Politics: A Novel Hardcover – Sep 18 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
In this nervy, self-conscious debut novel, British writer Thirlwell airs the unspoken anxieties and confusions of two lovers, crafting a talky deconstruction of a relationship. Moshe is a character actor, "the sketchy one, the sardonic one, the oddball cool"; Nana is an architecture student, "tall, thin, pale, blonde, breasty." It is the off-stage narrator, however, who is the book's most notable presence, with his countless digressions, "simple" theories, lengthy explanations and bossy directives. Despite his repeated assertions that the book is not about sex ("sex isn't everything"; "sometimes I think that this book is an attack on sex"), Moshe and Nana are constantly experimenting ("oral sex, use of alternative personae, lesbianism, undinism"), though their experiments usually end in failure. This is true of their biggest experiment, a three-way affair involving Anjali, an Anglo-Indian actor friend of Moshe's. Reading Thirlwell's novel is similar to watching a film with the director in the room, guiding the viewer through every scene. While many of the resulting narrative flourishes are clever or endearing, their humor and intellectual cachet wear thin as the ratio of window dressing to substance tips heavily in favor of the former. Still, Thirlwell's brave attempt to debunk the primacy of sex (while elaborately describing his characters' hapless pursuit of it) is surprisingly convincing.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Toward the end of this lushly ambiguous story of an unconventional love triangle, the first-person but anonymous narrator observes, "I do love Milan Kundera. I love him very much." That much is obvious, but the other love affairs in the book are considerably more murky. Nana loves Moshe, and Moshe loves Nana. Anjali also loves Nana, and so Moshe and Nana welcome her into their relationship. The plot concerns what will become of this menage a trois and why Moshe and Nana share one another with Anjali when neither of them is in love with her. To facilitate the latter story, the narrator frequently speaks directly to the reader discussing everything from architecture to predestination. It's an entertaining, if eventually tiring, concept, but Thirlwell uses it gamely to tackle big themes, such as the conflict between morality and politeness. He doesn't quite pull off these frequent Kunderaesque tangents, but the quirky narrative style does make for a wonderfully complete picture of three lives. A funny and surprisingly wise first novel. John Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Stories of Guillaume Apollinaire, Osip Mandelshtam, Milan Kundera does not add any literary value to Adam Thirlwell book.
What propelled Adam Thirlwell to expose his talentless ambition to the reading world? As an Oxford student he should know better.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Well here it is now, in a high-profile type of dust jacket that is cut off halfway down the jacket, to make it stand out from the other novels on the table at Barnes and Noble, and I bet it does very well. When you read POLITICS it makes you realize just how accomplished a writer Milan Kundera is, for in Kundera's hands this same storyline turned into THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING whereas when Thirlwall does it, it just sags down with the insecurities of the privileged girl at the center of the tale, the randy boy who wants to spice up their sex life with a menage a trois, and the kind of hapless actress, Anjali, who becomes the "June" in their own version of HENRY AND JUNE. Thirlwell is great when he's describing food, fashion and couture, and when he's telling stories about writers from the past he admires. And he does know quite a bit about the hoydenish behavior of young women desperately trying to please men unworthy of them. But all in all, even though the book is hot pink, and one's hands are drawn to touch it, hold it, caress it, make love to it, do yourself a favor and put it back on the shelf, uncut. Even a copy of GRANTA will prove more rewarding.
I frequent British authors so I'm no stranger to the writing, humor, etc., but I could not get into the book or the characters and found Thirlwell's writing to be choppy at best.
Definitely glad I got it used from Amazon. It's into the "to be donated to the library" pile with no guilt!
Moshe, Nana, and Anjali's story is not unlike a story that happens to everyone at one time or another. Many people can identify what it is like to be in love (in at least one of the many connotations of the word) with two people at once. But Thirlwell's development of the consequences is somewhat lacking at tidiness. He serves quite appropriately at an uber-omniscient narrator, but his story's resolution is a little...predictable. As much as I enjoyed identifying with Moshe's crisis in the book, Nana's resolution to the crisis is somewhat unfulfilling. Perhaps, however, therein lies the point of the book. The most real stories sometimes have the least coherent endings. Perhaps a little more character development and plot would make the stories end more satisfying.