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Koolaids: The Art of War Hardcover – April 15, 1998


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1st edition (April 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312186932
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312186937
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,769,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Alameddine is a respected painter who brings great visual skill to his first literary work. The novel is really an effectively conceived collage of the viewpoints of several characters: Samia is a Lebanese woman crisscrossing east and west Beirut during its darkest days, Mark is an HIV-positive American who faces his own end while mourning the steady loss of friends during the worst years of the AIDS plague, and Mohammed is a belligerent and misunderstood painter who tries to give form and meaning to it all, just as the author means to do through his fiction. War, death, sex in a morally empty and meaningless world?when mixed on Alameddine's palette, they make for fascinating reading. To make his point, Alameddine freely cites thinkers whose takes on life and death he finds laughably wanting. He also includes news reports which, when juxtaposed with the situations of his characters, makes us see by just how far those not living the horror can miss the truth. Immediate, pitched, and frightening to read, this work is recommended for larger public and academic libraries.?Roger W. Durbin, Univ. of Akron, OH
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

This emotionally charged first novel by a Lebanese-American writer and artist is an impressionistic collage that skillfully juxtaposes its gay protagonists' defiant encounters with AIDS, the embattled recent history of Lebanon during its own civil war and ``the Israeli siege of Beirut,'' and more general permutations of estrangement from society, family, and nation. Alameddine's characters (who are, unfortunately, not always clearly distinguished) include a Lebanese matriarch whose diary records the sufferings of her kindred throughout a 30-year span of political turmoil, several variously involved San Franciscans during that city's own plague years, andmost cruciallya painter whose garishly violent canvases are calculated distortions of his Lebanese homeland's chaotic past and present. The ``novel'' assembles summaries of that history together with journal excerpts, letters, poems, discursive statements often framed as aphorisms (``in America, I fit, but I do not belong. In Lebanon, I belong, but I do not fit''), and aborted literary works. If we're occasionally unsure whos speaking (or being addressed), there's no mistaking the books furious argumentative energy here--whether its scattershot wit takes the form of mocking allusions to the biblical Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; a rudely satirical playlet whose characters include Eleanor Roosevelt, Krishnamurti, Julio Cortazr, and (a probably gay) Tom Cruise; imaginary conversations with eminent writers (Borges, Coover, and Updike among them); or parodies whose subjects range from Middle Eastern scriptures to American movies and TV shows (one of The Waltons is particularly droll). Alameddine stumbles when fulminating nakedly against American materialism and heterosexual hypocrisy--yet some of his baldest declarations are among his finer effects (for example, an HIV-positive protagonist's lament that ``nothing in my life is up to me''). A wildly uneven, but powerful and original portrayal of cultural and sexual displacement, alienation, and--in its admirably gritty way--pride. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

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Hope to see more books like this one.
Ramzi
It was poignant, touching and I fell in love with the characters.
C. R. Eads
I think every Lebanese person should read this book.
"nodude"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 27, 1998
Format: Hardcover
For any gay man who participated in gay/queer communities in the late 1980's, reading "Koolaids" will be like experiencing a long, accurate and precise memory of those furious and painful times (details of life during the epidemic are interspersed with vignettes about war-era Beirut. Trust me - it works.)
"Koolaids" is not just a good book. It is angry (Remember when people were angry? Ah, what a lark!), funny, queer and smart. It is original. Many previous AIDS memoirs/fictions have been precious accounts of loss, sweaters and Paris. Really. If you pick up the three most famous gay male memoirs about AIDS, you will read as much about France and good cheese and fine wine as you will about loss and disease. These books say more about the authors' sartorial and gastronomic preferences than about the epidemic or the times. "Koolaids", on the other hand, reminds us of the uses of anger and grief, and of what the virus did to individuals, communities and a nation. By returning the reader to a wholly different era, "Koolaids" makes history.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is brilliant, able to be humorous and entertaining even as it takes you into some of the darkest moments of our time. The juxtaposition of the AIDS crisis in America and the War in Lebanon is an effective choice, it creates a new perspective to two very emotionally difficult and recent parts of our history that we are still collectively coming to terms with. as a gay lebanese-american i found the voices of Alameddine's characters to be particularly haunting. Mr. Alameddine is an exciting and daring writer and I anxiously anticipate his new works while re-reading his currently published books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "nodude" on June 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I received this book as a birthday gift. As a Lebanese person, I found this book extremely enlightening and charming. It was everything I always felt, since I shared with the author a similar experience of growing up during the war times in Beirut. This book brought back old memories that are both painful and joyful.
Mr Alameddine's style is impeccable. You fly from character to character, from reality to dreams, to fiction, and then back to reality. His depiction of the Lebanese culture in the "play" he wrote about the two lebanese women in Paris is hilarious and unfortunately very true.
I think every Lebanese person should read this book. It connects very well with any person who grew up in two different cultures. It is time for our culture to face reality and deal with the issues of homosexuality and AIDS. I ordered Alameddine's next book "The Perv" and I can't wait to receive it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
clever. i am involved, i want to stop because there is just too much to deal with in those pages, my eyes are constantly filling with tears, but i cannot. beirut is a city i love, and death is something i do not like. and i cannot understand how cruel, simply cruel, living can be. i just wish deeply that the wirter does not have aids, it would be painful. yes, from a very egocentric personal point of view. sorry. war, death, aids, being gay, all are personal stuff.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 15, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book is the best book I have read in a long time, a true masterpiece. It is the only book I began rereading right after finishing it. Both heart-achingly sad and hilariously funny, It shines through with a remarkable wit. Comparing and contrasting the Lebanese civil war and the AIDS epidemic in the US was very effective. This is a must read book for everyone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 23, 1998
Format: Hardcover
KOOLAIDS is Rabih Alameddine's first novel, and it shows. It is chock full of quite serious flaws: The voices of the various characters are indistinguishable. The characters themselves are almost indistinguishable, and one often has to turn back to earlier sections for clues to who is speaking at any particular time. The author indulges in many affectations, such as his habit of ending segments with a separate, one sentence paragraph which seeks, it seems, to be portentous, but more often is simply annoying. He goes off on little riffs of word play that tell us only that his word processor has a competent thesaurus. In short, Alameddine has a lot to learn about writing. So with all these flaws, how is it that I could not put this book down? How did Alameddine manage to bring me to tears at one moment, and then ten pages later have me laughing out loud?
I'll tell you how. Alameddine has the eye of a journalist, the perspective of the laughing Buddha, the ferocity of a suicide bomber, and the impertinence of Loki the trickster. He has taken the formal novel, turned it inside out, and hung it on the clothesline to air out. Here is something new, sexy, fresh, irreverent, funny, effective, and at times, shattering. The characters are vague and two-dimensional because they exist only as media for channeling the voice of Alameddine, and his is the voice of a prophet both laughing and crying in the wilderness. At every page we see him peeking out at us, inviting us to examine our categories of good and evil, of darkness and light, of courage and cowardice. KOOLAIDS is all about Rabih Alameddine, revealing a character of incisive intelligence, awesome wit, and a capacity for divergent thinking that can stun the reader at any moment.
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