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Mr. Gwyn Hardcover – Jul 8 2014

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 150 pages
  • Publisher: McSweeney's (July 8 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1938073967
  • ISBN-13: 978-1938073960
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #311,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice Pick. "A prolific European master often compared to Italo Calvino, Baricco is still best known in the States for the cult classic Silk--but that should change with this enigmatic novel, which offers genial weirdness unparalleled this side of Haruki Murakami." --Publishers Weekly "Alessandro Baricco's Mr. Gwyn is the kind of wonderful discovery for which book critics wade through stacks of volumes. It is a standout... [and] one of the most unusual stories about love you'll ever read." --San Francisco Chronicle "[Alessandro] Baricco has written a tender meditation on the almost imperceptible ways in which people, and books, can change us, resonate, call out over the years, sending us back in time and destabilizing us, like so many Trojan horses smuggled into our lives under cover of darkness. " --The New York Times Book Review "The work is a blended balance of satisfying resolve and loose ends that wander off the borders of the page, and recommended to anyone interested in fresh similes, comforting strangeness, and the confusion that clouds the human heart." --Booklist "A tour de force of literary fiction" --Kirkus (Starred review) "[A] high-minded literary mystery novel." --Vanity Fair "A very enjoyable read." --The Complete Review "Intriguing... a work of subtle touches."--Three Percent "A cerebral mystery"--Minneapolis StarTribune "This is a strange, satisfying summer read. Fast and light, though not without a little intellectual rigor." --Brooklyn Paper "Alessandro Baricco limns these narrative connections with a great deal of mastery and a very delicate sense of touch." --World Literature Today "A sly, atmospheric work." --The Millions "Baricco's language thrives (here through Ann Goldstein's graceful translation) in this light application of archetypal British mystery to an otherwise Kafkaesque narrative." --Full Stop "The reader of Mr. Gwyn... becomes wholly implicated and immersed, drawn into a dreamy and idiosyncratic world that blurs the division between reader, character and writer." --The Quarterly Conversation

About the Author

Alessandro Baricco is an Italian writer, director, and performer. He has won the Prix Medicis Étranger in France and the Selezione Campiello, Viareggio, and Palazzo al Bosco prizes in Italy.

Ann Goldstein is an editor at The New Yorker. She has translated three novels by Elena Ferrante- The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, The Lost Daughter-Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio, The Chill by Romano Bilenchi, The Father and the Stranger by Giancarlo de Cataldo, and The Worst Intentions by Alessandro Piperno. Her translation of Linda Ferri's Cecilia is forthcoming in May 2010. She received a PEN Renato Poggioli Translation Award and was a visiting scholar at the American Academy in Rome. She is currently editing the complete works of Primo Levi, for which she received a Guggenheim Translation fellowship. She lives in New York.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa8326ea0) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8367aa4) out of 5 stars Wish I could give it seventeen stars! Dec 2 2014
By Skyhawk - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Gwyn is a magnificent, innovative work that totally blew me away. It is one of the best books I have ever read, maybe even my favorite of all time. Nonetheless, it is not a novel in the traditional sense and must be read with an open mind. The two apparent novellas in the volume are a single work, and neither should be read without the other.

It begins with an introduction to Jasper Gwyn, a writer who at 43 has written three very different novels and become so successful that the pressures of his fame weigh on him and limit his ability to create art. He publishes, in the Guardian, perhaps England's most widely read newspaper, an article in which he lists 52 things he will never do again, and the last on the list is to write books. But, as his best friend and literary agent warns him, a writer is a person who must write and can't give it up. So Mr. Gwyn sets out to create a new art form, the writing of a portrait - not a description, but a different kind of portrait created like a painting of the subject, posed in the nude and under nearly identical conditions.

But please make no mistake; this is a work about art, the nature and meaning of art and the interaction between the artist and the subject, not the narration of a linear tale. Those who attempt to read it as such find it disjointed and confusing. It is also a puzzle, because it is the reader's job to connect the dots between Mr. Gwyn and Three Times at Dawn. When you do, it is like those books popular about 20 years ago where you look at an apparent tangle and suddenly it becomes a breath-taking 3-dimensional image. There is a cohesive whole here, an explosive experience of the power of art in the largest sense - the human ability to represent the natural world in a way that endows it with beauty and meaning. And it is a love story like no other.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Sara L. Wilburn - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Like Baricco's other books, Mr. Gwyn is impossible to put down, loads of mischievous fun, comforting and thought-provoking. Its characters are so vivid and so human, I found myself wondering about them days after I finished reading. Baricco's prose is lush, poetic and completely unique... unlike anything I've ever read before.

I love it when writers write about writing and actually create one of their characters' creations, as Baricco does here in the second half. In that regard, it reminds me a little of Nabokov's "Pale Fire." The book's innovative structure and general fearlessness remind me of Cortázar, and his poking holes in reality evokes Borges. Baricco's books share space on my shelf with these great writers because they thoroughly belong there.

If you loved his other novels, you'll love this one. If you've never read him before, this is an excellent place to start.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8367dd4) out of 5 stars As Always - Unearthly and Brilliant Baricco Sept. 14 2014
By Alena - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book mesmerized by Baricco's writing in his Ocean Sea, and my expectations were met in the full. Mr. Gwyn seemed as if almost written by a different author, that different the storytelling felt, but at the same time you couldn't mistake the brilliance of Baricco in his perfect (intriguing, vibrant, human) characters, in his unearthly images and tricks of the plot. I consumed the book in a day, oblivious to everything around me. :)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8367ccc) out of 5 stars Astonishingly good. I was profoundly taken by it Dec 14 2014
By a picker from the left coast - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Astonishingly good. I was profoundly taken by it, from the very beginning. And huge kudos to the translator. Easily the best novel I read this year.

What's it about? The creative process and the world creative artists must inhabit in order to produce something original. Mr. Gwyn wants to be authentic. He's not van Gogh or Matisse. He's precise, though. And he has become a writer, an appreciated writer. So how does he move to that next level? What path is left to him? This is the story of his effort to produce something of value. A surprising series of somethings. With wonderful, original characters. Nothing seems false or forced to me.

I suppose it's possible to remain unsympathetic to the quirky motivations of the protagonist and his comrades. Maybe. More people seem to enjoy Michael Bay movies than those of Kieslowski. There's no accounting for taste. Still, I like to think that anyone who loves a great story, delicately and beautifully told, will treasure this book.

Beyond that, The Hardback edition from McSweeney's is, as usual, da bomb.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8367eb8) out of 5 stars not wonderful Aug. 27 2014
By Jan Priddy - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Two previous reviewers find this novel "impossible to put down" and "lyrically written." Kirkus called it a "tour de force." I am at a loss to understand any of these judgments. I tried to love it, but I didn't. The first section requires persisting through a long section of relative tedium before payback at the end. The second section was also a slog. Overall. not wonderful. But then I am not the world's greatest fan of Murakami—to whom he is compared—though I have read a lot of his work, and enjoyed some of it a great deal. I can see the connection in their unconnectedness. I don't know real people who think, behave, or live like these characters, and frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.

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