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Effect Of Living Backwards Hardcover – Jun 3 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: GP Putnam And Sons (June 3 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399150498
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399150494
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 16.3 x 2.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 594 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,917,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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First Sentence
BUT LET ME DESCRIBE what Edith was wearing on that day we boarded Flight 919 from Casablanca to Melilla, where, fifty or so hours later, she was supposed to be married: a pale-blue cotton blouse with white threading and sanded wood buttons, an oatmeal wool skirt, a camel's-hair coat folded over her arm, cabled stockings, and a pair of sturdy leather schoolgirl shoes, because my sister believed in the erotic possibilities of cloddish, thick-knit, nubbled apparel. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

2.6 out of 5 stars
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By A Customer on June 25 2004
Format: Hardcover
An ambitious book that ultimately bites off more then it can chew. Could the author be too much of a brainiac? There are lovely moments of texture and real insight, and then long insufferable passages where the author's strain is evident. A series of vignettes meant to expose the shameful secrets of the main characters fail because the secrets aren't, well, that shameful. The rivalry between the two sisters ends up repeating the same note over and over, squabbling leading to more squabbling. Nonetheless, the cumulative effect of the novel somehow does manage to land. The author does seem to have caught a side ways glace of much of what ails us, and the feeling you are left with at the end (an uneasy and ephemeral melancholy) may or may not be worth the read - it depends on your patience.
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Format: Hardcover
This novel is very different. The story premise is unusual, timely and interesting. It is a black comedy describing a pair of sisters involved in an airline hijacking experience. You never know if the hijacking is real, staged or something in between.
I really wanted to love this book. There is so much promise in this writer. Her prose is amazing; she seems to understand and utilize words that sound almost musical in her sentences. I found myself looking to the dictionary on multiple occasions, fascinated with the vocabulary and syntax. Unfortunately, the plot and story development, do not demonstrate the same level of maturity.
Author Heidi Julavits' shows she has extraordinary potential, having a remarkable ability to piece together interesting phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. If the plot of this novel was more substantial, or the two sister's characters were better developed, this would be a very good work. Instead, we are left with an interesting book, that leaves you puzzled about what you read when you reach the finish.
I generously rate this book at 2.75 out of 5.00 stars, rounded up to 3.00, for beautiful use of language, creativity in subject matter and a nice job in approaching the story. However, it rambles on in its linguistic beauty instead of really delivering a strong plot or climax. If this writer learns to finish as well as she starts, I believe we will see many other interesting works to come.
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By lady detective on April 4 2004
Format: Hardcover
what a messy, mess, mess this book is!
there's a/are terrorist(s) on board a plane- but the reader is let in on the beginning that the terrorism isn't real- in fact there's some strange school where people are trained to act out fake terrorist attacks-- for what purpose? who knows.
oh, the narrator hints at this & that- the author lets us into the other passenger's minds briefly in these small interjected chapters- why? once again, who knows?
you really never know what the heck is going on- people die- but do they really? relationships take on a joking manner that only the author seems privvy to. oh my gosh! the only reason i finished the darn thing was due to a (wrong) belief that all of the confused nonsense would work itself out in the end.
do yourself a favor & don't bother with this book.
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Format: Hardcover
This novel is very different. The story premise is unusual, timely and interesting. It is a black comedy describing a pair of sisters involved in an airline hijacking experience. You never know if the hijacking is real, staged or something in between. The critical elements of the book concern the relationship between the sisters, rather than the interplay around the hijacking. (...)
Author Heidi Julavits shows she has extraordinary potential, having a remarkable ability to piece together interesting phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. If the plot of this novel was more substantial, or if the two sister's characters were better developed, this would be a very good work. Instead, we are left with an interesting book, that leaves you puzzled about what you read when you reach the finish.
I generously rate this book at 2.85 out of 5.00 stars, rounded up to 3.00, for beautiful use of language, creativity in subject matter and a nice job in approaching the story. However, it rambles on in its linguistic beauty instead of really delivering a strong plot or climax. If this writer learns to finish as well as she starts, I believe we will see many other interesting works to come.
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Format: Hardcover
I can definitely understand the 1 or 2 star ratings being given this book by other amazon.com reviewers; I have very mixed feelings about it myself. There were parts I enjoyed: the interplay between the two sisters, the interesting post-Sept.11 theorizing, the fact that the confusing plot did draw me in and didn't want to let go. What I didn't enjoy was that the reader can never distinguish what is real and what is not, who is "good" and who is "bad," whether the whole hijacking was set up as a study on how passengers react to certain aspects of terrorism or whether the whole BOOK was set up to see how readers react to certain aspects of bizarre and overzealous writing.
I liked the terrorist attacks on the US being referred to as "The Big Terrible" (which Julavits credits to Thomas Freidman in her acknowledgements) rather than the ubiqutous "9-11," and I also liked the creative hijacking story of a rugby team overpowering their captors and crashing the plane when it wasn't necessary (resulting in stickers posted in all airplanes saying WHEN TO OVERPOWER YOUR HIJACKERS). However, much of the writing about the terrorism school seemed contrived, as though Julavits was trying a little too hard, and the battle between the two factions there didn't make a lot of sense to me.
_The Effect of Living Backwards_ certainly held my interest, and in all I'd say that it was a good read. At times the writing was just a little hard to wade through... and I'm still trying to decide if the effort was worth it.
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