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The Translation of Dr Apelles: A Love Story Hardcover – August 22, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press (August 22, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555974511
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555974510
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,271,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The intertwining of two love stories results in a strangely compelling take on matters of the heart in Treuer's third novel (after The Hiawatha). Dr. Apelles, a Native American who translates Native American texts, works as a book classifier for RECAP (Research Collections and Preservations), a "prison for books" located near an unnamed American city. While at the local public library, Dr. Apelles finds a manuscript that he begins translating. The story-within-a-story is of Bimaadiz and Eta, sole surviving infants of separate villages wiped out by a devastating winter. Discovered by different men from the same tribe, the children are adopted by their saviors, reared together as friends and eventually fall in love. Dr. Apelles, while translating the story, realizes his life is unfulfilling, so he begins a love affair with a fellow book classifier, Campaspe, that parallels Bimaadiz's and Eta's. Treuer obscures time and place in both storylines, and though neither the plots nor characters are remarkable, the author's beautiful prose—Flaubert in some places, Chekhov in others—grabs and holds attention so well that even the narrative contrivances and unlikely coincidences don't diminish the pleasurable reading experience. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Treuer's latest novel is a metaphysical blending of two love stories, one mythological, the other very much in the urban present. Dr Apelles is a Native American translator of ancient Native American texts--every other Friday. The rest of his time is spent in a vast library, sorting an endless succession of obscure books. He feels that no one would notice if he disappeared, and knows that he takes too much comfort in "the bouquet of languages he holds so dear." Then a new translation he is working on sends him into a tailspin. It's a mythological tale of two orphaned Native Americans from different tribes who fall in love, suffer hardships, and eventually marry. Dr Apelles becomes immersed in his translation, seeing his own life as pale and loveless in comparison. As he becomes romantically involved with a coworker, the translation becomes the story he tells her of his own life. Treuer's novel comprises an intricate and provocative labyrinth that challenges the reader at every turn. (See p.16 for Treuer's Native American Fiction.) Deborah Donovan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
5 star
57%
4 star
14%
3 star
29%
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See all 7 customer reviews
Truly, a novel beautiful beyond words.
Erica Rivera
They are both beautiful and innocent, and much of their struggle is the result of these characteristics.
Armchair Interviews
Treuer's style is highly readable yet very complex and symbolic at the same time.
Just a guy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on May 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
The Translation of Dr. Apelles is a book that sneaks up on you and takes you to unexpected places.

The novel has two intertwined stories. There is the star-crossed love of Eta and Bimaadiz, two Indian children who are found and raised by families in Agencytown. They are both beautiful and innocent, and much of their struggle is the result of these characteristics. Since they are both the only children of their adoptive families, and they share a love of hunting and trapping, they often find themselves working together. Their love grows as they do, but not as simply. Jealous friends, marauding war bands, and plain misunderstanding keep them apart.

The other story is of Dr. Apelles, who is translating the story of the children. He learns as much about himself as he does of the story. We are introduced to him as he realizes that he has never truly loved or been loved. As his story alternates with that of Eta and Bimaadiz, we see him come more alive to the people around him and learn the nature and pain of loving. We meet Campaspe, a woman who works with him at RECAP, and who is attracted to Dr. Apelles long before he finds himself to be attractive. Their relationship is also challenging, not so much because of external events, but because of their own idiosyncrasies.

This novel is written in a style (which appears old fashioned) with a narrator who knows everything that is going to happen and who shares snippets of this omniscience you. The stories take on a life of their own with characters that are well rounded and believable. The result is a very readable book with a wonderfully satisfying conclusion.

Few books make me say, "That was a good book" at their end. This was one.

Armchair Interviews agrees.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Arrow2u on September 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Treuer's "Dr Apelles" is a powerful tour-de-force. The writer proves himself well-read and well-stocked with echoes from western literary tradition as well as Native American storytelling content and structures. The novel assembles all of the parts into a splendid love story--love of stories and storytelling, romantic love, and caustic love of self and of other. Brilliant as the writer proves himself I believe Treuer goes a bit too far. Clearly a reader's writer, the author overextends his hand with too much repetition. The doubling of character ideas, actions, gestures, and phrases are necessary to weave this complex tapestry through motifs and modalities. However, additional editing would have been helpful to move Teuer's brilliance forward. Lots of high notes in this novel, but more ideas through less words were needed.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Just a guy on January 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Translation of Dr. Apelles is a great story for those interested in some good "beach reading" and a fantastic literary criticism of what Treuer calls "Native American Fiction" for those interested in the field of indigenous authors.

Treuer's style is highly readable yet very complex and symbolic at the same time. The book is full of allusions and referenes to past literary works (see Hall's review) but can be read simply for pleasure as well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Erica Rivera on November 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
I don't read novels (I'm a memoir autor and creative non-fiction fanatic) but I plowed through "Apelles" in a record 48 hours. The language is so sensual and rich, the details so sharp, the sexuality so subtle, and the story builds so swiftly, I couldn't stop reading. The narrator's voice grabs you from the first page and reveals, little by little, the depths of the characters. Writers will especially relate to Dr. Apelles, but this book appeals to both men and women of any interests. I also appreciate Treuer's wry humor and how he pokes fun at his own genre throughout.

Nothing else I could say would do justice to this amazing book. Truly, a novel beautiful beyond words. You simply have to experience it for yourself. I can't wait to read it again!

~Erica Rivera, author of "INSATIABLE: A Young Mother's Struggle with Anorexia"
Insatiable: A Young Mother's Struggle with Anorexia
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More About the Author

David Treuer is Ojibwe from the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. He grew up on Leech Lake and left to attend Princeton University where he worked with Paul Muldoon, Joanna Scott, and Toni Morrison. He published his first novel, LITTLE, when he was twenty-four. Treuer is the recipient of the Pushcart Prize, and his work has been named an editor's pick by the Washington Post, Time Out, and City Pages. His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Esquire, Slate.com, and The Washington Post.

He also earned his PhD in anthropology and teaches literature and creative writing at The University of Southern California. He divides his time between LA and The Leech Lake Reservation.

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