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Zoo Time: A Novel Hardcover – October 16, 2012

2.8 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Outlandish, fueled by rage, very much like a brilliant comic stand-up routine… a comic novel of ideas.” ―The New York Times Book Review

“Anyone who appreciates strong, clever writing will find much to enjoy [in Zoo Time]. [Jacobson] is a confident, gifted writer who can make points with panache.” ―Houston Chronicle

“Funny and elegiac at once.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Howard Jacobson's prose is hilarious…this literary novel about the death of the literary novel sounds comedy's depths of sorrow.” ―Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Just because most of us don’t fantasize continuously about ditching our wives for our mothers-in-law doesn’t mean it’s not an excellent premise for a novel. …entertaining ― and biting ― to the final twist.” ―The Forward

“[A]wickedly funny satire of publishing…It is always a joy to read Jacobson's prose, whose beguilingly casual tone belies its meticulous construction. This newest work confirms yet again his singular ability to weave comedy, sex, ideas, and deep insight into irresistible storytelling.” ―Jewish Book World

About the Author

An award-winning writer and broadcaster, Howard Jacobson is the acclaimed author of The Mighty Walzer (winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize), Kalooki Nights (longlisted for the Man Booker Prize), No More Mr. Nice Guy, The Act of Love, and, most recently, the Man Booker Prize-winning The Finkler Question. He lives in London.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; First Edition edition (October 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781608199389
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608199389
  • ASIN: 160819938X
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,542,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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By Alan A. Elsner VINE VOICE on August 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is the book you write after winning the Man Booker prize -- the one in which you pour out all your bile, explore all your bitter obsessions, say all that you've been dying to say for years. It's the one your agent and publisher allow to slide by without editing or criticism - after all, you've earned it. Unfortunately for readers, it's the one that subjects them to a long, repetitive diatribe that begins as mildly amusing and ends as crashingly boring.

The plot, if there can said to be one, concerned aging English novelist Guy Ableman, married to the beauteous redhead Vanessa but lusting after her mother, the equally beauteous redhead Poppy. In the meantime, Ableman tries to think of a new book he can write to rescue his faltering career while bemoaning at length what he sees as the death of intelligent reading.

Nothing much happens over the course of the 100,000-odd words Mr. Jacobson has given us -- but that's kind of the point. The book is an extended rant about the state of publishing. Jacobson mourns the death of traditional publishing as it used to be practiced -- where the author got an agent with whom he/she had lengthy alcoholic lunches. The agent then had lengthy alcoholic lunches with the publisher and a deal was struck. Critics did their thing in the "quality newspapers" and readers did the rest.

Now, we are in an age of digital publishing, Kindles, reviewers on Amazon and book clubs, all of which Jacobson hates. He also hates the "breakthrough novel," young adult literature, books about the Tudors or about vampires and Harry Potter. I'm sure he not only hates this review (that thought gives me pleasure, in the best tradition of Jacobson himself) but he hates the fact that I can even write this review.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I know I am going to take a bashing for this but I am thrilled to be the first Amazon reviewer to gush and give the maximum amount of well-deserved stars to Guy Abelman, the irresistibly self-deprecatory hero of Zoo Time: A Novel, the latest novel by Howard Jacobson.

"There are moments of trembling collusion in the lives of men and women, when the sacred rules governing decent society reassert themselves only to be broken. Right shows its face for the final time, in order that we can relish wrong.

Zoo time."

Guy Abelman is an erudite and misunderstood, sardonic and randy bad boy writer who is really down deep in his private heart a good guy romantic with a passionate adoration of women and the art of making love to women, of words and the art of writing, of books and the art of reading books, real books.

As a writer he is cheeky and bawdy, ribald, irreverent. He has a proclivity for sex and to transmogrify sexual fantasy into naughty sex. Yet sex in the narrative of Guy Abelman is rendered comic rather than carnal, tender rather than raunchy.

Two seductively beautiful women are twinned in the amorous heart, the erotic mind, the Anacreontic soul of Guy Abelman: his fiery redheaded wife, Vanessa and her enticing, utterly bewitching, look-alike mother, Poppy. He loves them both, desires them both, hungers for them both to the point of distraction. And herein lie both the crux and the plot...

"The odd part was that there was any desire left in me to write a sentence, never mind a book. Yet there was. An intense desire - akin to lust or hunger - which all the militant women's books groups in Chipping Norton couldn't expunge...
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Format: Kindle Edition
When we meet author Guy Ableman he has been battered by a reading group - indeed he is feeling generally put upon and discouraged by the state of publishing and, in reality, this is a brave novel about a subject that readers and writers seem to discuss endlessly. The arrival of the ebook, what sells (there is a scene where Guy feels he should write a novel with either Tudors or vampires in it which is funny only because it is true), YA fiction, the despair of the publishing industry, reviews on Amazon and agents avoiding authors in case they are offered a book they have to place are all covered, within the general story of Guy and his marriage to Vanessa.

Vanessa is a gorgeous, vibrant and talented woman who has an equally beautiful mother, Poppy Eisenhower. When they walk into the boutique that Guy runs, they seem to come as a pair - both with flaming red hair and almost like sisters. In the age of the Great Decline, when "the age of sparing a writers feelings was past", Guy has problems with his publisher, his agent, his parents, his brother and his wife. So he decides to write a novel about his desire for his mother in law, despite advice to the contrary. This leads to a re-telling of his relationship with daughter and mother-in-law, encompassing various book events and Vanessa's own desire to be an author.

This novel is a satire and so much of what Howard Jacobson writes about readers and the world of writers, is tongue in cheek. That is not to say that he does not deride things people hold as sacred, but much of the most biting comments are aimed at himself and it is authors he savages most ('me, me, me').
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