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Extraordinarily self-indulgent pretentious tosh which could only appeal to fashionable Americans who admire a fellow countryman with the courage to go abroad and even learn a foreign language. Tedious in the extreme. Funny? You must be joking!
For people who have a negative attitude towards those who suffer from a mental health disorder, this book will only serve to reinforce those stereotypes. If there was humor in this book it failed to reveal itself, wish I'd had the strength to put it down earlier. Save your money and buy Shantaram!
This is possibly the most depressing book I've read in many a year. The narrator, Adam Gordon, is self-important, intellectually arrogant and cold - if this is a roman à clef, I certainly hope I never run into the author, Ben Lerner. Yes, there is a fig-leaf of introspection and doubt employed - but it's the smallest leaf you can find. Poetry - immodestly described as "the most sacrosanct of arts" (sorry, Michelangelo) - is to the fore as Lerner marginalises nearly every discipline other novelists employ, such as a rich descriptive brush, a cocktail of interesting protagonists, or engaging dialogue. I can but wonder if this book found a publisher simply on account of Ben Lerner's reputation in his day-job as (guess what?) a poet. A final point; why does he bang on and on about smoking, whether cigarettes or spliffs? Is he so clever that the cancer risks, now well known, are of concern only to petite bourgeoisie dullards?