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The Apartment by [Baxter, Greg]
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The Apartment Kindle Edition

3.2 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, December 2013: At times meandering, but also but weirdly captivating, this debut novel follows an unnamed man shambling through the snowy streets of an unnamed Eastern European city (Prague?)--an ancient place where “intense joy and intense sorrow are extinct”--on a freezing-cold day as he and his not-quite-girlfriend search for an apartment. That’s basically it. And while it never quite launches, the defiantly moody and sullen tone has admirable charms. I felt I should’ve been wearing a scarf while reading. And smoking. And drinking. Eventually we learn bits of backstory: the man is an Iraq war vet who later returned to Baghdad and made a fortune. His apparent guilt, and the unspoken horrors he seems to have witnessed (or perpetrated?) give the book its emotional heft. Quirky, poetic, and flaunting some truly stunning moments, this is a book to give into, and a writer to watch. --Neal Thompson

Review

''Clever, entertaining, brave; it stretches the rules while following a man through one day of his life. I loved it.'' --Roddy Doyle, Man Booker Prize-winning author

''Exceptional -- a book rich in ideas and poetry.'' --Hisham Matar, Man Booker Prize finalist

''Baxter's superbly elegant, understated writing explores the dynamics of America's relationship with the rest of the world.'' --Times (London)

''Imagine you're on a roller-coaster . . . suddenly, without warning, it tips vertiginously, so quickly that your chest constricts, and while you're there, suspended momentarily, at the apex of this roller-coaster, you're aware suddenly of a kind of clarity, a totally new perspective on everything below. Greg Baxter's The Apartment is a bit like this . . . Full of unshowy wisdom and surprising moments of beauty.'' --Sunday Telegraph (London)

''Admirable for its scope, ambition, and unashamed seriousness of purpose, as well as its willingness to take stylistic and structural risks.'' --Observer (London)

''Stunningly good.'' --Saturday Review, BBC Radio 4

''Baxter's superbly elegant, understated writing explores the dynamics of America's relationship with the rest of the world.'' --Times (London)

''Imagine you're on a roller-coaster . . . suddenly, without warning, it tips vertiginously, so quickly that your chest constricts, and while you're there, suspended momentarily, at the apex of this roller-coaster, you're aware suddenly of a kind of clarity, a totally new perspective on everything below. Greg Baxter's The Apartment is a bit like this . . . Full of unshowy wisdom and surprising moments of beauty.'' --Sunday Telegraph (London)

''Admirable for its scope, ambition, and unashamed seriousness of purpose, as well as its willingness to take stylistic and structural risks.'' --Observer (London)

''Stunningly good.'' --Saturday Review, BBC Radio 4

Product Details

  • File Size: 800 KB
  • Print Length: 248 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1844882861
  • Publisher: Penguin (April 5, 2012)
  • Publication Date: April 5, 2012
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844882861
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844882861
  • ASIN: B00796LJK8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,250,613 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Amelia Gremelspacher TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While this book is literate and subtle, I kept thinking I should enjoy it more. The language is subtle and heavily symbolic. I think perhaps it is the very craft of writing that kept me removed from this character desperate for a new start in a secure place. The narrator has come from America to an unnamed European city after serving in Iraq. He engages tricks of perception to try to suppress memories as they emerge unwanted.

While the book remains vague in many senses in order to portray a universal search, at times this very vagueness can put the reader off. His determination to learn the city, its people and its language can be deeply depressing at points. This atmosphere is in fact an achievement of the author, but it makes me feel uneasy. I am aware that the book takes me to a designated sense, and I respect this. I am just not always willing to come for the ride. Nonetheless, this is a novel of note and one that deserves to be read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

Greg Baxter's debut novel, The Apartment, is a terrifically written, somewhat meandering book that both is and is not about what you think it is.

In an unnamed European city (although some reviewers have guessed this is Prague, Baxter said the novel's setting is an amalgamation of several different cities), an unnamed American narrator is planning to meet his friend, Saskia, to find him an apartment, as he had been living austerely in a formerly elegant hotel since he arrived. The narrator is in his early 40s, a former Navy sailor who had served on a submarine in Iraq and then returned to that country as a defense contractor. But he doesn't like to talk about the past, because of the things he did while he was in Iraq.

"I could fill the silence by talking about the past, but I try not to think about the past. For much of my life, I existed in a condition of regret that was contemporaneous with experience, and which sometimes preceded experience. Whenever I think of my past now I see a great black wave that has risen a thousand stories high and is suspended above above me, as though I am a city by the sea, and I hold the wave in suspension through a perspective that is as constrained as a streak of clear glass in a fogged-up window."

The novel takes place over a one-day period, although the narrator finds himself reminiscing on a number of encounters he has had with people throughout his life, both after arriving in this city and in his life before coming to the city. It is around Christmastime, and winter has the city in its thrall. Snow falls throughout the day.

The narrator and Saskia travel throughout the city, on foot as well as by train, bus, streetcar, and taxi.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful book about trying to escape oneself and not succeeding. You can read it at one sitting. When you've finished with it, it will not be finished with you.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great book, reminds me of some the the best of Greene or Fitzgerald, while being quite distinctive and of the 21st century. Haven't read a book I've enjoyed so much in ages.
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First novel written in the voice of a US soldier who avoids the US and all things US by moving to an unnamed, northern European, midwinter city. He has no contacts, doesn't know the language or the topography, and is without purpose other than finding (or losing) himself..
The commentary on US imperialism, how the world views the US and post war reintegration is eloquent Long, philosophical digressions are more than tolerable given the context. Attempts at intimacy.are telling. I kept being reminded of Bill Murray in Tokyo.
One of the best first attempts ever! Looking for more! A+
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was never a big stream of consciousness fan, but this was very very good. An ex Navy Iraq war vet moves to a Balkan city to be anonymous and seal his history out of his life. this book encompasses a single day spent searching for an apartment so he can move out of the hotel. There are no chapters and no quotation marks to delineate speaking-it just flows. Reading his progress, reactions, insights and reminiscences in the first person puts you so inside his head that it feels like journalism. And what makes it so well done is that if you met this character in real life he would be deliberately inscrutable. If you've spent time in Prague or Budapest, even Vienna, you'll identify with this intelligent, affable but guarded American's take on the local people.
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Format: Hardcover
This slim novel takes place over the course of a very cold, snowy day in what vaguely feels like an old, Eastern European city. Our narrator is in search of an apartment in this city and he spends the day with Saskia, a young woman who is helping him find a place, as he doesn’t know the language or the layout.

Like many novels of this type, the “present day” action is minimal. Saskia comes to the hotel to pick-up the narrator. They travel the wintery streets, meeting a few of Saskia’s friends and having a few slight encounters. They look at an apartment which the narrator quickly takes. He moves in with his handful of possessions. They go meet a group of Saskia’s friends at a local hangout and stay until the wee hours, when they then leave, pointing their way towards breakfast and home. The end.

The interest of this story comes almost entirely from our position inside the mind of our narrator and what we learn of him as the story progresses. We get glimpses into his past—his roots in a small American desert town, his military service, his return to Iraq as an independent contractor, his brief turn as a wealthy American at home, his memories of a high school friend who died, his first months in his new city. We also get his impressions of Saskia, her friends, and his new surroundings.

Our impressions end up being somewhat unclear, the picture clouded much like the blowing snow softens the edges of the city through which these characters travel. And yet, it feels true, since our narrator is clearly adrift and has not come to terms with his life.
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