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The Apprentice: A Novel Paperback – December 13, 2005

2.7 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Setsuo is a young apprentice at a remote mountain inn in turn-of-the-century Japan, who falls in love at first sight of the beautiful Yukiko, one of a roving band of actors who have come to stay. Trapped at the inn by a blizzard is a larger group of strange travelers. Emotionally wrought by his feelings for Yukiko, Setsuo cannot see that he is getting involved in political skulduggery as he tries to fathom the increasingly odd behavior of the guests. The finding of a corpse and a mysterious small box keep the reader guessing too. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Although set in Japan in 1903, Libby's first novel avoids the exoticism and antiquarianism of James Clavell and sets its own tightly dreamlike tone. Setsuo, apprentice innkeeper at an isolated mountain hostel in Northern Japan, finds himself marooned with a dubious cast of travelers during a blizzard. His youthful naivete unfortunately draws him not only to a mysterious young woman with a band of itinerant performers but also to a half-frozen and half-crazed visitor. When this stranger flees back into the storm, Setsuo and another guest separately pursue him, leading to robbery and murder. With rumors of political intrigue enveloping the action and the apprentice in possession of a Macguffin as enigmatic as a haiku image, Libby maintains a sense of mystery and claustrophobia through pared-down prose and minimalist characterization. Setsuo's love interest, for instance, is simply the "girl in the cloak of yellow fur" for much of the novel. Even after he learns her name is Yukiko, her actions, history and motives remain ambiguous to the end. Spare and muted, Libby's debut has distilled his diplomatic experiences in Japan with the U.S. State and Defense Departments into a subtle, if sometimes attenuated, story of innocence and temptation halfway across the world and a century ago.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 239 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (February 4, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312284535
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312284534
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,741,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Well, it had potential. (And great cover art.) But, all in all,I'm really sorry I read this book. The writing was very elegant insome places and full of eloquence and all, but at times it just seemedawkward and too blunt. It made me uncomfortable. Heck, the whole bookmade me uncomfortable. I mean, it started out great with all thesepeople stranded at a snow-bound inn and the innkeeper away with onlyhis apprentice in charge. And then there was that great chase throughthe snow and the murder and all... But after that... ugh. Sometimes itwas just painful, physically painful, to read. It all started with theextremely bizarre sexual situations. I still shudder to think aboutsome of the stuff described in that book... And as if that wasn't badenough, the author strings you along, drowning you in suspense,throughout the entire book, making you wonder who killed the man thefirst night and why, and then the end doesn't even explain it! Don'tget me wrong, the ending tries to explain it, real hard, but itdoesn't make sense. You find yourself sitting there, scratching yourhead, and going, "Wha?" I don't think the author even gave areason for some of the stuff. And his explanation of what happened tothe girl? It was weak. The only way I knew what was going on wasbecause I came here and read some of the reviews! None of it madesense. I still have unanswered questions about this book. The lovescenes are another thing. They were ok, I guess, better than some ofthe other scenes, but they were always so awkward anduncomfortable. One particular scene between the Apprentice and thegirl was especially unpleasant. (That's sad, too, because I think theauthor was shooting for passionate there...) I feel sorry for anyonewho paid full price for this book. It has a great plot with some greatcharacters.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I couldn't even get through this whole book, it was just... so... bad...

Really it was just Lewis Libby writing his own masturbation material, no joke. I stopped reading when he talked, among other things, about bears having sex with ten year old girls.

Beyond being constantly creepy, it's just really poorly written and completely pointless. Don't waste your time, money, etc.
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Format: Paperback
Perhaps I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby thought that by setting his novel in a snowbound inn in northern Honshu, a century ago, his readers would swear that the lavish dollops of voyeurism, bestiality, paedophilia, and corpse-robbery advance the plot. Well, there is no plot. There's a blizzard blanketing a Japanese country inn, a young man called only "the apprentice" who's helping run the joint in the absence of the proprietor, and an overflow of stranded travelers bunking down in tight quarters. The natural hot spring located within the inn means that the nubile and pre-nubile girls can shuck their matted furs so that The Apprentice has something more interesting to look at than fat middle-aged ladies and itinerant "lacquer tappers" with brownish teeth. Libby's writing would be pleasingly spare if it said anything, but the descriptions of the inn, the snow, the dead bodies, and so forth provide meager padding between the sex scenes.

The hair-raisingly prurient parts of this book have been excerpted extensively elsewhere, so I'll not repeat them. However, Libby appears more than approving of the explicit education that the very young girls in "The Apprentice" receive. Not in typical school subjects, no, but from instructors whose teaching tools include caged bears (yes, bears, trained to couple with children), wooden dildos, and incestuous relatives who painstakingly instruct little girls to "satisfy many men in a night."

The fictional output of such Republican luminaries as Bill O'Reilly, Newt Gingrich, and I. Lewis Libby underscore the truth of the proverb, "Those who really have it ["it" meaning sexual prowess] don't talk about it." Some men, such as Libby and Neil Bush, have labored under the delusion that any sexual peccadilloes taking place in Asia will stay in Asia.
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Format: Paperback
The chief of staff decided to write a book. He wanted to make it mysterious. He decided a good way to do that would be to have lots of characters but only give names to very few of them. He thought that if the reader knew very little about any of them, and had no understanding of their motives, that it would add to the mystery. He felt the best way to tell his story would be in stilted, wooden sentences. And to top it all off, to really set a mysterious mood, he threw in snow. Lots and lots and lots of snow.

My copy is 239 pages long. By page 200 I had finally reached a point where I was somewhat interested in what would happen to the main characters. At page 225 the reader starts getting some information that manages to make a little sense of the amorphous mess that precedes it. But the final conclusion between the two main characters is still very ambiguous.

If Scooter is very fortunate, when President Bush pardons him for the crimes for which he has been indicted, he will also pardon him for his crimes against literature. If we are very fortunate, Scooter will then be hired by a lobbying firm and he will be too busy to write any more novels.
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