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review 2017-09-15 03:19
THE DINNER by Herman Koch
The Dinner - Herman Koch,Sam Garrett

Paul and Claire meet his brother, Serge and his wife Babette, for dinner one evening to talk about their children.  Serge is running for Prime Minister and wants to do damage control.  The other three have other ideas.

 

The story is told in flashbacks of the relationships and events of Paul's life.  I liked Paul but I never warmed to most of the characters.  I have a lot of questions for them. 

 

This is probably a book I would never have picked up on my own had it not been for my book club.  There is a lot to discuss and think about in this book.  How do people make the choices they do?  Very thought provoking and timely.

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review 2017-08-24 00:00
The Dinner
The Dinner - Herman Koch,Sam Garrett 3.5 stars

I don't know what to say about this book. Everyone in it seems to be crazy. I didn't know what was going on at first. Now that I've finished I don't know how to rate it. It's a weird story, but it's uniquely weird. I just don't know. This book is an experience for sure.
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review 2017-07-11 19:33
THE DINNER Review
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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text 2017-06-15 11:05
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text 2017-06-01 10:01
Literary dinner guests

After reading about a book blog question on a Swedish book blog, I began to consider what, if any, literary characters I would like to invite to dinner. I've been blogging about similar topics earlier, but not, I think, about inviting characters to dinner.

Dinner itself might be a little problematic, since I'm vegan and I wouldn't like to offer any guest of mine anything not vegan. However, there are plenty of common and popular dishes that are, or can easily be made, vegan. For instance pancakes, lasagna, potatoes au gratin etc. At least one of my guests is vegetarian and at least another might be positive to eating vegan food anyway, see further below.

As for the others, I'd simply have to cook something really delicious so their potential prejudices won't be realized.

When it comes to the actual guests I had to do a bit of thinking. Meeting characters face to face is different from merely reading about them. Many characters are fascinating to read about but would most likely not be very pleasant to meet in real life, if it were possible.

Still, after a bit of consideration, here is my list:

Cat and Janet (Charmed Life), Conrad (Conrad's Fate) and Nan (Witch Week) from Diana Wynne Jones Chrestomanci series.

Bix from Dinotopia by James Gurney.

Bix, who is a protoceratops, must be vegetarian, so a fresh salad would probably work for her. I would just hope that the human guests would accept sitting down to dinner with a talking animal. If not, I'd love to meet her one on one. Bix is so cute and I'd really love to get to know here better.

Lucy from C S Lewis' Narnia books.

In a passage in one of the books, Lucy reacts strongly when she finds out that a meat dish she's offered contains the remains of a talking animals, so I can imagine she'd be open to eating vegan food, to make sure that she's not consuming parts from a talking animal.

The Midwife Serafina Flores, from Susan Russo Anderson's historic mysteries set in 1860's Sicily (and later France). Serafina seems like such a nice person, but since she's from the 1860's the food might be a problem. Or maybe not. Maybe a simple pasta dish with tomato sauce, herbs and some pine nuts might do.

I would have loved to mention some Swedish characters but I couldn't think of any. I read some Swedish crime series and some children's and YA books, but the characters aren't the type of people I'd like to meet. In the books for younger people the main characters aren't that interesting, it's more the plot and the setting I appreciate.

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