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Boat, The

by Nam Le
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Canongate Books-Great Britian
  • Publishing date: 2009
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9781847671615
  • ISBN: 1847671616

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  • Is it a boat or a bandwagon?
    From Amazon

    Absurdly overhyped. How is it possible that one book of meandering and generic multi-culti stories should receive so many awards and so much praise? I enjoyed the stories, but was not extraordinarily impressed. I saw him read, and he read the Iowa workshop story, in which he washes the dishes, has sex with his girlfriend, walks past a local and imagines that the guy shoots him in his leg, and on and on, and then to top off this exercise in workshop drivel, he ends the story with his father suddenly revealing that he is a survivor of the My Lai massacre, giving a heartwrenching account of witnessing the murder of his family. From the comments made after the reading, it became apparent that his father was not in fact at My Lai, and that the account is there merely as a final flourish to an otherwise meaningless banal piece. I found Nam Le's blatant exploitation of the suffering of other people as a cheap gimmick for his story pretty shocking.

  • Excuse me, sir, I asked for a regular soda; not a diet one.
    From Amazon

    I had high expectations for this book- the back cover listed awards and much praise. Then I read the book. Cover to cover. Some of the stories were slightly interesting, but the one titled, Hiroshima, was absolutely painful to read. I think I would have rather eaten a bug, that had crawled though its own feces, then got eaten by a bird, and finally was regurgitated into my mouth. Another thing that I disliked was Nam Le's use of simile. For me, it missed the mark on almost every occasion. It felt like it was written by a person who has lived a sheltered life; a person that was given the best education, but never "lived" a day in his life. Someone who could walk into their home after a long day and not worry about trekking grime all over their carpet, because they didn't walk through any areas that held grime. And I like grime in a novel. Additionally, the book contained copious amount of description, extraneous explanations after dialogue- it felt like I had been placed into a highchair, bibbed, and then spoon fed by Nam Le as he sang: "Ah, ah, baby... ah, ah, baby." Treat your readers with respect if you want them to buy another one of your books. Then there was Le's choice to exclude proper punctuation in some stories- at times I wasn't sure if a passage was exposition, dialogue, or something else entirely. It was like reading a Cormac McCarthy novel (if Cormac had been bopped over the head with a mallet before he sat down to compose). In the end, I felt like I had bought a diet brand soda. It was a soda all right, but it lacked all of the tasty junk that makes me say, ahh! And then go for another sip.

  • A painfully beautiful paradox
    From Amazon

    This is a book for those who believe that well-constructed art is not just what's nice to look at, but that which effectively causes the observer to feel. It's an extraordinarily poignant collection of stories about far-flung places and times that starts with a memory of Vietnam, penetrates the dark world of Colombia's slumlords, and accompanies an adolescent boy in a remote Australian fishing village as he navigates the dichotomous journeys of losing his mother and experiencing his first love. It wades through the glittering emotional wreckage of an ailing, estranged father in New York City, follows a child through the prelude to the bombing of Hiroshima in Japan, traces the steps of a woman's fight for equilibrium in Iran, and at last, in a poetically symmetrical terminus, returns to Vietnam, in a languishing vessel full of refugees searching desperately for escape. The book is difficult emotionally, with few likable characters, and yet the author conclusively transports the reader to each vastly different location and era, and straight to the core of each disparate mind, with a truly startling sense of reality. One continuously striking aspect of these stories is that they uniformly lack dénouement. Each one ends at its apex, leaving the reader mid-plunge and without the ballast of resolution. While this technique was at first frustrating for me, once I found my balance in it, I came to see it as a skillful illustration of the fact that life is about the journey, and the destination is meant for mystery.

  • Well written, dreadfully depressing
    From Amazon

    These short stories are some of the most depressing works of fiction I have read in some time. I only made it through the first three stories entirely before jumping ahead to the others to find out something as devastatingly horrible happens in the remaining stories. While they were extremely vivid and well written, be warned of the sad state of all of the characters who have little happiness in their lives. The content is not for those who are on the edge emotionally!

  • Just OK - Kinda Flat
    From Amazon

    I really looked forward to reading this based on various reviews I read, but could only get through the first three stories. They just weren't particularly interesting and I couldn't relate to or care about any of the characters. Seemed like the goal was "good writing" rather than "writing well" = meaning the emphasis was on the prose and style and what was missing was any connection to the story and any attempt to involve the reader. Thus, just OK for me.

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