May 20, 2007


Jon Hilderman

Liked your review... but if anything I think you were too forgiving. I found this book to be flat out apalling... it was the first novel I contemplated putting down out of sheer disgust and dissapointment in a long time. I really can't understand the interest it generated and any fan of Borges, Calvino, Auster, or even Murakami will probably find themselves insulted...


Lord above, loved the review, but praying you don't review my debut...

Lyn Lejeune

I got a latte, grande, found a chair as far away from the piped in music (why do they do that at bookstores??) and prepared for a good read - I had read some hyped reviews - but man - o- man after about 20 pages I felt as though I'd entered the Matrix and been stomped by the horse on the cover of Auster's new book. I guess it is all about tech-dreams, but I like a good story and high crafted works. Your review was right on....I will, perhaps, try again when I switch from latte to cognac. Lyn LeJeune
The Beatitudes Network - Rebuilding the public libraries of New Orleans at www.beatitudesinneworleans.blogspot.com


Just a nit: is it quite right to identify Clio as the "muse of memory?" Isn't she more commonly identified as the Muse of History? Of course, like all the muses, Clio is the daughter of Mnemnosyne, the Titan personifying of memory.


Damn, John - not a nit. An error, and you're quite right to point it out. I was stuck with Dante on the brain:

O Muses, o high genius, aid me now!
O memory that engraved the things I saw,

And although in this context, memory/history more or less speak to the same thing, I should have fact-checked it.

Brian Hadd

Flick watching destroyed conversational acuity I guess. The perception fish idea rocked however.

The Hood Company

Steven Augustine

Rorschach...*get it*? (nudge nudge)

DJ Cayenne

Wow. I'm surprised by the hostility towards this book. I thought that it was thought provoking, and I was flat out moved by the ending. I'm a huge fan of the book, and it will certainly make my list of year-end favorites.

Maybe I'm a chump for buying into it so completely, but I'm glad that I did.


When I finished this book, I was angry. It tried to wave away 300+ pages of tepid prose with a cheap gimmick. You can't retroactively add clever writing with cheap tricks, nice try though, Steven.



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  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."


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