Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Remembering has its own pleasure, like spreading wings. The mind unfurls and proclaims its own sensuality.", March 23, 2011
This review is from: Solo (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Usually when I read a novel widely described as "controversial," I find myself seeing both sides of the controversy and writing about both sides when I write a review. With this prize-winning novel, however, I was so exhilarated at the author's bold originality, his ability to juggle his characters' vibrant and creative inner lives while also examining the depressing circumstances under which they live, the sweeping historical scope which includes the entire twentieth century, and his total control of language with all its potential to amaze with its images and ideas, that I must celebrate it as one of the most innovative and enjoyable books I have read in a long time.

Daringly experimental, the book has two parts, which represent the two parts of our lives, the world of reality and the world of the imagination and memory. The imaginative second part evolves from the events of the first part, with clear parallels. Set in Bulgaria, the novel features Ulrich, a main character who is almost a hundred years old and who has lived through the major political changes of the twentieth century. Blind, impoverished, and alone, he now lives in his memories and fantasies as his past unfolds, and the reader comes to know the pivotal events in his life and that of his country. A lover of music who had hoped to study violin, Ulrich is forced to switch to chemistry after his father angrily destroys his instrument, going to Berlin to study science until he runs out of money. He returns home to political unrest, and watches as student friends are arrested, the fascists take over, and the communists overthrow them ten years later. Ulrich's life revolves around his job in a steel works which pollutes the air, rivers, and land around it, and his days of music are over.

More philosophical and historical than it is psychological, emotional, or exciting in the first part, the novel changes at the halfway point when Ulrich's memories and wild fantasies become the story line. Here a young man named Boris, the same name as Ulrich's best friend in the first part, becomes the main character, a pig farmer who teaches himself to play the violin, learns from the gypsies, and enjoys his music. Succeeding chapters introduce other characters, such as Khatuna, a beautiful and very ambitious woman, and her sensitive poet brother, Irakli, who bring the country's history and the collapse of communism up to date. The two artists, Boris and Irakli, are the vehicles through which the author eventually comments on the art world, its commercialization, and its human parasites. Even the seemingly idyllic world of music and poetry has its down side.

When Boris, "the son of [Ulrich's] daydreams," faces the death of a friend, Ulrich enters the story himself to offer advice. In a passage of extraordinary beauty and sensitivity, one of the high points of the novel for me, Ulrich says, "[Your friend] will find his way inside you, and you'll carry him onward. Behind your heartbeat, you'll hear another one, faint and out of step...You won't wait until people die to grieve for them; you'll give them their grief while they are still alive, for then judgment falls away, and there remains only the miracle of being." A fine definition of love from a thoughtful and gifted author, not yet forty, in a book that I found astonishing in its depth. Mary Whipple
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

4.0 out of 5 stars (30 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (9)
4 star:
 (12)
3 star:
 (8)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
$25.00 $19.71
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Reviewer

Mary Whipple
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (COMMUNITY FORUM 04)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   

Location: New England

Top Reviewer Ranking: 131