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The Character of Rain: A Novel Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Length: 144 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
"The Nest" by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance. Learn more | See author page

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Editorial Reviews


"Ingenious...With great delicacy, Nothomb updates the age-old divide between East and West in this delectable little book." --O, The Oprah Magazine

"Elegantly written...Nothomb demonstrates a shrewd understanding of the intricate ways Japanese relationships are made and spoiled." --The New York Times Book Review

"A polished little satire." --The Wall Street Journal


"'French literary lioness Nothomb imagines the inner life of her first two years of childhood, richly depicting this wondrous secret universe.' Elle; 'Potently distills from the state of infancy the intensity of beginnings, the precariousness, the trailed clouds of glory.' New York Times"

Product Details

  • File Size: 241 KB
  • Print Length: 144 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0312286007
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; Reprint edition (April 1, 2007)
  • Publication Date: April 1, 2007
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FA5QHM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #558,229 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"In the beginning was nothing, and this nothing had neither form not substance -it was nothing other than what it was." I read the opening sentence of Amélie Nothomb's, The Character of Rain (Métaphysique des Tubes), and was hooked. I was not disappointed. Using a Japanese belief that children are gods until age 3, at which time they fall and become human Nothomb constructs a brilliant study of infancy. Deeply autobiographical, like all her work, and deeply philosophical, like all her work, what amazed me most was how completely she captured or imagined the self-preoccupation that is early childhood. Any child will believe it is the center of the universe (and why not an infant must be watched and waited on), and yet the same child will experience "the fall," the recognition that he or she is not a god, is not the center of the universe. Nothomb's ability to recognize this essential problem of being a child and tease out of her own experience the joys and pains of existence in a way that is as imminently and entertainingly readable as it is philosophical is where her genius lies. I've never read anything like it.
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Format: Hardcover
In the beginning before there is an Amélie, God exists as a tube eating, breathing, and excreting. However, the creators are a bit unhappy that this baby behaves more like a vegetable so these parents nickname the tube "la Plante". However, two years later la Plante abruptly moves and cries. Then the Tube's Belgium grandma arrives with the most devastating poison known in the universe, white chocolate. The Tube tastes the sweetness and a new conscience has metamorphosed. Life in the tube has turned quite sweetly though the awakening of Amelie makes her realize that paradise will be lost.
This unusual autobiographical tale first is told in the third person until the pivotal moment in history, the infamous chocolate incident, when the plot is written as a first person narrative. Not everyone will want to read this metaphysical story, but those who do will find a clever, witty, and intelligent tale that even makes the earliest of days come across realistically. Except for the title, fans will appreciate Amelie Nothomb's work that does not miss a beat in the translation from the original French MÉTAPHYSIQUE DES TUBES.
Harriet Klausner
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Format: Paperback
I have to believe that it was the publisher, and not the translator, who took the wonderful (and easily translatable)title of the French edition and turned it into something that sounds like the title of a police procedural (set in Seattle starring Andy Garcia, that you would avoid if you were to stumble past it on HBO), rather than the original and beautiful thing it is.

This is one of my favorite books. No summary will do it justice.
I went back to the re-read the French edition (currently known in America as "the freedom edition") and found that the important chapter about the character of rain appears two thirds of the way through the book and it is NOT central. The discussion of tubes at the beginning and end of the book (as related to the godlike infant/narrator and to her pet koi) are the meat of the story.
This is a pet peeve of mine (or more correctly, a black beast [bete noire] of mine). Why the prejudgement among American publishers that their readers will react violently against philosophy? Thank god they didn't spot the Kierkegaardian echoes in her "Stupeur et Tremblements" or they would have found something different than "Fear and Trembling" for the American edition. It's not just here and with Scholastic's change of the Philospher's Stone to the Sorcerer's Stone either; there is a general dumbing down of titles when they cross the Atlantic.
This wonderful book deserves its real title.
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Format: Paperback
I've always liked the idea of language - and how it must have started. What man's earliest words would have been - this book is a study in early awareness and the choosing of words.

I thought I'd figured out that the first word that Rain would speak would be "Nothing" ("Vacuum" her third word was a close runner-up). She was a blend of King Lear and Emily (from HIGH WIND IN JAMAICA). And the early hammering home of Nothing in TCOR made me sure this was likely to be her first spoken word.

I was struck by the clean shift in gears from the early open tube writing to the awakened child. The first line that stuck with me was p. 28: "Memory is one of luxury's most indispensible allies." The quick etymology of "infant" - "incapable of speech" (57). Rain's 7th word "Sea" and the Emily's earthquake-like description of Saturn & its ring (58). Rain's first rescue from drowning. The related knowledge that it might be "better to let someone die than to deprive him of his freedom" (63). The terror brought on by carp (and boys). Her father's involvement in Noh. Rain's affinity for water. The similarities in description to Rain's early "tube" state or no longer needing a tube or the fish as tubes (58 & 115).

Another kicker: "Tell me what disgusts you and I will tell you who you are" (116).

But the core of this story is the entire cascading series of falls that Rain must go through to become merely human.
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