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The Story of B Paperback – Nov 3 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (Nov. 3 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553379011
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553379013
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 2.3 x 20.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #9,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Quinn returns to fiction after a five-year hiatus with a sequel of sorts to Ishmael, winner of the Turner Tomorrow Award in 1991. Like its controversial predecessor, this book is not really a novel, but an extended Socratic dialogue that promulgates the same animist solutions to global problems that the author recorded last year in his spiritual autobiography, Providence: The Story of a Fifty-Year Vision Quest. The narrator, Jared Osborne, is a priest of the Laurentians, a fictional Roman Catholic order under an ancient, covert mandate to stand watch against the coming of the Antichrist. Although skeptical, Jared is enjoined by his superior to investigate Charles Atterley, an expatriate American preacher known to his followers as "B." Allowing Jared into his inner circle in Munich, B soon dispels both the concern that he is the Antichrist and the shivery intimations of apocalypse that make the opening chapters darkly intriguing. Through long, often numbingly repetitive parables and speeches, B instructs Jared in the solutions to overpopulation, ecological despoliation, cultural intolerance and other ills that have dogged civilization since the time of "the Great Forgetting" 10,000 years ago. B's smug pontificating and his disciples' unquestioning devotion reduces them to interchangeable mouthpieces for Quinn's philosophies. As a result, Jared's spiritual conversion away from Roman Catholicism and toward Quinn-ism, intended to be the book's dramatic high point, falls painfully flat.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Quinn, author of the best-selling cult classic Ishmael (LJ 12/91), returns with another quasispiritual tale about a priest who awaits the arrival of the Antichrist.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Monika on June 12 2004
Format: Paperback
Thus far I have read three of Quinn's books - first "Ishmael," which I've read twice, then "My Ishmael," and now "The Story of B," which I can definitely say is my favorite of the three. However, I would advise anyone new to Quinn to start with "Ishmael," as it lays the foundation for his ideas. "The Story of B" takes the ideas from "Ishmael" further and looks at them in more depth. "My Ishmael," is one that you can either read or not. While it isn't a bad book, it's pretty much just a new way of packaging everything Quinn had already said in "Ishmael."
Those who are already familiar with Quinn will know that his basic message is that our culture (NOT to be confused with the entire human race) is slowly and blindly destroying itself. He describes our culture as a "monster that is literally devouring the world - and will end by devouring itself if it isn't stopped" (pg. 88). The story he uses to frame his arguments in this book is as follows: Father Jared Osborne is a Catholic priest sent to Europe by his superiors in order to investigate a man known to his followers as B. This mysterious B has been traveling throughout Germany, spreading ideas that have the Church concerned he may be the Antichrist. Osborne is instructed to break into B's group of followers and determine whether he is or isn't as dangerous as he seems.
I found it interesting that this book was written from the perspective of a Catholic priest, secure in his faith (initially, at least), whereas "Ishmael" was narrated by a disillusioned everyday citizen who already felt he had been "lied to" by "Mother Culture.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Julia on Jan. 21 2006
Format: Paperback
The Story of B is the second book of the Ishmael series, but I read it as the last. I read it during a hard time for myself and did find it had breathed some optimisim in me for the future. Growing up in a world that was predicting the chaos we are now seeing as a result of our selfishness and carelessness towards the planet and other inhabitants living here, I began to feel hopeless about a future. Sometimes I still do, but this book has helped me.
Although I do appreaiate Mr. Quinn's philosophies I would caution readers not to read it like a Bible. Read it with an open mind and search for opposing and supportive information. Mr. Quinn is a writer not just expressing his ideas, but also stories. I would ask the same of critics against his ideas. In the book he is biased with egalitarian cultures, and it's not hard to understand why, but he does make some very good points that we forget or miss or don't want to see.
I agree that it would have been more interesting if the main character, Jared Osbourne, challenged B's ideas more aggressivly, but it still doesn't mean that this book holds nothing worth reading. It's a book that should be read with an open mind.
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By Air on March 14 2012
Format: Paperback
The Story of B was recommended to me by a good friend - I entered with a willingness and openness, and yet by the end I found myself skimming over repetitive concepts that do not seem particularly shattering.

I think that Quinn makes some good points, albeit in a very pedantic and garbled fashion. In terms of the writing, the dialogue is almost pathetically unrealistic, with the main character constantly being confused or astounded by some new tidbit of information. These revelations occur over and over and the power of these epiphanies slowly waned for me. It is clearly more of a manifesto than a work of fiction, and it is poorly disguised.

Some of the concepts are quite interesting. However, I think Quinn simplifies his ideas to black and white comparisons, and worst of all, does not address clear counter arguments. An example of black and white thinking is Quinn discussing our society as "not humanity," but instead one conquering culture of totalitarian agriculture. He supposes that all worldly cultures fall under this description. He then idealizes tribal cultures with one poorly conceived anecdote, thus proving their superiority.

Simplifications abounding, Quinn does not even address the most important question of "quality of life" or even life expectancy which has increased since his Great Forgetting. (I can imagine Quinn's responses relating to a) the 'natural' human life expectancy b) the unimportance of increased life expectancy with the "listlessness" and pointlessness which engulf our lives). Technology is but the weapon of totalitarian agriculture for Quinn, and he neglects to discuss benefits.
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Format: Paperback
The Story of B is what could be called the middle book of Daniel Quinn's trilogy about the thoughts and influences of the talking gorilla known as Ishmael.
Unlike Ishmael or My Ishmael ("A Sequel" to Ishmael, though the third in the series), the gorilla is not present and the story focuses on one of Ishmael's proteges. A man commonly called "B". Romping through Europe, tracked and confronted by the narrator (who's diary we are purportedly reading) who is investigating him to see if B is potentially the Antichrist (a theory far less fantastical than one would think), it is a very compelling read.
Certain portions of the novel appear as endnotes, transcriptions the narrator has made of B's speeches and should be read not at the end of the book, but as the story progresses. It is these ideas, the speeches of B, which Quinn uses as the foundation for the message he is trying to convey in both this book and his two Ishmael books. The very simplified gist of it is that our -- humanity's -- view of the world and history is dangerously askew. We, all of us, have forgotten a crucial step in our timeline when humans went from content, tribal, happy people to over-worked, "civilized", and confused people. From gathering and hunting for a few hours a day and living with tribes, to farming or working twelve hours a day and living in massive cities. From there, B and his followers take the narrator and the reader on an adventure to explore this rift in our collective history and to see how it affects everything we are. Ultimately the problem remains that this lifestyle, the one adopted with the advent of "The Great Forgetting", will destroy us all. Everything in the world is at risk of the pains of our progress.
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