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Songs from the Other Side of the Wall [Kindle Edition]

Dan Holloway
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $2.99

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Book Description

“captures the rhythms and nuances of how we live now in a way that has rarely been done better” LA Books Examiner

“Holloway’s accomplishment is in rendering a world in exquisite detail and still conveying the universal via the personal.” Emprise Review

“a lovely book written in that rare thing: beautiful, lyrical prose.” Jane Smith, The Self-Publishing Review

“Songs From the Other Side of the Wall is a *very* good book” Erica Friedman, Yurikon publishing

“genuine promise”, Scott Pack, Harper Collins Fifth Estate/The Friday Project

“In threads that shimmer like the novel’s central image of petrol-colored silk, what could have been weaves itself into every situation.” Pank

In the Top 10 DRM-free ebooks for Christmas 2009 at ebooksjustpublished

After her mother walks out and returns to England when she’s just a week old, Szandi grows up on the vineyard in Hungary that has been in her family for 300 years. Now 18, Szandi is part of Budapest’s cosmopolitan art scene, sharing a flat and a bohemian lifestyle with her lover and fellow sculptress, Yang. She has finally found her place in the world. When she discovers that her father has only weeks to live, Szandi must choose once and for all: between the past and the present; between East and West; between her family and her lover.

Songs from the Other Side of the Wall is a coming of age story that inhabits anti-capitalist chatrooms and ancient wine cellars, seedy bars and dreaming spires; and takes us on a remarkable journey across Europe and cyberspace in the company of rock stars and dropouts, diaries that appear from nowhere, a telepathic fashion mogul, and the talking statue of a bull.

Praise for Songs from the Other Side of the Wall

“You write extremely well – with a wonderful turn of phrase and descriptive abilities which make for an atmospheric read.”

Melissa Weatherill, Simon and Schuster

“Your voice is very fresh and original…Sandrine is an engaging, intriguing narrator…Your writing is extremely good, very lyrical but always with the aim of moving the story on.”

Random House

“An artful style, with some very striking moments…The parallelism of a person and a country coming of age; the past’s haunting of the present in both; the hopes and fears of different generations: all these are rich veins that you exploit well, and provide a fascinating core to the book”

Harper Collins

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Product Details

  • File Size: 834 KB
  • Print Length: 218 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003LN1UBG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,043,326 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to review September 27, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition
I don't have the time to spend whiling away reading books I don't like. I was, until I finished Songs From the Other Side of The Wall, fairly sure I'd never give anything less than a three star rating because I was fairly sure I wouldn't finish anything with a rating lower than that. And then I finished it. I'll keep it at three stars, because it's very well written, but I've got some serious concerns about this as a story.

Let me start with the good things: Holloway can really write. He's handy with his words. The book is detail and image rich, and they are in the service of the plot, rather than the other way around. He's done a remarkably good job of creating a teen-age lesbian, which since he's a middle aged man, I'm fairly certain that's something he's never been. Sandrine is, for a teen girl, engaging, and for a coming of age story, has some stuff to actually be angsty about. This is not just whining for the sake of whining. I tend to think part of the reason coming of age stories are so frequently Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Historical is because those conventions make it easy to manufacture crucibles in which to create adults. This very real world, very now, set book did a good job of creating a situation to push Sandrine out of childhood towards adulthood, which is hard to do without falling into the whine whine whine of traditional adolescent angst.

The book is simultaneously very European, while being very true to the humanity of anyone who reads it. What I know about Hungary, the cutting edge of radical art/politics, music, and wine can pretty much fill a good sized thimble. Yet the book is well enough written to deal with all of these things without leaving me behind.

The bad: The plot twist.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great coming of age story April 10, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a hard book to review, for a simple summary of the plot doesn't really do it justice; this is a book where mood and tone of voice are more important. (That's not to say there isn't a plot - there is, and it's a good one.) There's some obvious influences like Murakami and Coupland, but for me the key comparison was Salinger, in the way the author turns a teenager's enthusiasms, slang and naivety into something hard-edged yet lyrical. It's a testament to the skill of the author that the words always seem like they belong to the hugely likeable heroine, a teenage lesbian sculptor, even though from the author photo Dan Holloway is none of these things...

There are some flaws - brief off-notes where the dialogue is a shade to pretentious or whimsical to be true - but such is the compelling nature of the main character's voice you're easily carried over these small blips. I guess the main test of a book is whether after finishing it you would read more by the same author - and on this evidence that's a resounding yes from me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish fiction that's Character Driven March 1, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a book truly made for the digital age -- hip, sensuous, smart and up to date.* Holloway is the founder of the Year 0 collective and initially made the book free to grow readership. It developed a devoted following and got quite a bit of buzz, but now it's on Kindle and sales are really taking off.

Szandrine was born in Hungary shortly after the Berlin Wall fell. Abandoned by her British mother, she was raised by her father on a family-owned vineyard. Szandrine is part of the Budapest art scene and lives with her girlfriend, Yang -- a sculptor.

Set in 2006-2007, besides it's exotic setting, what sets this novel apart is the invention of a truly contemporary character. Szandrine, at seventeen, is post-Wall Europe, at ease with the non-issue of her sexuality, and more at home in certain corners of the Internet than anywhere else.

New Year's Eve 2006, Szandi witnesses a tragedy during riots in Budapest. What she sees impels her to explore her past and brings her to an understanding of her future. The story unfolds in real time, flashbacks, letters and in chat-rooms.

It's a complicated tale involving the recall of an online friendship with a dead man, a mysterious letter, and an unsatisfactory reunion mother-child reunion. Holloway, never loses control and the strands are woven together with the connections becoming clear. As Szandrine explores her recent and more distant history, she comes into her own with knowledge and wisdom.

With flashbacks, and switches in time and location, this may not be the easiest narrative to follow, but it captures the rhythms and nuisance of how we live now in a way that has rarely been done better and never loses sight of its characters and their need to connect.

(*Up to date for 2006-7 when it's set. Things have changed since and one wonders if Szandi would just be tweeting and texting these days.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Relentlessly Good February 27, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Where do I start? I've just finished this book and it's left me a little bit dumbfounded. I know I really enjoyed it, but I'm kind of struggling to put my finger on exactly what made it such a good novel.

Ok, starting with a little bit of context, it's not really like anything I've read before. The closest author I can think of is maybe Murakami - there are elements in here that remind me a little bit of 'Sputnik Sweetheart' or 'After Dark'. Like Murakami, there is a sense of magic realism to the novel: there are dreamy conversations that go beyond realism and border a little bit on the arty, the pretentious even, and yet work really well by stopping just short of being unbelievable.

After starting the book I have to be honest and say I found myself wondering why I was enjoying it. Just from a purely 'personal taste' point of view, it seemed to be about being a sculptor, being a teenage girl, being a blogger - triggers in books that would usually have me putting them down as they're not amongst my primary interests in life. But for some reason it just drew me on and I became immersed in it. I was also a little bit confused about the chronology of the narrative at first, but checking back found that was my fault - I hadn't paid attention to the date stamps on the chapters. So that was quickly sorted out.

Essentially, this book is incredibly well written. That's the first thing. It's perfectly paced and has some great descriptive passages that are well balanced within the narrative and handled with a lightness of touch. And the tone is absolutely consistent throughout. It's wistful, and textured, and really well conceived as a view of the world from the eyes of a precocious teenager - ie. moments of intelligence, moments of naivete.
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