything needs to be a work of art. I simply wish the books that have something to say, something meaningful to say, outsold the air-headed authors of the world.

Why, yes, Virginia, I am a book snob. Now kindly fuck off and let me get on with my review.

*clears throat and does a horrible impersonation of Movie-Theater-Voice Guy*

In a world of books whose titles all start with THE GIRL... and authors who regurgitate last year's bestsellers' lists, Herman Koch dares try something different.

Not necessarily new but indeed different.

Here is a story told in two different, usually-unpalatable styles: second-person close and third-person omniscient. You're gonna fuck up and find yourself more confused than Tom Cruise at a Chippendale's if you don't pay attention. The first third of the book is much different than the second third, but the last third brings everything together in a string of Ah-ha! moments. And then Koch brings everything home with a final, fitting twist. But, while this is, at its most basic, a literary thriller, its potency far exceeds that of other novels of its kind.

As always, Koch delivers on the nastiest details, but what I found startlingly hilarious was the description of M. I've seen interviews with Herman Koch, and I'm pretty sure he was describing himself. The unshaven face... the teeth... Koch is the kinda guy you imagine you can smell his breath through your computer screen, a sickly bitter aroma of old coffee and rotting food lurking at the gum line. In that sense, this book is quite meta. Here is Koch poking fun at himself while proving that, although he has his shortcomings, he's much better than most authors on today's bestsellers' lists. It's a bold statement. "I might be ugly and stinky, but I can do this one thing better than you." Koch doesn't have to tell us this, though. The work speaks for itself.

Yet I felt the burn of Koch's dissection of writers, too. He riffs on the authors who're "down to earth", those authors who are open to personal contact from their readers, authors who are approachable. While I've always loved having a personal relationship with my readers, I gotta say, Koch is right. I'm still an asshole. Why? Because, by making myself easily accessible, I am, in a way, saying I am better than those authors who choose to keep their distance. "Well, at least I'm not like So-and-So. He won't even return emails from fans. What a cockhead." But is the detached author a cockhead? No, he's not. Well, maybe he is, but being unapproachable doesn't not automatically mean he's a cockhead. He might simply be anti-social. Or perhaps he's an asshole who realizes he's an asshole and would rather be judged on his work than his demeanor. Such a person should be commended. At least I think so. I surely shouldn't be placed above him just because I choose to make myself available to readers.

Man, but this book brought some stuff to light for me. Made me change the way I see how I might be seen, and I gotta say, I don't care too much for my reflection. And isn't that the best part of good literature? When it in some way big or small turns the mirror on ourselves and perhaps makes us reevaluate the way we perceive something?

Holy shit, this book is good. Fuck. It's the kinda book that makes me less articulate. All I wanna do is cuss and bitch about how well written it is because, you know, I didn't fucking write it.

Oh, and no worries. I'm not going to distance myself from you guys. But I think I might stop talking about how I feel about my own work. After all, it's not my place. The books are published. They're yours now. Who cares if I don't like some of them? The only thing that matters is that some people do like them. And that should be enough.

In summation: All the rambling you've just read is brought to you by a guy who read a terrific book that changed the way he sees a few things. You might not have the same experience, and that's okay. I, for one, loved everything about this novel. Dear Mr. M should be required reading for every author.

Final Judgment: A mirror that shows the parts of us we'd rather not be able to see.

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