#FREE PDF ¹ All That Man Is è eBook or E-pub free

Average writer writes average fiction about average men and is nominated for an award bc he captures the average man If i wanted to read this sort of stuff I d read one of those focus pieces in esquire or gq. If you re interested in reading this collection of thematically linked stories, then you ve likely read the publisher s blurb We get nine stories of white, 8 9ths straight, European men who are traveling to destinations across Europe that are not home to them Whether it is a holiday or business that puts them in planes, trains, and automobiles, their temporary displacement affords them a moment here or there to ponder Life The men seem to portray a universal European Every Man We see the p If you re interested in reading this collection of thematically linked stories, then you ve likely read the publisher s blurb We get nine stories of white, 8 9ths straight, European men who are traveling to destinations across Europe that are not home to them Whether it is a holiday or business that puts them in planes, trains, and automobiles, their temporary displacement affords them a moment here or there to ponder Life The men seem to portray a universal European Every Man We see the progression from idealistic puppy love to lazy, hedonistic appreciation for life When a former soldier begins to fall for but ultimately loses a girl who too might be seen as unacceptable as the romantic partners in Stories One and Two, his disappointment doesn t last but a moment He is on the next pretty face behind a fast food counter I did laugh out loud in Story Three during a carpet cleaning scene, but that was the last smile I had for probably fourchapters These first three young men pleasure themselves regularly and don t appear to be headed for a relationship any time soon.As our Every Man ages, we see him become intensely focused on his career and note his appreciation for big boy toys cars True love means little, but intercourse does Whether it is an academic a philologist or the ruthless editor of a jackal like tabloid magazine, these men might not be interested in love but the reader has none for them, either.Man Six ages into a decent fellow, one with a dream of cutting loose from the big firm he is with and taking on risk in developing vacation homes in the Alps Like the man before him, he is a father of two, and while likely a better role model than shown in the story before him, the kids are not his focus Okay, so you get the trend, right The kid in his teens is decent, but basically from age 20 to about 50, Universal Man is mostly interested in sex and then power career social standing And then he is finally a nice human being again There is a cute little tie in you ll find near the end of the book that might be the very carrot to keep a reader going.I noted some odd, repeated objects that popped up in multiple stories a woman s dressing gown and a Tarot card ace of wands super phallic , and perhaps somebody smarter than me can explain the author s intent with these things I also saw a theme where the men were pursued by women they did not want Is this a common fantasy for men, and did including it mean something I don t know One thing that felt ridiculously heavy handed was the commentary one character had as he passed a brilliantly lit stadium while driving through Spain Instead of a football match, it was a bull fight He notes how incongruous it was to see giant klieg lights, fancy cars, state of the art services concessions, etc right there at such a ridiculously barbaric event UGH the blatant irony is this See, our guy is in process of eviscerating a Danish politician twice in one day, bringing the man to tears and is about to plaster it all over the world via his tabloid magazine Our Every Man, the tabloid editor, is going to gut this man s life just like the bull and will use the technology of the internet and cellphone tapping to tell the world I m sorry, but this one little thing was so overtly and crappily done, that I don t know how the Man Booker judges let it slide.Friends, I generally love books that have ugly, awful protagonists, so the fact that half of the nine men were jerks didn t bother me Maybe if I d spenttime with them say five men instead of nine I would have cared a tiny bit about them There are other collection of short stories that really were outstanding novels Nine Lives Death and Life in New Orleans and The Tsar of Love and Techno instantly come to mind, and that s rather what I expected from these nine.Indeed, I was not the right audience an American woman All it left me wondering was, is that all there is #FREE PDF â All That Man Is ñ Nine men Each of them at a different stage in life, each of them away from home, and each of them striving in the suburbs of Prague, in an overdeveloped Alpine village, beside a Belgian motorway, in a dingy Cyprus hotel to understand what it means to be alive, here and now Tracing a dramatic arc from the spring of youth to the winter of old age, the ostensibly separate narratives of All That Man Is aggregate into a picture of a single shared existence, a picture that interrogates the state of modern manhood while bringing to life, unforgettably, the physical and emotional terrain of an increasingly globalized Europe And so these nine lives form an ingenious and new kind of novel, in which David Szalay expertly plots a dark predicament for the twenty first century manDark and disturbing, but also often wickedly and uproariously comic, All That Man Is is notable for the acute psychological penetration Szalay brings to bear on his characters, from the working class ex grunt to the pompous college student, the middle aged loser to the Russian oligarch Steadily and mercilessly, as this brilliantly conceived book progresses, the protagonist at the center of each chapter is older than the last one, it gets colder out, and All That Man Is gathers exquisite power Szalay is a writer of supreme gifts a master of a new kind of realism that vibrates with detail, intelligence, relevance, and devastating pathos I found this to be an entirely uneven read, the individual short stories not seeming to connect enough to be considered a novel I would rather Szalay had reversed the order the youthful protagonists of the first offering were irritatingly dull and I m sure it negatively affected my enthusiasm for the rest of the work As the stages of life progressed, the people becameinteresting is that the point, maybe I m not sure but I never felt like I discovered anything profound about human beh I found this to be an entirely uneven read, the individual short stories not seeming to connect enough to be considered a novel I would rather Szalay had reversed the order the youthful protagonists of the first offering were irritatingly dull and I m sure it negatively affected my enthusiasm for the rest of the work As the stages of life progressed, the people becameinteresting is that the point, maybe I m not sure but I never felt like I discovered anything profound about human behaviour Some writers manage to develop character well within the limited framework of the short story but many of these had little depth and the often stilted conversation did not offer enough to balance it I think the author has talent, that comes through, but the form chosen here does not play to it I want to read a real novel by him and I intend to look at his previous writing Thank to David Szalay, Random House UK Vintage, and Netgalley for this copy in exchange for an honest review Having finished reading this year s Man Booker shortlist, I decided to go back to the one that eluded me last year I recall that at the time much of the debate was about whether such a disconnected set of stories should be regarded as a novel, and having read it now I am not entirely convinced It does have some thematic unity each of the nine parts focuses on a different man, in a different part of Europe, struggling with a crisis of confidence, and they do get progressively older as the boo Having finished reading this year s Man Booker shortlist, I decided to go back to the one that eluded me last year I recall that at the time much of the debate was about whether such a disconnected set of stories should be regarded as a novel, and having read it now I am not entirely convinced It does have some thematic unity each of the nine parts focuses on a different man, in a different part of Europe, struggling with a crisis of confidence, and they do get progressively older as the book goes on, but apart from that the stories have nothing in common.For me the later stories wereinteresting Szalay is clearly a versatile writer and creates some memorable situations, and the stories are funny at times, but he doesn t spare his characters much sympathy I hope the title was intended to be ironic, otherwise Szalay has a very bleak view of his fellow man.An interesting read, possibly worthy of its shortlist place but I didn t see it deservingthan that Leaving aside the over ambitious title for a minute, David Szalay s best writing is about ordinary working life, the bits of existence disproportionately absent from the world of literary fiction, where the jobs most people have are replaced with stories of writers, artists and perhaps the odd high flying lawyer That understanding of working life has a chance to come through in some of these nine stories sections about white British or European men of increasing age however I think that only o Leaving aside the over ambitious title for a minute, David Szalay s best writing is about ordinary working life, the bits of existence disproportionately absent from the world of literary fiction, where the jobs most people have are replaced with stories of writers, artists and perhaps the odd high flying lawyer That understanding of working life has a chance to come through in some of these nine stories sections about white British or European men of increasing age however I think that only one max out of the Oxford entrant English student, the London based Belgian philologist and the Danish tabloid journalist really should have been included as they are just way too litfic cliche The Oxford educated again estate agent isn t exactly representative either, but his story did at least have some things to say that arecommonly found in the business pages of a newspaper than in novels, about commercial matters and the shift of residence patterns in London asof the north side of the river becomes unaffordable even for the traditionally well off Basically, there are a lotpeople from households who have cleaners, than people who might be cleaners or who couldn t afford them There were a couple of down at heel types, but both were that way because of their own distinctly avoidable errors the lazy stoned French 21 year old Bernard, who gets fired from the sinecure his uncle provided, and Murray, a thoroughly objectionable Scot in his mid fifties who used to work in dodgy sales operations and then emigrated to Croatia I suspect that Murray who on nights out still seems to think he s 25 despite clearly being no catch is a continuation of a character from Szalay s novel London and the South East as he names its protagonist as a former colleague The other man distinctly on his uppers is Russian oligarch Aleksandr, and it seems that his mistakes too were the cause of his problems Literary fiction frequently reflects left wing values whether the conservative style philosophy of individual responsibility that comes through in these stories is intentional, or reflective of the author, or plain coincidental, I don t know But it s unobtrusive enough that all but the most strident lefty readers would probably consider it fair play, given how modern novels usually skew politically.Some stories, although interesting, were obviously derivative, and therefore felt to an extent like lazy filler especially when added to the fact that part 3 is a reworking of the Szalay piece from the 2013 Granta Best Young British Novelists issue Aleksandr has an awful lot in common with the late Boris Berezovsky, and the Copenhagen hack, Kristian, seemed to have been created after a binge watch of Borgen nearly all the characters share their names with those from that series or The Killing The phoned in impression of the Danish story was increased by poor attention to cultural detail in some matters, for instance assuming a British style sensibility on animal welfare, which is not quite the case The bigging up of a politician s affair also felt out of step with the times I am not quite sure how these are seen specifically in Denmark, but the country has one of the highest divorce rates in the world and a liberal attitude to activities like swinging and in Britain most such affairs are now not the career killers, or headlines, that they were in the Thatcher and Major years.A minor problem I ve seen in most of this year s Booker longlist has been authors who are a bit tone deaf in naming characters here Fair enough to have one person who s name s atypical for their age group, butdoesn t sit right The first story includes seventeen year olds called Simon and Karen, names that were most popular in Britain in the 1960s and 70s Szalay was born in 1974, so I wonder if names of his contemporaries at that age came to mind And Dundee as a Scottish surname Combined with Murray Why not exorcise the ghost of Paul Hogan which probably conjured that up and rename to something that actually sounds real And like the pointlessly distracting naming of a character Corbyn in The North Water, Tony Parson here seems to have nothing particular to do with his famous near namesake Discussions about whether this book reflects All That Man Is have tended to agree that it doesn t, even taking into account its demographic limitations Given my age, the lifestyles of men of my acquaintance are closest to less monied versions of Kristian and James, but there were quite a lot of sensibilities and interests that felt unrepresented, based on my own acquaintance including geeky nerdy science orientated men, plus anyone not mainstream culturally or politically and, most surprisingly given Szalay s skill at conveying the world of the office grunt, there were no non criminal blue collar workers or lower tier service occupations among the protagonists All the characters are travelling across Europe, so a lorry or train driver would have been a highly credible addition, or a builder or similar migrant worker Meanwhile, in two separate stories, the buzz of high level politics as a sort of addiction is mentioned, which reminded me of accounts of Machiavelli and how he suffered withdrawal symptoms from it when put into exile, and was never quite happy again without it despite some literary success.Another review has prompted me to consider the protagonists views of their own manliness certainly a few of them obviously or seem to consider, their own achievements as exemplary, or that they are basically right, and they are not portrayed sympathetically All That Man Is may be heard with a sarcastic tone here Others, however, arecircumspect but most are immersed in their own little worlds at the point when the narrative dips into their lives the likelihood of transcendence broadly increases with age simplistic perhaps but not totally unfounded.Several motifs recur through the book part of the argument for considering it a novel rather than a short story collection Listing those I noticed may convey something of its world Iron Man 3, the tarot card the Ace of Wands , kebabs, Ermenegildo Zegma, Stansted airport, Barbaresco wine iPads are perhaps too ubiqutous to count aside from occasional eccentricities, this is a commercial, mainstream world, predominantly of the sort of manlikely to be found in a branch of Burton or Hugo Boss than a bookshop And is the choice of The Sleepwalkers How Europe Went to War in 1914, as read by a chap who was once involved in EU expansion negotiations, meant to be a comment on these trivialities that people are emerged in or distract themselves with whilst larger andworrying trends are at work Boredom and the neutral feeling simply of existing are perfectly described perhaps even too much so one might expect to find oneself in a single room in a Travelodge on looking up from the text , but what, perhaps, felt missing most of all was humour, humour in the narrative, not just rubbish David Brent style jokes by characters, but actual humour which is surely necessary in a world of jerry built 2 star hotels, getting up at 6.30am, being stuck on crap road trips and yet another trip to the park with the kids and a sense of playfulness and taking such things lightly which, rightly or wrongly, is something I associate particuarly with men The narrative can sometimes be quite wise, with an obvious underlying influece from mindfulness popular Buddhism impermanence as the most enduring constant, for instance these moments of stillness and reflection generally increase as the protagonists get older I still prefer my own experience of feeling this very much what the final story keeps returning to whilst looking down at the traffic in a gyratory system on winter evenings from an office block where I used to work It s a scene that would fit very well in this book But I found All That Man Is to be simply the sort of book that chimes with experience, rather than one that produces epiphanies or perfect crystallising phrases Beginning in spring Easter holidays and ending in late November December is a trick which could work nicely, but to me seemed heavy handed The reflectiveness and characters search for direction is also nothing you wouldn t have heard before if you read a lot of this sort of book it s typical litfic material, just like all those meditations on the nature and influence of memory To stand out, one of these needs to be really special or simply something an individual reader connects with strongly.I may have enumeratednegatives than positives here, but I mostly enjoyed this book and found it a fast read Perhaps because of its lightness, and the way the shortness of the stories mean the author rarely gets his teeth into any one topic, it felt like a particularly pure example of literary fiction as a genre it hasthan enough of the right sort of tropes to be a genre novel, they re simply those characteristic of litfic Among my favourite features was that none of the stories end at a point that feels like the end a camera pans away incidentally as if it will be back soon, or perhaps runs out of charge it is refreshing to be freed a little from the standard beginning, middle and end structure All That Man Is may be too much of its time to be enduring, and I would not be at all surprised if, despite eschewing too many references to specific websites and devices, it seems dated orpositively, a curious vintage period piece in only five years time All the tarot card descriptions in the book correspond exactly with the Universal Waite images for the relevant cards on this site In case anybody was wondering, the first one Murray gets is the Four of Coins I read, and loved, London and the South East , an earlier book by David Szalay click here to read my review The day after I finished it, this, David Szalay s latest book All That Man Is , made the 2016 Booker Prize Shortlist, a development that made me even keener to read it My expectations were high Just like London and the South East , All That Man Is is a melancholic, downbeat novel I say novel but this is a tad contentious as the book contains nine short stories about nine differe I read, and loved, London and the South East , an earlier book by David Szalay click here to read my review The day after I finished it, this, David Szalay s latest book All That Man Is , made the 2016 Booker Prize Shortlist, a development that made me even keener to read it My expectations were high Just like London and the South East , All That Man Is is a melancholic, downbeat novel I say novel but this is a tad contentious as the book contains nine short stories about nine different men starting with a teenager and ending with a man in the final stages of his life There are thematic links between the stories and I think its reasonable to describe this as a novel however I quite understand why others might disagree The characters are a diverse bunch, different nationalities in various locations across Europe, but they are to varying degrees flawed, lonely individuals, frequently bordering on pathetic It s a damning indictment of masculinity, specifically an obliviousness to the preciousness and brevity of life, and the protagonists all tend towards a narrow focus on money, career or similar material matters, whilst finding it all but impossible to express emotions Despite the consistently downbeat nature of each of these snapshots of different life stages, David Szalay never ridicules these people, something I also noticed in London and the South East Szalay s characters are all treated with a rough compassion despite their all too obvious faults.If you can tolerate the bleakness at the heart of these stories, and the shortcomings of the characters, then you should find much to appreciate All That Man Is contains yetevidence that David Szalay is a supremely gifted, subtle writer who renders the complex simple through his intelligence, descriptive details and the clever thematic threads that link each of these snapshots, and which make All That Man Is a coherent and compelling read.In short, it s wonderful I now intend to prioritise reading the rest of his books In a riff on the Ages of Man four, five or seven, depending on which classical source you turn to , Szalay gives nine vignettes of men trying to figure out what life is all about His antiheroes range from age 17 to 73 Each section has several chapters and follows a similar pattern a man from one European country travels to another European country there are lots of scenes set at airports or otherwise in transit, and part of the overall atmosphere of dislocation is simply the effort of havin In a riff on the Ages of Man four, five or seven, depending on which classical source you turn to , Szalay gives nine vignettes of men trying to figure out what life is all about His antiheroes range from age 17 to 73 Each section has several chapters and follows a similar pattern a man from one European country travels to another European country there are lots of scenes set at airports or otherwise in transit, and part of the overall atmosphere of dislocation is simply the effort of having to adjust to foreignness.These trips are made for various reasons feckless French twentysomething B rnard has been fired by his uncle so goes ahead with a vacation to Cyprus tabloid journalist Kristian flies from Denmark to Spain to confirm rumors of a government minister s involvement in a scandal former oligarch Aleksandr takes his yacht for a farewell Adriatic cruise as he reflects on where his millions went Predictably, sex is a major theme reluctant hook ups, fantasy lovers, affairs regretted, wild oats never sown At times especially during 2 , I was ready to follow up the title phrase in my best Cockney accent with All That Man Is is a bloody wanker As individual stories, there s nothing particularly wrong with these Inevitably, though, some areinteresting than others, and they don t quite succeed in feeding into an overarching message, unless to confirm a mood of hedonism and angst Life is short and pointless enjoy its moments while you can, eh My favorite protagonists were Interrailing teenager Simon 1 and Kristian 5 several of the ones in the middle I ve now forgotten.I did like how the final story offered a slightly different sexual dynamic and an unforeseen connection back with the first story But overall, I didn t find this to be the philosophical and elegiac experience I might have expected The prose is great, though I d certainly read astraightforward novel by Szalay.Favorite lines There s this feeling he sometimes has that he s a long way from home That nobody s there for him if it all goes wrong How little we understand about life as it is actually happening The moments fly past, like trackside pylons seen from a train window I ve just found my best book of the year in a year filled with best books Szalay pronounced SOL loy writes nine stories about men, different men, each approximately seven years older than the man preceding him The men are Europeans, visiting or living in a country not their own The youngest man is seventeen, the oldest is seventy three I laughed my way through this tragicomic look at what it means to be a man, for Szalay put inthan enough to qualify this as the best sort of literatur I ve just found my best book of the year in a year filled with best books Szalay pronounced SOL loy writes nine stories about men, different men, each approximately seven years older than the man preceding him The men are Europeans, visiting or living in a country not their own The youngest man is seventeen, the oldest is seventy three I laughed my way through this tragicomic look at what it means to be a man, for Szalay put inthan enough to qualify this as the best sort of literature.Some critics have raised the point that a collection of stories about white heterosexual males isn t rounded enough without a diverse population While I crave the author s take on the immigrant experience or that of a black male in London, the truth is I want his opinion on everythingwith jokes, please He has chosen to share this delicious, mordant look at what adherence to the masculine role has done to several generations of white males adrift in their culture, and that has produced an entirely sufficient and complete work of art I look forward to what he comes up with next.Women are the sun and stars about which the stories revolve Their roles appear to be supporting ones, waitresses, prostitutes, mothers, wives, vacationing lushes, but any woman would recognize that there is ample going on behind their eyes Their power is undeniable, if only they would seize it A few of them do Szalay fleshes out several of his female characters, but the most gorgeous one is never physically described, except by the double exclamation, Wow WowThat was a wise cop out, sparing the author attacks for focusing on a woman s physical charms, or for mistakenly forgetting to emphasize a reader s most fantasized about body part The whole collection of stories together are unforgettable in their descriptions of the haplessness of European white males, but the amusement we experience is tempered by the knowledge that men like these are responsible for fighting wars, closing borders, electing nitwits, denying climate change, and any number of other scourges plaguing our societies Their lack of self examination is our annoyance.Murray Dundee on the Croatia Riveira had me screaming with laughter and weeping tears of hilarity At the beginning of 7, Dundee returns to his mother s memorial service in Scotland, sleeping overnight in his sister s house, in his nephew s bed He doesn t sleep well, though he claims he does Too much thinking going on Murray has hit a few speed bumps settling in Croatia in his attempts to 1 make friends, 2 start a business, 3 bed a woman A local man Murray can t call a friend, short, muscular, untalkative the sort of man that Murray instinctively defers to, suggests Murray might be cursed, and he does seem that Murray goes to see a woman about it.She s in a dressing gown, A solid, surly woman like someone who sells you a train ticket to Zagreb, frowning at you through the perforated glass as you try to explain what it is you want, while the queue lengthens Short hair Little buds of gold in her earlobes, Breath that smells of cigarette smoke, bacteria.She says something to Murray in a sharp, imperative voice She says you should relax, is the translation He has the weird fear that she s going to ask him to strip.The stories begin strong and just get deeper and richer as we progress though the novel The glitz and glamour and misplaced attention in story 8 brought to mind the outsized ambition of Donald Trump can I ever not see this man in the novels I read but I found myself slowing my reading as the stories went on There is something about the accretion of sorrow and of despair, no matter how funny, that makes us feel these men There is always the edge of the precipice in sight Each new story presents the prospect of fulfillment would you be happy if you took a sun vacation in the Mediterranean Had a luxe apartment in the Alps Took your retirement on the Croatian Riviera Owned a multi storied yacht Unexamined lives and denial bring them there alone and their fate, when they realize it is too late to change anything, describes our pain.In a Paris Review interview Szalay tells us that he originally thought of calling these linked stories Europa It does seem like a good title, but perhaps the current title with the word man in it isappropriate Certainly one gets the sense of Europe in this novel, in much of its diversity, but the subject is both broader and narrower than that All I can say is if you don t read this one you are missing something very special indeed I won t expect Szalay will top this one immediately isn t that the problem with writing something so very good to begin with , but whatever he comes up with will be interesting All my chips on the man with the x ray vision This novel has just won the 2016 Gordon Burns Prize, and has been shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize Just finished and thought but didn t say aloud what a great fucking book Now it s first thing the next morning and I ll try to collect my thoughts in text my mother started recommending this in the fall but I was in the middle of The Sleepwalkers and wasn t reading so many pages a day, meaning it would be months until I read something else, plus the title seemed unrememberable and maybe excessively manly it s ultimately sort of ironic time reduces all that man is to nothing She kept sayi Just finished and thought but didn t say aloud what a great fucking book Now it s first thing the next morning and I ll try to collect my thoughts in text my mother started recommending this in the fall but I was in the middle of The Sleepwalkers and wasn t reading so many pages a day, meaning it would be months until I read something else, plus the title seemed unrememberable and maybe excessively manly it s ultimately sort of ironic time reduces all that man is to nothing She kept saying I really needed to read it, and so I asked for it for Xmas since I pretty much always heed such insistence she s previously insistently recommended DFW s A Supposedly Fun Thing I ll Never Do Again, Helen Dewitt s The Last Samurai, Muriel Barbery s The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and most recently KOK s My Struggle Book One So I received it for Xmas and soon after was diagnosed with walking pneumonia, which kept me from work for the last days of 2016 and placed me in bed, under the covers, propped up with pillows, shades wide open to let in dark gray daylight, reading this in two day long extended sessions, something I can never do these days So this is a novel composed of nine, very subtly linked stories sequenced by each male protagonist s age, from 17 to 73 Like the last book I read Seiobo There Below , this is a novel composed of thematically and stylistically linked stories Each story could easily stand on its own but it felt like a novel in that it s held together by a consistent perspective close third , similar tone steady yet not totally conventional, restrained yet not spare, descriptive but not lyrical , and recurring bits like the appearance of lagers, football clubs on the telly, kebobs, love triangles or at least situations with two men and one woman , tarot cards the phallic ace of wands and the tower , sentence fragments and occasional repetitions of phrases, the grandson of the final protagonist a knighted former British ambassador in Italy is the quiet literary kid from the first story traveling in Prague reading Henry James s The Ambassadors which made me wonder if I d missed other associations among the stories Each story for the most part took about six pages to coalesce, for the magic eye poster thing to kick in where I was deeply imagining the characters always white male hetero Europeans and settings always European, in Prague, the Croatian coast, Cyprus, Italy, London, Germany, Slovenia The book description says that these men are striving to figure out what life is about, something like that, butso they re not particularly ambitious, and life is imposing itself on them, life is revealing itself to them, they re not particularly active characters other than the journalist , it s life itself that s active in this, and the major catharsis in each story is recognition, for the most part, that this is their life, this is what life is, for example, the kid in his early twenties swimming in the sea in the morning with warm sun on his skin after insatiable romping with a dramatically obese daughter and the next night with her not quite as large mother Only one of these stories is sort of deliciously humorous, although it s a dark, almost silent laugh the one about Murray, the guy in his mid fifties exiled to a pathetic life with a Dutchman he doesn t like, lusting after an unattractive bartender he doesn t pull, a climate change denier totally isolated from humanity who can only really talk about the S class Mercedes he used to have At times toward the beginning I wondered if the author was condescending a little to his characters, mostly lower class gents, as inarticulate as they are introspective But I ve rated this five stars because after a few pages each story came alive, each character seemed alive, the scenes seemed effortlessly real, the scenarios seemed to carry a real dramatic charge, and the clever structure of a sequence of stories about men from various classes between the ages of 17 to 73 gave way, as did the craft conventions loved how each story unfolded, how essential information about what the characters were doing for example was withheld for a few pages to pull you along or how action was interrupted by a white space break and then summarized later, pulling you along to see what happened and the always clear, controlled, evocative, precise, fluid language, and ultimately it felt true to life, or just true, conveying the truth about life that the only eternal thing in life is the passing of time The passing of time That is what is eternal, that is what has no end And it shows itself only in the affect it has on everything else, so that everything else embodies, in its own impermanence, the one thing that never ends If you come to this expecting a statement on the modern European male, you won t come away with something neat and reductive It demonstrates the complexity of humanity, instead of reducing it to demographics identity politics A globalized Europe is in the background, replete with American fast food KFC, Starbucks, etc , but the essence of this one is the texture of time, that s the real star of the show, the real focus It s a totally successful experiment, I d say, and although a few minor unconventional dalliances with creative spacing, including a page that s blank except for only the words The music when the two 17 years olds in Prague attend a Mozart concert, irritated me a little, in the end, the next morning, all the stories are so vivid, so clear, so poignant for the most part, I ve decided to rate it five stars, although it s probablylike 4.5 stars rounded up for my immersive, sick in bed reading experience all ratings really reflect one s reading experience, anyway, not the book itself Something else not necessarily about the book that occurred to me and seemed somewhat disturbing was that this was published in the US by Graywolf Press, although it was originally published in the UK by an imprint of Vintage Penguin Random House, which makes it seem like all those Penguin Random House imprints in the US, Knopf particularly, passed on this It s possible that there was some other reason that Graywolf, a totally venerable independent, published it instead of one of the Penguin Random House imprints, but halfway through, as I becameentirely on its side, the thought occurred now and again, something like how the hell did all those major US presses pass on this I was also worried when I looked at the author photo and it seemed like his neck had been photoshopped clear I wasn t sure what I thought about that, just that no man in his early forties has such a pristine neck Anyway, a great reading experience for me, and an author regardless of what his neck really looks like or how you pronounce his name sol LOY, apparently who I ll definitely keep reading Will soon read Virginia Woolf s The Waves, which tracks characters from childhood to old age, to see if I can maybe eek out some similarities