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Product Details

  • Series: Kosinski, Jerzy
  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1st Grove Press pbk. ed edition (September 17, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802134823
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802134820
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,627,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By D. J. Zabriskie on August 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
It is really too bad that some reviewers missed so much of what was going on in this novel. It is NOT about rock and roll. It
IS about the conflict between the disposable pop culture which
is America's primary export to the world and the "high" culture
of the old world which is aimed primarily at the intellectual elite. It is also about the areas in which these two cultures
cross, as well as clash.
Cultural conflict abounds everywhere in this novel. Consider
that Domostroy, the classical composer who is one main character here was the name of a marriage manual formerly given to brides
in the Russian Orthodox Church. The "Domostroy" described a
wife's duties to her husband, and the punishments she could expect from him if she failed in her wifely duties. Consider that Andrea, Domostroy's lover, is the very model of an '80's
American feminist, and you begin to understand some of what is going on here symbolicly. The mysterious Godard character can
be seen as an analog for God, film-maker Jean-Luc Godard, as well as former Columbia Records executive Godard Lieberson, also
a classical composer. The introduction of the Claudia character,
a young piano virtuoso whose specialty is Chopin, brings suggestions of the sado-masochistic aspects of the love affair of Chopin with George Sand to bear on the relationship between
Domostroy and Andrea.
Obviously, most Americans DO NOT talk like the characters in this novel. They lack the education. This is not so much a story, as a novel of ideas, and those ideas are as bold and
fascinating as their interplay is complex and bewildering.
Is the entire novel an exercise in cultural snobbism? Read it
and decide for yourself.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By James W. Shepherd on June 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
Reading the reviews for Pinball thus far, there seems to be a determination either to dismiss the work entirely or attribute to it more weight than it deserves.
It helps to know that at the time of Pinball's publication, Kosinski's star in the literary landscape had either already been, or was about to be, pummeled by a scathing expose in The Village Voice that revealed Kosinski as a sociopathic liar and that his three most celebrated works were written by ghostwriters or were plagiarized from lesser known Polish novelists. This was a particularly scathing indictment since Kosinski had gained a great deal of notoriety for writing The Painted Bird which many heralded as an autobiographical account of the author's childhood in Poland during Nazi occupation. Kosinski invited his own downfall because, while he never explicitly stated that his most celebrated book was autobiographical, he either implied it or, at least, never went out of his way to say that it wasn't.
Nevertheless, when the Village Voice article came out, the understandable backlash from critics, not to mention genuine Holocaust survivors, pretty much decimated an already faltering writing career by the early 80s. Which is where Pinball seems to depart.
When one reads a significant body of Kosinski's works, one can see that Kosinski's own (need?) (desire?) (habit?) to glamorize or comment on his own life was an all-consuming practice. Patrick Domostroy's identity is transparently Kosinski. (National Music Award for Octaves; National Book Award for Steps.)
Pinball could almost be the one true autobiographical statement that Kosinski ever made about the trajectory of his professional career.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Worldreels on September 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Several reviewers, showing no reverence, appear not to have heard that Jerzy took his own life some years ago. PINBALL may have been Jerzy's best effort. He inserts layer after layer of the pinball metaphor, a ball bounced hither and fro, mostly by chance. He compares the unexpected motion of a pinball to the music of his hero, Domostroy. These elements of chance plague all his characters. The unexpected, unforeseen, unpredictable falling of the pinball is a metaphor for the sudden cessation of life.

The shadow of death permeates this story. The character Goddard is panicked by the sudden death of a girl he picked up by chance. To him it was as if a phonograph had suddenly been unplugged. The music, ever a metaphor for life, just stopped. What meaning can there be in a life so casually turned off? This anticipation of death was much worse than death itself. Kosinski saw the grim reaper as the ultimate controller of all life.

The rise and fall of Domostroy's career in music was another layer of the pinball metaphor. The search for the composer's inspiration always led to female embedded sex. All love was unrequited. In fact, music itself was presented as the joining of male and female notes. The characters were all presented as puppets whose strings were being pulled by the puppeteer called Music.

Kosinski used the two characters, Domostroy and Goddard, to show the toll that celebrity had inflicted on his own life. The question is, can an artist separate himself from his works once he chooses to exhibit them? Goddard had hoped to avoid the fate of John Lennon by constructing a dream world where he remained anonymous. While Domostroy chose to live in a cell of his own making to avoid the consequences of his own failed music and his own pinballed life.
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