5.0 out of 5 stars You should read this book
I'm suprised at the negative reviews. The book is ambitious, but not overly so. The writing is simple and beautiful. The story is suprising and magical, but not implausible. The character developement is wonderful and the characters imaginative. Read it when you want something refreshing to perk up your brain.
Published on April 15 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars nice prose, sloppy tale
I was interested in this book because of the uncommon setting of St. Louis--a city I love, but one that is definitely falling apart. That decay is beautifully described by Franzen. There's no doubt that the prose in 'The Twenty-Seventh City' nearly always sparkles and only occasionally falls flat, usually when he gets too caught up in his philosophical meanderings inside...
Published on July 9 2004 by L. K Smith
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3.0 out of 5 stars nice prose, sloppy tale,
This review is from: The Twenty-Seventh City (Paperback)I was interested in this book because of the uncommon setting of St. Louis--a city I love, but one that is definitely falling apart. That decay is beautifully described by Franzen. There's no doubt that the prose in 'The Twenty-Seventh City' nearly always sparkles and only occasionally falls flat, usually when he gets too caught up in his philosophical meanderings inside the head of Martin Probst (who is quietly and slowly lovable). There are so many artful descriptions and astute retellings of every-day occurrences to propel readers. Unfortunately, the interesting premise never expands much beyond its setup in the first 50 pages. S. Jammu and her comrades are interesting, but haughty, and their reasons for taking on their twisted plot are never clarified beyond vague sketches of their activist and corrupted pasts. EVERYone in high society, apparently, enters into either physical or intellectual affairs, which often defy their characterisations, and there are so many characters that are highlighted in their dull everyday routines just to service their importance in the book's ending that it drags down the beginning in middle. And when the climax of a 500-page novel hinges on the outcome of a referendum vote... well, I think that's all that needs to be said about that.
Still, Franzen's observations on our every day lives and interactions are shocking in their familiarity, and he undeniably has a good grip on many facets of how our society and culture functions. Twenty years after the fact his comments are still relevant. 'The Twenty-Seventh City' is worth reading, but only if read quickly; labouring over it and its blunted intricacies is not worth the time.
3.0 out of 5 stars St. Louis never saw so much drama,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Twenty-Seventh City (Paperback)Yeah this book was OK, definitely could see Franzen's "Corrections"-style of writing warming up in this overdone tale of civic corruption and urban discontent. Haling from St. Louis originally, however, I was constantly reminded at the outrageously fictitious nature of this story--STL doesn't see this kind of drama. Too many characters sacrfice any decent character development, other than maybe the protaganist, Martin Probst. Good summer reading if you're not expecting too much. You could do a hell of a lot worse than "Twenty-Seventh City."
4.0 out of 5 stars Well done first novel,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Twenty-Seventh City (Paperback)I thoroughly enjoyed Jonathan Franzen's first novel about his home town of St. Louis. The fabulously corrupt S. Jammu is a well drawn character. One only wishes there were more of her in the novel and fewer dreary boardroom scenes. I confess that the technical talk about real estate, stock values, etc, was a bit over my head. Franzen is a master of character development. I especially enjoyed the scenes told from the perspective of the philandering Rolf Ripley. Also excellent: the paranoid General Norris, particularly in his activities with Pokorny, his hired P.I. This book does seem to drag a bit in the middle, but the last fifty pages were thrilling. As a native of Buffalo, NY, another failing urban area, I was interested in reading about another second rate city and it's problems.
5.0 out of 5 stars You should read this book,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Twenty-Seventh City (Paperback)I'm suprised at the negative reviews. The book is ambitious, but not overly so. The writing is simple and beautiful. The story is suprising and magical, but not implausible. The character developement is wonderful and the characters imaginative. Read it when you want something refreshing to perk up your brain.
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, if you know the City and have a global perspectiv,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Twenty-seventh City (Paperback)Hey, this was a decent read. It gave an interesting look at what IS a high stakes game--the redevelopment and reinvigoration of a dying city. Franzen's strange choice of a female protagonist, and his knowledge of the St Louis metro-region, make it an enjoyable read.
The biggest disappointment is Franzen's recurring gratuitous sexual blurbs.
2.0 out of 5 stars Do Not Read This Book,
This review is from: The Twenty-Seventh City (Paperback)... unless you really want to. And you better have good reasons in that case. I can't imagine what they could be though. If you want to ponder, circa 1988, the problems facing U.S. cities, or terrorism, or conspiracy, you'll not find anything much here. This is Franzen's first book, written 13 years before the materpice The Corrections (which is why you're considering this one, right?), and the kid had not yet assembled his talents nor adequately honed his intelligence. Rather than itemize its marginal successes against it's tedious failures, I'm gonna streamline for you: the only reason to give this a workout is to see how much the author, as a storyteller, truthteller, character-meister, has developed since. And that endevour is one of research. Read The Corrections again instead. Seriously.
5.0 out of 5 stars Is it St Louis - or is it.... Berlin?,
This review is from: The Twenty-Seventh City (Paperback)Why Berlin?
Jonathan Franzen visited the "Literaturfestival" in Berlin in the fall 2003. He read out of his new to german language translated book 27th city.
When he was asked out of the audience, whether he -in a few words- could explain, why to read the "Corrections" Franzen answered: "Because it was well reviewed.." - Laughter :-)
I have just read the german edition of 27th city.
What I loved within this book:
And a whole lot of action, more than we faced at the "corrections". And a lot of cynical humour :-)
Berlin and the county of Brandenburg are planning their merger. But the protagonists here are not half the way engaged as the pressure groups in St. Luis. But they could use the arguments stressed in this book. Neither do we have a female, aggressive, imported chief of police nor the investors that pump up the market in order to re-arrange the city's settings. But what we do have is: some old boys that feel sad and tired when some some social engineered guys come and kidnap their vision of happyness.
Read it, love it, wait for more!
2.0 out of 5 stars an over-ambitious mess...,
This review is from: The Twenty-Seventh City (Paperback)'The Twenty-Seventh City' is my first experience of Jonathan Franzen. Suffice to say it did not make me a fan. While I can understand where some amazon.com reviewers found it to be a panoramic story of greed and corruption, I share the views of most reviewers who feel this effort was WAY over-blown, chaotic, and a depressing reading experience. I was glad I finished it, and would have been happier not to have started it!
Okay, the story is about a corrupt police official in St Louis. She comes from Bombay and brings along a host of criminals, junkies, and other misfits. Naturally she is corrupt and terribly ambitious. Challenging her are an assortment of St Louisans who are, well, only modestly corrupt but rather inept... this book has probably a dozen major characters with at least twice as many minor characters. It's all very tiresome to keep track who is who, especially since many of the characters seem to have little impact on the story.
This book was not published in the UK for over a dozen years, not until Franzen became popular because of his 'The Corrections' ... I can understand completely why UK publishers didn't bother with 'The Twenty-Seventh City' for so long, and I don't expect it will be reprinted here any time soon.
Bottom line: some decent prose but overall a dreadful reading experience.
2.0 out of 5 stars Messy,
This review is from: The Twenty-Seventh City (Paperback)There are snippets here of the writer Franzen was to become with The Corrections, but ultimately, this is a mess. Ambitious, sweeping, blah blah blah. Also, too packed with minor characters that have no bearing on the plot -- and have too little effect on the main characters to be worth the effort. I'm willing to do a little work when I read a book, especially something that aspires in the way this one does, but rein it in a bit, man. Reminiscent in reach of Zadie Smith's White Teeth -- another rambler that at least had some likable characters.
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read,
This review is from: The Twenty-Seventh City (Paperback)I'm not good at writing reviews, but I'm writing this because there are no reviews of this book and people need to know how compelling it is. I read The Corrections first, and loved it, so I sought out Franzen's other two novels, The Twenty-Seventh City and Strong Motion. Once I started reading The Twenty-Seventh City, I couldn't stop.
The story is set in St. Louis in the mid-'80s. When the position of Chief of Police becomes vacant, somehow the Police Commissioner of Bombay, India, a woman named S. Jammu, gets the job. Once she is installed, she and her henchman set about achieving their goals (which never really become clear, so if you're not comfortable with unanswered questions, you should probably avoid this book) by any means necessary, including electronic snooping, murder, and terrorist attacks. None of Jammu's many supporters is aware of the connection between her and all the violent events that happen after she is installed as Chief of Police. The story centers on Jammu's efforts to persuade Martin Probst, a prominent St. Louisan and the last holdout to her agenda, to approve her plan to merge the city of St. Louis with the West County. Her campaign is a lot more complicated, suspenseful and dramatic than you might expect.
Jonathan Franzen's writing is wonderful in this book, though not at the level of art that he reaches in The Corrections. Franzen's writing combined with a suspenseful and mysterious story results in a book that you simply can't stop reading. I was sorry when it ended.
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The Twenty-Seventh City by Jonathan Franzen (Paperback - Sep 8 2001)
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