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Steps
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2011
To keep things brief, this is not a novel for the average reader. This is a violent, darkly sexual, experimental novel split into a series of extremely short vignettes connected by story but more importantly by theme.
I loved this book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2009
This book is a masterpiece in the weighted sense of the word. Notice the two reviews on the main page which were negative:
"just a bit too much for me"
"Some imaginations are almost too much, even for me"

Maybe for you two it is too much. But I think that if this book is too much, then the world is too much, and reading serious books is not for the weary, for those for whom the world is too much. I'm including great but much more timid books--I don't think that you can grasp the greatness, the concept of, let's say, George Eliot, and then justly avoid fiction like this because 'it is too much.' Kosinski's understanding of the world reveals a side many people, especially those whose idea of "what the world is like" is as cushioned as it is for most of us in America, wish did not exist. The book is really about power. It is present literally everywhere, it cannot be ignored, and in each power equation there is someone on both sides. But no, I'm wrong to say that it cannot be ignored, and a great many modern lives are focused on doing just that. Nevertheless, this doesn't mean we should not understand it and see it in action.

These things happen everyday in the world. They happened to happen to this narrator. And this narrator happened to write his experience down into a solipsistic fragmentary masterpiece which portrays his battle with being a single human, a solipsistic human, in a world of other solipsists.

What I haven't mentioned so far is that this 149 page book is the most exciting and fun read I've had in a long, long time. It is pure fun. You won't be able to put it down. And its crowning prose achievement is the outrageously pregnant concision, like Kafka's work, but in a way that seems even less possible to replicate. I wish I knew how he did it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2013
Shoddy proofreading interrupts the reading experience of Kosinski's masterpiece.Grove Press should be ashamed! I have only read the E-Book. Perhaps the paperback has better proofing.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2011
The book is good, full of twisted scenes and strange dialogues.
What is terrible is the quality of the ebook conversion, probably made with OCR.
A lot of missing full stops, wrong words (i.e. "real" becomes "red"), and even asterisks when there shouldn't be.
You better buy the paperback version...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2014
Very disturbing and creative group of stories; things that will stick with you. Unfortunately,it has many many typos. Lack of periods, the word barn has become bam. You have to almost translate the words at certain points.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2013
My rating does not reflect the author or the prose, which I think are both fantastic. My two-star rating goes to the quality of the ebook. IT IS LOADED WITH TYPOS!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2014
I loved this book so much I read it pretty much twice in a row. Kosinski's prose is beautifully simple and engaging, but squeamish readers might want to avoid this book, because it contains a high dosage of disturbing stories and images and thoughts. But to be fair it also contains powerfully brilliant same.
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on March 12, 2015
This 1969 award winning book did not age well. Times have changed and titillating paragraphs don’t hold the power in 2015 that they may have held in 1969. The book is not really a book of short stories since many of the vignettes are just one or two paragraphs or a page of dialogue between lovers. There is no narrative structure, a reader could start at the last page and work forward and not miss anything. Kosinski’s better book, The Painted Bird, is held together by a naïve child narrator and is chronologically ordered and geographically centered. Not so with Steps. If there is a narrator, it is a sexually experienced adult. There is no central geographic boundary for these paragraphs with many of them taking place in Western Europe while others take place in authoritarian Eastern European countries. There may be a message here that authoritarian governments suppress so much spontaneous behavior in their population that the sense of spontaneity emerges behind closed doors as sexual and violent variations. In other words, the more authoritarian the form of government, the more secretive and kinky the sex by the population; an interesting hypothesis on which Kosinski has real experience.

There is also minimal characterization, just actors acting out various scenes of sexuality or violence. But the book is also courageous in that it attempts to explore aspects of sexuality and violence that are not often discussed and to also hint at some existential meaning-making that human beings will overlay upon their desires and instinctual passionate behaviors.

Whereas women were most often the victims of violence in this book, women were also characterized as attempting to make the most sense around sexual attachments. However, the book tends to treat violence and highly intimate sexual behaviors in a similar manner. So gang rape is described in the same neutral tone as sex during menstruation. They are not equivalent and yet the tone of the book would present an equivalency. I realize many readers would not agree with me on this point.

I appreciate the brevity and Kosinski’s willingness to tell the tale, to get to the point. However I was left with a sense that the vignettes were somehow related to his personal experiences. The sexual experiences especially seemed autobiographical and not removed enough from the musing of the author. A few strengths and a few weaknesses results in a score of 3.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2000
Kosinski, or the Kosinski committee or whatever it was (Paul Auster is one of many who claim to have been paid to 'fix up' his early drafts), wrote some psychologically fascinating and beautifully written stuff (The Painted Bird, Steps, and to a lesser extent, Cockpit and The Devil Tree) and some really bad stuff (Pinball, The Hermit of Whatever-it-was-th Street). This is probably the best of them all. Buy it.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Steps is amazing, spellbinding, and entrancing. the narrator is distanced to such an eextent that the amorality permeates every word. There is a strong anti communist vibe which no longer feels relevant, instead summing up a time I didn't really live through. Everything in the books feels both distant and close
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