Feb 11 2014 2:30pm

Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale is a Failure that Genre Fans Must Experience

Winter's Tale Mark Helprin

This book. Did you know it was a book? Did you know it’s going to be a questionable movie this week? There’s a magic horse in it.

Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale is such an odd brick of a thing. It’s essentially a fantasy novel set in a New York City that isn’t New York City, except actually it’s a character drama steeped in magical realism and the actual character you’re following is the coming and going of New York City itself. And maybe not even that.

I think the magic horse is supposed to represent God?

I’m being dismissive, but that’s the kind of attitude that Winter’s Tale tends to bring out in some readers. Of course, if that were the only reaction the book garnered we wouldn’t be considering it today. For every snide remark made, Helprin’s genre-defying doorstopper also provokes an equal and opposite feeling of rapture within the reader. The sheer emotional distance between these two reactions is fascinating. You can find someone who will eagerly tear the book down and someone who will just as eagerly tell you about how the book changed their life, and neither reaction would be a misreading of the text. Winter’s Tale’s failures and triumphs are so cohesively bound together that it becomes required reading solely on the basis of how you will react to it.

How those failures and triumphs (we’ll get to those) mix with each other to form Winter’s Tale makes the 1983 near-classic of particular note to readers of genre fiction. It occupies an interesting cultural space at the moment, stuck between what is classically considered epic fantasy and what is currently considered literary fiction. The book has been ballyhooed enough since its release that you could safely bunch it in with David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. Both books present a similar challenge and hold a similar esteem in the eyes of those contemplating that challenge. Both books re-paint the real world into something a little less known, a little more magical, and both of them expect the detail dedicated to these skewed worlds to propel the plot in a way that is baffling to readers accustomed to more conventional fiction.

They’re also both massive, massive tomes that don’t really end. (Spoilers?) And although Winter’s Tale is one of the most memorable books you’ll probably ever read, it’s also one of the most frustrating. You can read it from start to finish and never know what happened in the story. What follows is the best recollection I can muster. (I hope those of you in the front row brought a tarp. This is going to get messy.)

We begin in early 20th century steampunk New York City where we follow the tale of greasy mechanic Peter Lake. He’s helping build the Brooklyn Bridge and he’ll time travel later to see it finished so I think, in a sense, his arms encircle the city because working class? Just like the weird cloud wall that circles the city, bobbling up and down and eating anything that tries to travel through it. Sometimes. There’s lots of travel through it later and the city sustains itself somehow so, I don’t know. This might have been a first draft concept ditched in later drafts but too cool to get rid of entirely.

Peter Lake breaks into the home of the wealthy Penn family and when I say wealthy I mean Rockefeller-type-bedrock-of-the-city-our-name-is-on-everything-how-do-you-even-pronounce-Schermerhorn? wealthy. So wealthy that their house gets to be in Central Park (I think) because why not, they pay for it possibly. He ends up falling in love with the Penns’ sick daughter Beverly.

Beverly is weird. She insists on always being in freezing temperatures, is ethereal in her beauty, writes equations she thinks describe the movements of the universe despite having no training in the sciences, and although she is young and terminally ill, she is Wise Beyond Her Years and lives on an actual pedestal on the roof of the house.

Beverly has to die! She is too special for this world and so the plot demands that her Constant Tuberculosis must eat her away from within. Peter Lake and Beverly Penn must have a romance that shakes the heavens and ends in tragedy or else Peter has no reason to abandon his newfound sophistication and get chased into the future by his old gang.

HIS OLD GANG. I almost forgot about those guys. They keep showing up in the plot demanding to be taken seriously as a threat, existing within this space of banality in society, too boring to be taken seriously and too hyper-violent to stick around and get caught doing bad things. Their leader is named Pearly Soames and honestly all I imagine upon hearing that name is this:

Pearly’s gang is maybe a symptom of a larger class war brewing in the city but this isn’t explicit and really I might be imagining this because Peter Lake and Beverly’s courtship is so lacking that I have to make things up to pass the time.

Here is how the Beverly/Penn romance actually progresses:

  • Peter breaks into their house and watches Beverly take a bath.
  • Peter gets a quick approval from the Penn patriarch.
  • Beverly and Peter go to a dance.
  • Beverly dies offscreen.
  • You put the book down and go do something constructive.

There’s still 3/4ths of Winter’s Tale to go after this and author Mark Helprin isn’t done throwing page-long descriptions of snow drifts at you, so he starts over and suddenly we are following a single mother, an industrial heir, and a couple other people who I kept forgetting the purpose of, about a century later as the year 2000 approaches.

Keep in mind that this was written largely in the late 1970s, so its vision of a millennial New York City is informed by the awful state that the city was in at that time. The streets of this NYC 1999 are empty of double-deckered tour busses advertising TV shows that debuted two months ago, Times Square is empty of Olive Gardens and those Olive Gardens are similarly empty of young Ryan Britts. Williamsburg isn’t happening yet. There are probably blimps everywhere.

These new characters slowly come together and form a literati of sorts under the umbrella of what is apparently the most noble newspaper in the history of mankind, The Sun. These characters are only characters in the sense that they are people with names who conduct actions that we can follow from page to page. In every other sense of the word they are empty. And gifted! So gifted. One of them makes his way to the city by playing flawless games of poker, even though he’s never played poker in his life, because he’s just so attuned to greatness or the One Power or something that he can go inside himself and…you know, I don’t even know. These characters are all simply presented to us as The Privileged, which is possibly the worst way to get us to sympathize with them.

They all land jobs at The Sun and exploring New York City through this lens makes them fall in love with it and each other. It’s at this point that the word “just” starts to get layered in more thickly. Not “just” as in “I just want relatable characters” but “just” as in “This is a most just and honorable sandwich.” (SPOILER: There are no sandwiches in this book.)

To honor the 500th straight description of winter, Winter’s Tale begins assembling the idea that every thread that has been precipitously dropped so far will come back into play, kicking off a chain reaction that will result in this near-magical NYC being transmuted into a literal heaven on Earth.

Helprin is a charismatic enough writer to pull this kind of metaphysical twist off. I joke that there are about 500 descriptions of winter in this book, and there are, but those descriptions are rich, varied, evocative descriptions nonetheless. Helprin’s visuals glimmer boundlessly and he’s possibly one of the few writers living whom you could trust to describe Heaven arriving on Earth.

Unfortunately, this also means he writes very broadly as a result. Things happen in Winter’s Tale because the author requires it, or because they’re meant to represent a philosophical tenet, or meant to evoke religious myth, not because the characters are reacting emotionally (or even physically) to what they experience. When the author needs Beverly and Peter to fall in love, they do so immediately. When the single mother (Virginia) needs a job, she runs into people who are so sparkled by her knowledge and wit (undemonstrated to the reader) that they give her a job for life. When a secondary character threatens to run for mayor as an anarchist joke, he actually succeeds. The story becomes flat and unengaging as a result. The characters do random things, succeed, and move on to the next random thing. And it is always ever winter.

Then, the ending: [highlight to read]

Peter Lake gets spat back out into the future (sans magic horse!), gets a job serving the literati, and sacrifices his life so that a child that fell sick can be reborn? Also, some other folks are getting really excited about the construction of significant decreases in rent a bridge of light that will usher in a state of heaven in NYC.

This is possibly the ultimate insult to Pearly Soames and his gang. They are so boring that the book itself has shifted to a timeframe where they are sure to have perished long ago, either through fire, or drinking, or drinking fire. Soames cannot stand for this, so he and the gang also hop into the future somehow and burn the city down before the bridge of light can align.[end highlight]

Imagine if your favorite epic fantasy series spent book after book building its world, ensuring that there was a reason we were following seemingly insignificant characters, and then just gave up. No stunning victory or bittersweet defeat. Just…nothing. A great big, “Nevermind. Turns out there was no point to any of this, and the world will keep spinning whether we’re paying attention to it or not. But hey, cool magic horse, right?” That’s the feeling you get after reading Winter’s Tale. The investment you put into this book disappears. To those of us accustomed to epic fantasy, or genre fiction in general, it’s hard to imagine why this book is held in such esteem.

Despite the drunken Jenga pile that its story consists of, Winter’s Tale is rewarding in a way that only the truly best genre fiction and epic fantasy can be. The world depicted in this book resonates with you long after you’ve thrown your paperback copy into the snow bank outside your front door.

I can list a handful of moments that have stuck with me in the years since I’ve read the book. (And it has been years, in case the above cracked-out description of the plot didn’t make that apparent.) Some are to the book’s detriment but some of these moments are so unique that they can only have been borne of the specific mixture of fantasy and reality that Winter’s Tale provides.

The shimmering, massive, undulating cloud wall is one. By simply stating that it’s there, Helprin effectively cuts us off from reality while simultaneously spurring on a sense of exploration and adventure. The dank caves where Pearly Soames and his gang lurk wind through NYC’s massive aqueducts and underground waterways, making it feel as if there’s a world hanging upside down beneath Manhattan, running and churning and destroying any who come too close to it.

Winter itself becomes visualized in a number of ways, from how the city expands onto the frozen Hudson River (seems impossible now that hitting zero-degree temps is so rare in the city, but Helprin is exaggerating only a little) to snow drifts so high they must be scaled like mountains. Beverly herself becomes an enrapturing figure when you imagine her upon the roof, peering into a night with stars just a little too large to be real, so weightless she is nearly transparent.

Helprin has a real gift in suffusing his visuals with breath and light, so much so that it would take a truly gifted filmmaker to translate that to the screen. (There would have to be lens flare, but not just lens flare.) Deep blues, snowblind whites, and swaths of bronze color the world that Helprin depicts. The air of the very novel carries a winter crisp to it and even at their warmest, you can’t help but imagine a chill constantly edging in around the characters. When the book unveils its Big Idea: that the contours of NYC in winter, when perfected, can combine all light to form a bridge to heaven, you believe it.

Winter's Tale movie

Winter’s Tale becomes a love letter to New York City in this regard, and that adoration can be found all throughout the book in the care Helprin takes to describe the sheer variety of what can be found here, both in the present day and throughout the city’s history. You can go from the utter chaos of Five Points, to the massive industrialization of Brooklyn Bridge, to the long-since paved over oyster swamps of Red Hook, to the posh tranquility of the Penn Manor, to the caverns lurking beneath our feet, to the buzz and ink of The Sun, and on and on.

In a roundabout way, by making New York City a near-fantasy kingdom Winter’s Tale succeeds in defining the city’s true appeal. Enhancing it via magical realism brings out its true vibrancy as a city where, on your best days you’ll find yourself slipping between any number of worlds and across any number of stories. There is chaos in New York City, but there is also tremendous glory, and Winter’s Tale understands that in a way that a more direct narrative could not visualize. I love the book for pulling this off by using the conventions of genre. Here is where the book triumphs.

And overall, that’s probably why the book is such highly esteemed recommended reading. You’re either going to hate it or you’re going to love it, but either way you’re going to feel something. Ultimately that may be the key to it standing the test of time and becoming a piece of classic literature. Winter’s Tale doesn’t require your approval to be an evocative experience. Its world will exist with or without your eyes.

For artists and writers, especially those who favor genre fiction, Winter’s Tale is perhaps most importantly a horizon-broadening experience. You can go this far afield in your narrative, craft lush vistas that none will ever truly see, weave the past and future into something new. Essentially, Winter’s Tale is a roadmap to keep you pushing the world you’re creating, or the canvas you’re painting, into new territories. Even if the end product does frustrate the hell out of certain people writing this article.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I should probably go retrieve my copy from the snow bank outside my front door.

Chris Lough had a whole Infinite Jest sex joke he ended up cutting from the article for clarity. When he’s not being mean about Winter’s Tale you can find him being mean about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on Tor.com. And probably on Twitter.

This article is part of Genre in the Mainstream: ‹ previous | index | next ›
Scott Silver
1. hihosilver28
Chris, I'd be interested to hear an editorial of your opinions on Infinite Jest now (and also curious about the IJ sex joke that you had for this article). I only have a hundred pages left in the book, and it's been one hell of a ride. And also a book that is important to genre readers as well, I would think.
2. betweenparentheses
Every time I sit down and ponder reading this book, I think, "But I could just reread Little, Big instead."
3. philolexian
I hear each and every one of your critiques, and agree with some of them (when I first read this at 17 some of the more questionable politics drifted right past me, being expertly camoflaged by my own inexperience and a mountain of imagery), but even so I could not disagree with your reading and analysis more strongly. A one of the readers on the other side of the (apparenty near-ideological) divide of opinion, I found WT to be breathtaking, beautifully written ,and an experience that swept me up in the series of stories such that I found myself living in New York where I've been for over twenty years.

While many of the characters are twee or too-good-to-be-true (one of the genre's great failing in general, I think), the writing and some of the imagery along stand as strong with me today as the first time I read it.

(Also -- your conclusions regading the grtand finale are glib, but I think a little imstaken, to say the least.)

A bigger question, which I think will help me understand this a little more: how old were you when you read the book? Is this one of those things that grabs people at a particular age (like other doorstoopper books can to adolescents)?
4. mlbolton
I am a voracious reader and this book Winter's Tale is one of the few that I have re-read and enjoyed more each time I have read it. It is beautiful and musical and I am on the I-love-it side....
5. Gwynwyffar
I have always categorized Winter's Tale among some of my favorite books, but mostly because of the magical way it presents NYC. Every time I enter Grand Central Station I think of that book and the way Peter describes the ceiling. Having read some of Helprin's other novels (Memoir from Antproof Case comes to mind), he definitely likes to wander around, but he takes the reader with him and he has a way of making you experience the world differently.

Is there a plot? No, not really, but I'm not sure it matters. As you say, you definitely come away feeling something. However, I have no idea how anyone can turn this into a cohesive film. I guess we shall see.
6. ChrisJ
I read "Winter's Tale" when it came out, what, 10-20 yrs ago? I was definitely not a fan. It was trying way too hard to squeeze magic out of NYC.
Chris Lough
7. TorChris
@3 philolexian. I was in my early 20s and far more unfamiliar with NYC when I first read the book. Considering age and accumulation of knowledge/culture I imagine has a definite effect on what a reader appreciates within Winter's Tale. I certainly have a different reaction to the book now than I did when I first read it, and those two reactions are essentially what I'm comparing within the article.
Emmet O'Brien
8. EmmetAOBrien
betweenparentheses@2: Winter's Tale shares with Little, Big and indeed the sequence starting with Aegypt, for me, an amazing capacity to melt out of my mind very shortly after being read; I'd have great difficulty saying anything meaningful about any of them save for the vague impression of some lovely writing on a sentence by sentence level. I don't, fwiw, have that reaction to much of Crowley's earlier work, not to The Deep or Beasts or "The Great Work of Time".
Derek Broughton
9. auspex
Hah! You're wrong: practically nothing of it has remained in my memory (the cloud!). Thankfully, if my Goodreads review is to be believed…

I quit this at page 349! I don't think I've ever got that far into a book and still given up.
Robert Trayers
11. rpt.mal
It took me a while to get into this book when I first started it, then I realized that it isn't a literal NYC with magical realist elements, but an idealized NYC. It is the realization of the idealized state that is thwarted by Soames. Once I came at it from that angle I devoured it and it remains on my shelves for re-reading.

I suspect the movie will simplify the plot into a magical realist love story in the same way as the 2002 Soderburgh version of Solaris.
12. lightninglouie
I think the problem is that you're trying to read the book according to the rules of modern genre fantasy, where magic is supposed to work along specific rules and stories are supposed to follow direct causal logic. I don't think Helprin was thinking in those terms -- it's supposed to be a religious allegory of sorts about the Millennium and neo-Platonic concepts of Truth and Beauty, etc. that sometimes feels like an adventure story and sometimes feels like a capital-R Romance but really isn't any of those things. I'm sure if you suggested to him that it was a fantasy novel he'd look at you crosswise. He probably wouldn't like "magical realism" either, but that's a much better descriptor, and more than anything else the novel demonstrates the key differences between fantasy literature and magical realism.

The parallels with Little, Big are interesting but largely coincidental -- they were written around the same time, and are set in and around New York in the late 1800s and around 2000, but that's really about it. Helprin is a conservative who used to write for Buckley's National Review and Crowley is pretty much a countercultural writer. Neither has read the other's book. I think frankly Crowley is the better writer by far, though there are some wonderful scenes in Winter's Tale's opening 200 pages.

Then again, I used to fantasize that they were actually about the same thing and taking place in the real world; the arrival of the Millennium and the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth in Helprin matches up pretty nicely with the final departure of the fairies in Crowley. And Helprin might have approved of Russell Eigenblick's politics...
Tex Anne
13. TexAnne
High-school me pretty much memorized this book instead of doing homework. Current me is never, ever going to read it again, in case of Suck Fairy.
14. Tehanu
I gave up on page 7. Possibly the problem was that a friend recommended it to me on the basis that "It's so beautifully written." I HATE "beautiful" writing which always strikes me as pretentious. If the story doesn't tell itself, it's not worth reading. Having now read your description I'm not sorry.
Percy Sowner
15. percysowner
I'm with yo u #14. I tried twice to read it and got maybe through chaper 1 and decided I just didn't care.
16. Eugene R.
I read Winter's Tale "on assignment" for the mother of a friend, who thought the writing was superb but could not grasp the narrative, giving up after 3 attempts to read it. After I finished it, I told her, "Don't think contemporary writing. Think Dickens." She did, and she finished it.
Richard Schatz
17. schatzfam
I have not read the book, but saw a screening for the film today. My thought at seeing the film was that it was overly complicated and did not make a lot of sense. It is being advertised as a Valentine's Day fantasy, but it does not really succeed on those terms (or pretty much any terms). I was thinking maybe I should read the book on the supposition that the film did not do the book justice - but upon reading this article maybe it was the source material that was the problem. With that said, my sense is that even those who loved the book may not like this adaptation.
18. Erin G
I loved this book so much when I read it in high school. I typed up whole passages to keep before I turned the book into the library (on a typewriter! It was a long time ago!) This is one book I'll never try to re-read because there's almost no way it could be as lovely as I remember it, and because I tried to read Mark Helprin's latest book and couldn't get past the first few pages. There's absolutely no way I'll see the movie.
CE Petit
19. Jaws
I think this description misses much of the point of Helprin's book (which is not to say that the book is anything close to flawless). Fundamentally, Winter's Tale is a Latin American magical realist work of the early-to-mid 1970s written in English with English-language settings... and one must keep in mind that even the magical realists didn't claim to know what they were doing.* Expecting it to conform to a coherent framework when no one had such a framework when it was written is a bit... unrealistic (irony fully intended). People still read Ulysses... ok, a certain kind of nerd still reads Ulysses, which is my point. (Foreshadowing of graphic-novel-v-comics is fully intentional.)

It's better, I think, to consider Helprin's Winter's Tale as one of those not-entirely-successful experiments trying to measure the speed of light in the ether before Michelson and Morley... which, as most relevant here, ended up disproving the very existence of that which it attempted to measure. And it's an experiment in, about, around, and through language — something that every film adaptation in history bungles, so I know one place I won't be this weekend!

* Heard variously directly from Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Mario Vargas Llosa before Helprin's novel was published, thanks to a seminar series in my misspent youth.
20. lampwick
@ 12 -- I think there are more similarities between Little, Big and Winter's Tale than just the setting. Both are magic realist takes on New York; both travel through the city to show how parts of it are suffused with enchantment. (Both visit Grand Central Station, for example.)

My own opinion of the two is exactly that of @2 -- Little, Big is by far the superior book, showing the world in a new (magical) light, while I had a hard time getting through Winter's Tale. (Those descriptions of winter. Yeah.)
Nick Hlavacek
21. Nick31
I haven't read the book, and based on the review that's unlikely to change. One thing I will point out though is that William F. Buckley (who @12 mentioned earlier) often correctly pointed out that it was neither wise nor possible to "immanentize the eschaton", to try to create a heaven here on Earth. If the characters in this book fail to bring that about it wouldn't be surprising given Helprin's political background.
Shelly wb
22. shellywb
It's a shame that people may miss reading this book. If I'd read this post first I'd probably not have picked it up, but a friend I trusted recommended it and I loved it so much. It's a magical book, and that's the whole point. There doesn't have to be a system or logic to magic, it just is, and when it intersects with the world in the book it's simple something you accept and go with. The experience is the thing. It's one of those works that makes a genre better by stretching the definitions of it, and making people look at what they're doing in a different way.
Gilmoure Gylbard
23. Gilmoure
Whoa, that was a bit of a sacchrine review. Maybe de-coat it next time.

I first read WT as a teen, going through any books the local supermarket carried (no book store for 20 miles around). Totally didn't get it (was heavy Heinlein/Asimov/Niven/Gibson reader at time) but the writing was enough to hold me through the whole thing. Later, after reading 100 Years Solitude and Milagro Beanfield War, I came back to WT and it really resonated. And yeah, I've read Ulysses a few times as well since then (heh – daughter just asked about it last night, after seeing YouTube video comparing Ulysses and HomeStuck webcomic).

I think I may have read WT in the last 15 years but don't really remember; so much of the imagery has stayed with me. Still, I expect every movie to be made from a book I enjoy to disappoint at the least and infuriate most times. So, will wait for NetFlix availability and see how it does. Maybe we'll go see Lego movie this weekend.

Still, good excuse for WT re-read.
24. BRNZ
I read this back in the late 90s after I was exposed to the Interwebs and found the joy that was r.a.sf.w where this book was held up as a classic of its kind. So eventually I read it and what I can tell you about it was that I never finished it, have no idea what it was about (shimmering cloud??) and that it was appallingly written with no plot and no point and no engagement with the characters at all.
25. vva
Little bit of trivia, Martin Scorsese was set to direct an adaptation of this in the late 80s with a script by Melissa Mathison.

26. akzar
Read it in the mid 90s, most of what continues to endear me are the 'slice of life' episodes. Thieves sucking down oysters beside Robber Barrons and enjoying light conversation, skating hellhound down the frozen Hudson...

Also, tossing in a vid reference to a film that occurred a decade past the publishing date is a littler dubious.

gotta read it again I suppose.
27. Esoth
I read part of WT when it was published but then a giant snowbank consumed my copy. Then, one day, it came back! Only it was Perkus Tooth riding the Magic White Horse, which became a mechanical tiger, and lastly a giant robot made of mechanical lions, for pity's sake!
28. jfb
...just seen the movie... I don't read much but will look out for a copy of this book and perhaps also Little, Big
I would like to thank Mr. Helprin for publicly staiting what artisan and crafters know deep down.
29. doreet
Ii seem to remember a "Winter's Tale"from Shakespeare? Don't remember it,much, years ago.But this boring piece of sentimental, pointless junk wasted some good actors and millions of bucks,and I wish I had slept thru it. Give it an "F" for Flunk.
30. doreet
Now I'm SO GLAD I never read the book!BORING.And I'm someone who loved the movie"The Bridges of Madison County." But that romance stuck to it's own rules of it's story. Here, there's no one to relate to! If you cannot empathize or relate to anyone in a movie, and you don't care what happens to the charecters,(I finally lost all empathy with the completely wooden, stereotyped characters) then the movie is a failure. Even a fairy tale has to have the reader caring about someone in the story.This one had NOBODY. I could feel sorry for Jesus Christ getting crucified (i'm not a Christian) because even that very mythological (to me) charecter had a lot of reality in the context of the whole stoey. Whether or not you are a Christian, and believe in the Messiah, he and his charecters,friends, family, bad guys, Christian morals ("Let he who is without sin cast the 1rst stone")ect. all made some kind of sense. This did not.Not unless you were this author getting paid a lot of money.
31. Marie C
You hit the nail on the head. The writing kept me inspired and captivated, though at times, I was the little reader that could. And then finally, I discovered I was holding my breath only to let out an exasperated sigh. It was like "Lost" all over again.
32. Annica
What can I say. WT is the only book I've read twice and listened to on tape. I've tried to think of a single word to describe WT (and Helprin's other books) - the best I can do is "uplifting". The main character in Memoirs From an Antproof Case" is a "doctor of aesthetics", seeing beauty in the commonplace. This is Helprin, and his gift is describing the mundane in such a way that this reader is transported out of the ordinariness of life to magical realms. Suspend the need comprehend and simply allow yourself to be carried by the prose. Perhaps this is unsophisticated.

I saw the movie, out of curiousity how they could film the book. The title was misleading - it should have been called "Peter and Beverly". It wasn't a bad movie, just not Winter's Tale.
33. Lynn EM
I was listening to the Audio book couldn't listen much further than after Beverly died and everything started being a fantasy, couldn't tell if reality ever came back into play. Nothing was making sense. Had to stop and seek out a critique. Thank you - you've saved me a lot of time.
34. leonore05
Completely agree with the crtic up to retreivinIg the book. I liked some paets but overall was very frustrated. Stayed up late to finish it and then wondered why. Totally frustrating ending.
Need to read something stupid and simple to unbend my brain.
35. tallulah13
This is and always will be my favorite book, I suppose because I read it without expectation. I'm a surrealist at heart, so I enjoyed the fantastic setting and the people and I didn't worry about how they compared to other characters or how the book compared to other books.

It's one of those novels you're either going to love or hate. It's not a book for those who need structure and linear storytelling. It's for readers who enjoy the journey more than the finale.
36. OvertoneDeb
I hope I will have even ONE friend remaining from among my 12-member bookclub after selecting this horrendous novel for our next discussion. What a colossal waste of time, breath and ink! I had hoped that this book would further develop and explain the story line of the movie, but it really just served to obfuscate it, and to enrage me as I devoted tens of hours to reading this pointless story which never reached a conclusion. A true literary labotomy! Had I not been the one to suggest this book, I would have ditched it after it ran aground in the first third. I hope to obtain a hard copy of it from a club member so that we can burn it during our discussion. A fitting end for this piece of garbage!
38. Jack Daye
Tried twice to read this because the love of my life believes this is the most wonderful, magical book she's ever read.
My Spock-like logical, mechanical background stumbled over the inconsistancies. I did appreciate the descriptive passages, but it was like eating super-rich candy. Enough is too much, sometimes.
This time, I got to page 102 before I gave up. Never again. It's crap. Well written in places, but crap, nonetheless.
39. Frederick Williams
I think your review speaks more to your limited imagination than to the quality of literature it contains. Why not just drop it at some people like and some people don't?

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