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Damascus Gate Paperback – September 6, 2011
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"But while the religious quests of Stone's characters help drive his story, the novel is ultimately concerned less with metaphysics and cosmic order than with the earthly realm of politics and the human craving for certainty. The characters in Damascus Gate may be "God- struck," they may dream insistently of a better world, but like so many Stone characters, they end up captives of history and their own very human illusions." — The New York Times
"Heavy as a marble tablet, it delivers revelations about character and culture in the way that only a dense, textured novel can.... Precise and passionate, Damascus Gate is a stunning achievement." — Philadelphia Inquirer
"Damascus Gate asks enormous questions about cosmic truth—and its effect on those who think they own it—with intensity, intellectual rigor and abiding morality." — San Francisco Chronicle
"The writing, often dense with metaphor and landscape, is powerful, and the result is a pulsing, profound novel...." — Entertainment Weekly
Top Customer Reviews
Nevertheless, the writing is brilliant. This is a book for people who love reading; not for people who simply want a good story with familiar characters and a predictable conclusion. Stone spends a lot of time in this book really setting the stage before the plot is even unwound. To readers who are impatient to 'get on with the story', this approach is going to be frustrating. But to readers who appreciate what Stone does with language and can revel in the images created, this part of the book is a pleasure in itself.
I would not recommend this book to everyone. It does require more effort and concentration than a typical thriller (just as Le Carre does) and the pleasures derived from the character and plot presuppose a reader more in tune with Graham Greene than with Grisham. The author wants us to think long and hard about what we are reading and he has done an admirable job of creating a scenario where all the forces that have made the middle east a consistently unstable place are shown coming together in the crisis situation the plot leads to. I found this book very satisfying.
Another recent author who has written about Israel, Herman Wouk, has his narrator in Inside, Outside (Avon, 1987) make the following point: "That is an absolute literary gold mine, alienation." This, I believe, goes a long way towards explaining the reception of DG among its enthusiastic middle- and high-brow critics. DG is really the definitive book, not of Israel but of alienation.
The main protagonist is a detached Catholic/Jewish writer, the product of an illegitimate union, who fervently wants a faith he cannot himself embrace. Lucas, alternately admitting and denying his identity, suffers from physical alienation as well: he is largely impotent (although cured by a good woman, thank you for asking). Stone also invests him with a fashionable drinking habit and a mysterious source of income.
How can any reviewer with intellectual pretensions not fall in love with Lucas? He is a tortured soul enjoying a pleasant bohemian lifestyle in interesting surroundings. This was my college fantasy as well. Stone sets the mood for this wonderfully: the pages are littered with erudite expressions in Latin, Hebrew and Arabic; there are references to Noam Chomsky, Fats Waller, the Zohar, Miles Davis, Sufism and "the Jew-despising [T.S.] Eliot" (p. 136).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
OK, granted that Jerusalem is a city with more layers than a truckload of onions, but what's wrong with this novel is the moral equivalency on every page. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Roni Batzion
I read this year's ago and totally forgot it. I decided to give it a second chance. I am about half way through it, and I 'm beginning to see why I forgot it. Read morePublished 15 months ago by T. Logan
"Dog Soldiers" is one of the best reads of the 70s. I remember reading it in the late 70s and thinking that no novel had ever had such a visceral impact. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Cotton Mather
The book starts off slow,however within a few chapters you are swept into the inner walls of the old city and areas beyond- loved the historical , I felt as if I were walking down... Read morePublished 16 months ago by silvia faris
dense and chewy but worthwhile. it helps understand the intricacies of life in Jerusalem and Israel in general, within the context of a compelling fictional narrative.Published 17 months ago by richard w s
I tried, I really tried to like this book. Usually I give a book one chapter to hook me, then it's yea or nay. I stayed with this for 278 pages. Read morePublished 22 months ago by woodworker
Don't know why professional reviewers so favorably liked it. Quite a tedious read. Wish I had my money back. Goofy is how I'd describe it.Published on March 12, 2014 by James Stewart