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All the Sad Young Literary Men Paperback – March 31, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
ALL THE SAD YOUNG LITERARY MEN is a novel about decadence that doesn't seem to know it is a novel about decadence. Ostensibly, it is about three different young Ivy League graduates livining in and around New York, but all three feature the same narrative voice, minimal character development, and barely differentiated story lines. The main literary conceit of the novel is a sort of historical name dropping, ala "But one thing he had learned from the Bolsheviks: history helps those who help themselves." These historical references seem to be thrown in at random; they are never explained, examined, or elaborated upon, and are essentially meaningless. It's sort of like reading movie reviews in The Village Voice, except with historical references pasted in mindlessly instead of pop and alt culture ones. Yeah, being in your 20s is like the Russian revolution, or like the Israelis and Palestinians... nevermind why, nevermind any kind of thought or rational examination of these complicated historical events, nevermind any explanation of the alluded to but never demonstrated "idea"... Mindless stuff.
How bad can it be? Try this sentence opening a paragraph about a main character's reaction to 9/11 [remember these characters live in and around New York City!]: "On the day the World Trade Center was destroyed, Sam watched a lot of television."
There is one good section of the book, pp. 62-75, about a character named Morris Binkel.Read more ›
A doctoral student in Russian history, the recently divorced Mark turns to online dating and Internet porn. He is distress over his Google rating: the number of hits on his blog are declining.
Sam's ambition is to write the Great Zionist Ep;ic, even though he isn't a practicing Jew, can't read Hebrew, and his project is conceived before he visits Israel and the occupied territories.
Keth, a Russian immigrant, is a liberal politico-cultural critic who apparently stands in as Gessen's alter ego. His comments on America's ill-advised military adventurism is cynical and acerbic.
Blundering their way through life, these three protagonists inflict insult and injury--psychic pain--on themselves and on the women with whom they have love-hate relationships.
Believing themselves to be responsible adults, the three anti-heroes behave as spoiled juveniles who need to grow up, slouching their way toward a lonely middle age.
The book is essentially about three individually disconnected young adults with aspirations to literary greatness. Mark already possesses a post graduate degree and is nearing a doctorate in Russian History, penning his thesis on Russian revolutionary Roman Sidorovich. But with the subsequent dissolution of his young marriage, he spirals into the vast world of internet porn and hook-ups while becoming morbidly concerned about his blog and the number of declining hits. Sam gets an advance for a far reaching Jewish/Zionist novel in which he turns out to be utterly incompetent to write, having never even visited Israel. Keith is from Russia and is an employed critic of America’s military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
All are portrayed as monumentally cynical, pretentious and hyper-educated, so much so that this sensibility affects each of their personal lives in sad and almost predictable ways.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is basically a decent read. Gessen has an enjoyable writing style, but the characters in the book are somewhat flat and share too many commonalities. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Lisa Carter
From the title I assumed that the novel was about the struggles of young aspiring writers/authors, but that theme was story c; so, if you're considering buying the book to read... Read morePublished on February 11, 2012 by The Writer Mo Ibrahim
Sorry but this isn't a book; or, rather, it shouldn't be. It's more of an adolescent's dream, a composite of juvenile reactionaryism (ok, not a word) that didn't deserve to see the... Read morePublished on January 10, 2012 by canonizer
I too wanted to like this book; but I couldn't find a way to like this book. I think it has to do with not being able to empathize with the characters. I wonder if this is true.Published on December 28, 2011 by Steve McEnpants
'All the Sad Young Literary Men' is not a bad read. Author Keith Gessen is often humorous in a dry way rather than absurdly over-the-top, which I appreciate, and I also think he... Read morePublished on December 12, 2011 by Bryan Byrd
Meet Sam, Mark and Keith. They're three semi-eligible, attractive-enough college graduates who study Soviet history, the Arab-Israeli conflict and American politics. Read morePublished on June 9, 2010 by Bookreporter
You'll have to be a little patient to get the goods here, but it's mostly worth it. The author's first novel and hence, likely to be his most autobiographical one, presents his... Read morePublished on December 19, 2009 by hh
When I opened this book, I was astounded by the first chapter and its lucidity. They are in New York, a young couple fresh out of college, and they are trying to survive on nothing... Read morePublished on March 15, 2009 by totally dude
I can understand why Keith Gessen's peculiar novel, "All the Sad Young Literary Men," has drawn such divergent reviews, ranging from Jonathan Yardley naming it as one of the best... Read morePublished on December 27, 2008 by Kevin Joseph