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The Apartment [Kindle Edition]

Greg Baxter
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Apartment, the astonishing first novel by Greg Baxter, is a tale of war and peace, friendship and aloneness.

A man walks across an old European capital. Heavy snow falls. He has come here from far away, hoping to forget. Instead, he remembers: home, war, lost friends. Complicity. In the company of a new friend and alive to the new experiences of the city, he moves through the snow and his complicated history in search of an apartment.

The Apartment, by the author of the acclaimed memoir A Preparation for Death, is a novel about war, the relationship between America and the rest of the world, and the brittle foundations of Western culture; but above all it is a book about the mysteries and alchemies of friendship - truthful, moving and brilliant. Acclaimed by Hisham Matar, Adam Thorpe and Roddy Doyle, among others, The Apartment is a deeply original and profoundly involving novel.

'Admirable for its scope, ambition and unashamed seriousness of purpose, as well as its willingness to take stylistic and structural risks' Julie Myerson, Observer

'Stunningly good' Susan Jeffreys, Saturday Review, BBC Radio Four

'Baxter's superbly elegant, understated writing explores the dynamics of America's relationship with the rest of the world' The Times

'Lucidly written and astutely observed ... The novel exerts a hypnotic force ... Baxter continually undercuts our expectations for his novel. And it is precisely this sort of subversion, along with the author's shimmering prose, that makes The Apartment such a surprisingly compelling read' New York Times

'Absorbing, atmospheric and enigmatic ... Its long, frigid journey into a long, sleepless night explores a man's uneasy relationship with his past, himself and a world in which violence is inescapable' Los Angeles Times

'Powerful ... Baxter's clean and direct prose generates its own momentum' Daily Beast

A wonderful, horrible, wise novel' Dazed & Confused (Book of the Month)

'A dark and sinewy novel, written with sparse clarity and affecting subtlety' Stuart Evers, Observer (Books of the Year)

Greg Baxter was born in Texas in 1974. He lived for a number of years in Dublin, and now lives in Berlin. He is the author of the acclaimed memoir A Preparation for Death. The Apartment is his first novel.

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Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, December 2013: At times meandering, but also but weirdly captivating, this debut novel follows an unnamed man shambling through the snowy streets of an unnamed Eastern European city (Prague?)--an ancient place where “intense joy and intense sorrow are extinct”--on a freezing-cold day as he and his not-quite-girlfriend search for an apartment. That’s basically it. And while it never quite launches, the defiantly moody and sullen tone has admirable charms. I felt I should’ve been wearing a scarf while reading. And smoking. And drinking. Eventually we learn bits of backstory: the man is an Iraq war vet who later returned to Baghdad and made a fortune. His apparent guilt, and the unspoken horrors he seems to have witnessed (or perpetrated?) give the book its emotional heft. Quirky, poetic, and flaunting some truly stunning moments, this is a book to give into, and a writer to watch. --Neal Thompson


Admirable for its scope, ambition and unashamed seriousness of purpose, as well as its willingness to take stylistic and structural risks -- Julie Myerson Observer A wonderful, horrible, wise novel Dazed & Confused (Book of the Month) Stunningly good -- Susan Jeffreys Saturday Review, BBC Radio 4 Imagine you're on a roller-coaster ... suddenly, without warning, it tips vertiginously, so quickly that your chest constricts and while you're there, suspended, momentarily, at the apex of this roller-coaster, you're aware suddenly of a kind of clarity, a totally new perspective on everything below. Greg Baxter's The Apartment is a bit like this ... Full of unshowy wisdom and surprising moments of beauty Sunday Telegraph Baxter's superbly elegant, understated writing explores the dynamics of America's relationship with the rest of the world The Times His protagonist is not merely struggling beneath the weight of the violence in his own life story; he grapples with the larger sense of history that infuses the text with an effect that recalls WG Sebald. ... There's a maturity to The Apartment not often found in debut novels. -- Lucy Scholes The Independent Exceptional - a book rich in ideas and poetry. Its power is accumulative and it moves with a calm and yet inevitable progress. It is a deeply mysterious and admirable book. -- Hisham Matar The Apartment is a small novel - but it's actually huge. Clever, entertaining, brave; it stretches the rules while following a man through one day of his life. I loved it. -- Roddy Doyle An interesting, honourable novel -- James Lasdun The Guardian The Apartment is a wonderfully beguiling novel, evoking to perfection that sense of eerie possibility one has when in a strange city. Its account of a new friendship poised on the edge of love is superbly sure-footed. -- Adam Thorpe Beautiful. Magnificent. Heartbreaking. Greg Baxter is a true original. -- Ian Sansom A stunning book - beautifully constructed, elegantly written and deeply felt -- Stuart Evers The Apartment is a mesmerising story of lostness, friendship and dwelling. Both breathtaking and hauntingly beautiful, Greg Baxter's first novel is as crisp and joyful as freshly fallen snow. --various

Product Details

  • File Size: 322 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (April 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844882861
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844882861
  • ASIN: B00796LJK8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #296,533 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
While this book is literate and subtle, I kept thinking I should enjoy it more. The language is subtle and heavily symbolic. I think perhaps it is the very craft of writing that kept me removed from this character desperate for a new start in a secure place. The narrator has come from America to an unnamed European city after serving in Iraq. He engages tricks of perception to try to suppress memories as they emerge unwanted.

While the book remains vague in many senses in order to portray a universal search, at times this very vagueness can put the reader off. His determination to learn the city, its people and its language can be deeply depressing at points. This atmosphere is in fact an achievement of the author, but it makes me feel uneasy. I am aware that the book takes me to a designated sense, and I respect this. I am just not always willing to come for the ride. Nonetheless, this is a novel of note and one that deserves to be read.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

Greg Baxter's debut novel, The Apartment, is a terrifically written, somewhat meandering book that both is and is not about what you think it is.

In an unnamed European city (although some reviewers have guessed this is Prague, Baxter said the novel's setting is an amalgamation of several different cities), an unnamed American narrator is planning to meet his friend, Saskia, to find him an apartment, as he had been living austerely in a formerly elegant hotel since he arrived. The narrator is in his early 40s, a former Navy sailor who had served on a submarine in Iraq and then returned to that country as a defense contractor. But he doesn't like to talk about the past, because of the things he did while he was in Iraq.

"I could fill the silence by talking about the past, but I try not to think about the past. For much of my life, I existed in a condition of regret that was contemporaneous with experience, and which sometimes preceded experience. Whenever I think of my past now I see a great black wave that has risen a thousand stories high and is suspended above above me, as though I am a city by the sea, and I hold the wave in suspension through a perspective that is as constrained as a streak of clear glass in a fogged-up window."

The novel takes place over a one-day period, although the narrator finds himself reminiscing on a number of encounters he has had with people throughout his life, both after arriving in this city and in his life before coming to the city. It is around Christmastime, and winter has the city in its thrall. Snow falls throughout the day.

The narrator and Saskia travel throughout the city, on foot as well as by train, bus, streetcar, and taxi.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful jewel box of a novel December 13, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Great book, reminds me of some the the best of Greene or Fitzgerald, while being quite distinctive and of the 21st century. Haven't read a book I've enjoyed so much in ages.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Out in the cold December 17, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful book about trying to escape oneself and not succeeding. You can read it at one sitting. When you've finished with it, it will not be finished with you.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best novels I read in 2013 December 24, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Sharp, intelligent, lonely.
24 hours only.
Best literary debut in years.
Iraq is hanging around us like a deep fog
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing! April 12, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I had expected more from this novel having read a few reviews and recommendations. A nameless protagonist in a nameless city, nothing happens, no expectations for anything to happen either. A 41-year old man, healthy and without financial troubles, to whom nothing particularly tragic happened is disenchanted with life, has no ambition, no hope, no projects. Towards the end of the novel the character says he is beginning to sense that "... everybody thought of me as a bit of tedium." That sums it up - it is tedious and uninteresting and pointless. Reminds me of a recent study by Gallup International where the French think of themselves as less fortunate than the Iraqis, Afghans or Nigerians!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hmmmm March 16, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I don't want to judge the author because the description and vocabulary do give the story some substance, but I don't recall ever reading a book with less of a plot. Seriously; I would say it is not really a story because there are no events. There is no conflict or resolution, the setting is anonymous, and even the characters are vague. I kept reading and waiting for something to happen, but it just didn't. Most unusual.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed it, but not great January 18, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The novel is interesting and a throwback for me to my youth when I was enamored by the existentialists. I disliked the author interview that was at the end of the book. The story left me with questions, and the interview interfered with my own process of pondering what I read. Everything the author said addressed things that had me thinking at the end. Why give me the answers?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 18 days ago by Werner
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Novels I've Read
I absolutely loved this novel. The leisurely pace speaks of an appreciation of the little things that make up life, and I loved the European setting and the way the narrator's past... Read more
Published 27 days ago by Nancy Adams
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring but Anxiety-Producing
I found the novel meandering and boring, but oddly it made me anxious, rather like a Kafka novel. I read it at the recommendation of a friend who had read a positive review, but... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Carole I. Sojka
2.0 out of 5 stars Feel like I missed something.
I read many of the online reviews before buying this book, and I was expecting to like it. Why, just look at the picture on the cover. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ellen N.
5.0 out of 5 stars My mind was taken for a wild ride!
First novel written in the voice of a US soldier who avoids the US and all things US by moving to an unnamed, northern European, midwinter city. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Dave Shumway
3.0 out of 5 stars Dark and wintry
This book is a little like a very short Ulysses in that it all takes place in twenty-four hours and it has a stream of consciousness flavor. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Book Lady
2.0 out of 5 stars This Book isn't What I expected it To Be!
I was dissatisfied in this book. I expected it to be more like a story that explored what is was liked to try to find an apartment in a foreign city as an expat from another... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Debbie
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich setting, deeply personal story told by a fictional character. No...
I was never a big stream of consciousness fan, but this was very very good. An ex Navy Iraq war vet moves to a Balkan city to be anonymous and seal his history out of his life. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Bookwoody
3.0 out of 5 stars Did not like it very much
The book is boring and I did not care to read it to the end. How could you like the book without any action, or conversation, or interesting characters?
Published 3 months ago by Mary Gulyak
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read, but....
This is the story of one day in the life of an American ex-pat ex-soldier in an unnamed European City as he looks for an apartment accompanied by a local girl, Saskia, with whom he... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Momma Four Times
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