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The Grand Complication: A Novel Hardcover – 2001

3.2 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Theia (2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786866039
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786866038
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 3.2 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 703 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,278,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Good condition. Ships from Toronto, ON, Canada.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Reference librarian Alex Short finds work very boring as assisting customers is done more on an assembly line with pneumatic tubes than on a one-to-one basis. He enjoys lettering and on rare occasions, a customer's call slip is written in a historical style of graphics and he collects these rarities with a passion. The young man prefers to "girdle" by writing observations in his little notebook that he carries with him all the time more than he wants to have sex with his beautiful French wife.
Sixtyish Henry James Jesson III submits a library call slip requesting Secret Compartments, an eighteenth century furniture book. The beautiful rarely seen-today writing style catches Alex's eye and he breaks the rules by delivering the book to the requester. Henry offers Alex a job to complete a collection that contains a secret compartment with a hanging nail inside but the attached item is missing. Henry begins to follow the trail of THE GRAND COMPLICATION, a lost eighteenth century watch, and a search that could prove to cost him his soul.
THE GRAND COMPLICATION is a different type of mystery one that seems so simple yet is so rich and complex. The library, Nic's pop-ups, eighteenth century cabinets to conserve precious items, and Henry's Manhattan townhouse are filled with layers of detail weaved into the delightful story line. The investigation is intelligent and adds to the strange relationship between Henry and Alex. Readers who delight in well-written, off beat literature will want to obtain Allen Kurzweil's first novel in a decade because few writers enter the soul of his characters quite like this author does.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
The Grand Complication is a strong follow-up to A Case of Curiosities and an engrossing and entertaining read. The story begins when the note-taking obssessed librarian, Alexander Short, is approached by the wealthy and mysterious collector Henry James Jesson III to help him find, as it eventually turns out, a pocket watch made for Marie Antoinette. The book is well written, full of historical and literary references. Like the watch it describes, the story is packed with clever features and diverting details. I would recommend this book to anyone, particularly any lover of books and libraries. My only complaint about the book is in the handling of some of the secondary characters, particularly Emmanuel Ornstein, an orthodox jewish jewelery broker. Although the character is meant to be somewhat comical, I felt that the use of dialect in rendering his yiddish accent was a little heavy handed. Moreover, although he turns out to be more ethical than is initially suspected, his character plays too easily into malicious old stereotypes of Jews as thieves or fencers of stolen goods. A hindu security guard, Mr. Singh, is treated similarly. This point aside, I greatly enjoyed The Grand Complication and I look forward to Mr Kurzweil's next book.
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Format: Hardcover
I don't believe a reader can fully appreciate what this writer is offering with, "The Grand Complication", unless, "A Case Of Curiosities", has been read first. I enjoyed the book as the writer is talented, and pays a great deal of attention to detail, both to his writing and the manner in which he physically presents his novel. This novel does not open with the blank pages most books do that lead a reader to wonder why they are there. He not only uses the space to enhance the aesthetics of his book, he makes it a part of his novel as well. The same can be said of the cover. More and more book covers seem to be the final resting place of bad clip art or just bad taste. Here again the Author uses every opportunity to add to his tale. What is on the cover is there for a reason; you have only to open the book to see why.
I have not read the book that preceded this and I felt as though I missed out on much of the fun as the story progressed. I do not know if the Author has closed the loop with these two works, however if he has, and if you read only this fine work, as I did, the loop is incomplete. The book is not a sequel in a traditional manner. There are issues of continuity that I believe to be very clever, I will not be certain until I read the earlier book.
Abraham-Louis Breguet made the watch that is the center of attention in this novel. This is a company that is celebrating its 225th Anniversary with a limited edition watch that requires as much money to posses it, as a rather substantial house. These timepieces are so intricate that elements of them can be produced to this day by only a very few companies that have the talent and the technology.
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By A Customer on Sept. 9 2001
Format: Hardcover
A reviewer for NPR damned with faint praise, but still piqued my curiosity. My mistake. The best news is, this is a very fast read. Briefly: neat premise, weak execution. Any comparison to Eco is laughably, even offensively, absurd. Character development is astonishingly weak for what seems like an attempt at physchological drama. If the male characters are under-developed, the women are utterly objectified -- sometimes quite literally. Nikki, arguably the most interesting character, is treated with shallowness throughout and finally unceremoniously discarded when the protagonist's not-so-ambiguous-as-intended sexuality ceases to be relevant. By the end, the reliance on tired self-referential technical tricks is merely irksome and I wished for a hasty conclusion. Mercifully, that's what I got. The pagination ploy of the protagonist-cum-author (or vice versa?) is the final outrage and doesn't seem so amusing under Klieg lights. Some things are been better left for the reader to discover. This was 'ok' for the beach, but it won't get space on my shelf. But give the author his due; judge for yourself.
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