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Ten Days in the Hills Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 13, 2007

2.4 out of 5 stars 94 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Smiley (A Thousand Acres) goes Hollywood in this scintillating tale of an extended Decameron-esque L.A. house party. Gathering at the home of washed-up director Max the morning after the 2003 Academy Awards are his Iraq-obsessed girlfriend, Elena; his movie-diva ex-wife Zoe and her yoga instructor–cum–therapist–cum– boyfriend Paul; Max's insufferably PC daughter, Isabel, and his feckless agent, Stoney, who are conducting a secret affair; Zoe's oracular mother, Delphine; and Max's boyhood friend and token Republican irritant Charlie. They watch movies, negotiate their clashing diets and health regimens, indulge in a roundelay of lasciviously detailed sexual encounters and, most of all, talk—holding absurd, meandering, beguiling conversation about movies, Hollywood, relationships, the war and the state of the world. Through it all, they compulsively reimagine daily life as art: Max dreams of making My Lovemaking with Elena, an all-nude, sexually explicit indie talk-fest inspired by My Dinner with Andre, but Stoney wants him to remake the Cossack epic Taras Bulba. Smiley delivers a delightful, subtly observant sendup of Tinseltown folly, yet she treats her characters, their concern with compelling surfaces and their perpetual quest to capture reality through artifice, with warmth and seriousness. In their shallowness, she finds a kind of profundity. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Jane Smiley, who won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for A Thousand Acres, has written on a range of topics: horses, midwestern university life, real estate, Greenland, and, most recently, literature (13 Ways of Looking at the Novel, ***1/2 Jan/Feb 2006). Ten Days, a social satire, tackles the superficial lives of Hollywood denizens—to mixed acclaim. Many reviewers were sufficiently entertained by watching Smiley's set of spoiled, if smart, individuals interact and ruminate on their self-involved concerns; others found the conversations hackneyed. While Smiley's use of the Iraq war created some enlightened discussion, it also seemed like a heavy-handed device. Critics similarly diverged on the characters, which reflected their own view of the novel: some characters stood out; others did not. A few learned important lessons at the end of ten days—but most did not.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (February 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400040612
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400040612
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,807,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jane Smiley does indeed have a keen ear and masterful touch with dialogue, but....449 pages of eavesdropping on the rambling conversations of these assorted Hollywood stereotypes does not add up to an engrossing read. Like many others, after 150 pages of hoping for some redeeming quality in this work, I threw my copy in the trash. This book evoked the same visceral reaction I have to people carrying on cell phone conversations in public places - the instinct for fight or flight.
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Format: Hardcover
Much as I hate to, I have to cast my vote in the negative column. Usually, a book written by a writer as gifted as Jane Smiley would garner an automatic 2 stars just to start. Her way with words is masterful - usually. But this novel is so mind-numbingly slow, and the characters so egocentric and shallow, that it would be difficult to spend 30 minutes in a room with them in person, never mind trying to spend umpteen pages reading about their every physical sensation. It seems none of them have very many intellectual sensations. Seinfeld was the show about nothing, but the characters and conversation were quirky, honest, and funny. This book about nothing has none of those advantages.
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Format: Hardcover
By trying a structure and style that are not based on traditional plot structure and character development, Smiley takes the reader into unfamiliar waters, and it is not always entertaining. But does a novel have to be entertaining? Does every book we read have to deliver the same satisfaction of a neatly wrapped package? Isn't that more the role of television? For me, I don't mind a challenge when an author is trying to something different. I found Ten Days in the Hills to be deeply engrossing, dense and true. Smiley recreated the conversations of her characters with alarming authenticity. But for sure, this book is not for everybody, as is evident from the trouncing she gets here in Amazon.

The other risk Smiley takes is her choice of characters. Rich, snotty, Hollywood types with huge houses and too much sex. What's not to hate? But I admired the writing and the concept behind the work, if not the characters themselves, and to me her novel is a fascinating experiment. Suspend the need to relate to the characters on a personal level and the book comes alive in a very unique way. That's what I thought.
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Format: Hardcover
This book has a lot of sex, but it has no redeeming importance, social, politcal, personal, or otherwise. It isn't just that the basic premise of analagizing the War in Iraq to the Great Plague in Europe in the 14th century is rediculous and offensive. Worse still is the fact that the book has no reason for being written or read. It is vacuous.

I wish I had read my fellow suckers' reviews and saved my money and my time. I got to page 35 and couldn't remember much of anything, because there is nothing memorable. I kept reading, but it only got more dreary. Amazing that Knopf published this MS that should have been left on the cutting room floor as a novel out-take. An equally good alternative would have been to have all the copies put into a burn bag in the CIA so that no one would have even known it existed. The author should be ashamed. The editor should be dismissed.

This book may have some use other than recycling. You can serve the Green Revolution by stoking your wood-burning stove.
2 Comments 42 of 54 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By SKM on October 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have loved everything Jane Smiley has written, but this book was tedious. I skipped entire passages because they were repetititve and added little the story. If you haven't read any Smiley, skip this book and go directly to The Age of Grief.
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Format: Hardcover
Okay, I admit I LISTENED to this book while I drove to and from work. I also, timidly admit, I LOVED it. I also admit, I am about as shallow, self absorbed and stereotypical as most of the characters. Those three truths may explain my delight. The characters are exactly my decade, living in exactly my locale at the time, and shared mostly...my self absorption. In all of the fluff, the author remains brilliant, way too many IQ points...and expounds honestly on 'How to do everything', think anything, and parody anyone, especially oneself. So... if you want to read something, about all topics of important--i.e. children, motherhood and fatherhood, love, sex, war and peace, home decore, architecture, geography, family relations, politics, history, ecology and bioecological political correctness...you got it here. Shallow, yes, but BROAD. Smiley's other novels see a bit self righteous compared to this romp. She isn't really referring to A Midsummer's Night IS she? I suspect that she is just transcribing 1000 conversations she's heard, and probably that she's always wondered if she could publish a bit of soft porn in the guise of modern fiction. She apparently can. Yup, loved it.
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Format: Paperback
I have read just about every word of fiction Jane Smiley has published (even read the Greenlanders!)--except the last 2/3 of this book. It felt claustrophobic and forced, way too talky and the sex was, um, e[...] I feel bad because I look forward to a new book by her the way I look forward to sweet corn in August. But, to stretch this food comparison a little farther, I found reading 10 Days like eating a bowl of wasabi peas, as opposed to her other books, which are like biting into a fresh peach. If you are new to Jane Smiley, may I recommend Horse Heaven, surely her most underrated book. It's epic and funny and entertaining and informative. Let's hope her next book is big and juicy and satisfying and not like some thesis topic gone awry.
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