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The Dinner Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 12, 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
First, the plot: The story is of two brothers - one an unemployed former high school teacher who suffers from a vague illness that causes him to be sometimes unable to control his violent impulses, the other a boorish but popular politician who might be on his way to becoming the Prime Minister - who have teenage sons who have gotten into some Clockwork Orange-like nastiness. The boys have not yet been caught by the authorities in their criminal deeds, but their parents know what they have been up to, and the two brothers and their respective wives are meeting at a restaurant to discuss the dilemma over dinner.
Now, the positives: the bad deeds the boys engage in are as random and senseless as they are brutal and severe. And the boys themselves are not the kind of kids you'd expect to engage in such activities. I found all of that completely believable and compelling, and it hit me on a personal level because I was once a teenage boy who was basically a "good kid" but who sometimes gave way to impulses a boy of that age can have, and got into some vandalism-involved nastiness that I'm still sorry for to this day. The bad things the boys do are both horrifying and believable and that makes the story gripping. Something else I liked about the book, and that also touches me personally, is the explorations of various aspects of parenting. Through the story, you get glimpses of the complexities involved in a parent's relationship to their child as it is affected by the relationship the kid has with one's spouse, its other parent, and how the relationships between the three are so intertwined. This is handled most effectively in the book.Read more ›
The book starts off with Paul giving us his view of the world. Paul feels above the fray as he pokes fun at anyone who might put on 'airs', starting with his politician brother. The author really sucked me into Paul's world, and with great skill convinced me that Paul was the put-upon one in the story. I won't give anything away, because this book is a fascinating study of a human being who's deeply troubled, yet sounds perfectly rational as he takes us through his life, giving us his view of what's going on.
The story meanders through Paul's mind, which is key to who Paul is. Like a kid on too much sugar, Paul flits from one subject to another, teasing us with bits and pieces of what happened between the boys. We are privy to how a mind works that is totally different from a normal, morally mature mind. I gasped in horror at times at how normal the author made his main character seem. By the time the story ended I felt as if I'd spent time in a psych-ward for the criminally insane. Horrified because the author made it all sound so sensible.
It's good that a skilled author can capture the thoughts and motivations of someone who doesn't fit into civilized society so we can see just how to deal with such people. Do they poison others around them, or do they attract those who are just like them?Read more ›
The suspense depends on the deliberate withholding of information (a common enough contrivance in this genre), with each chapter carefully delivering a small new dose of revelation. But the game quickly became too mechanical for me, and I found myself skimming impatiently -- so apologies if I missed something.
Here are a few things that ultimately bothered me. (SPOILER ALERT!! SPOILER ALERT!!)
This criticism, I notice, has been voiced already, but it's pretty fundamental: The narrator's brother is supposed to be a famous Dutch politician who's just about to run for -- what is it, president, premier, prime minister... whatever. He's a national celebrity. (In fact, during the dinner a man and his daughter come up to him, complete strangers, and ask to take a photo.) And the purpose of the dinner, we learn, is so that the politician and his wife, and the narrator and HIS wife, can come clean with one another and discuss what to do about the fact that their respective teenage sons are homicidal psychopaths currently wanted for a murder that has shocked all Europe.
Now, you'd think the last place the politician would want this crucial (and shady) meeting to be held would be at a crowded high-priced high-end restaurant with every other patron eyeing the foursome, waiters in attendance, etc. What an unlikely choice! And then, peculiarly, the subject of the sons and their crime doesn't even come up till late in the dinner; before that it's basically small talk.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
touted as "this year's gone girl" but super hard to follow and just not compelling.Published 7 days ago by janine repka
Was not a fan. Heard good things, but was bored all the way to the last page.Published 9 days ago by Robert Azzara
I had a love/hate relationship with the book. I loved the story (hard to put the book down!), but so disliked the people. But that's what the book is about. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Beverly Wichman
I received this book to read and review through a postal book club on Goodreads.
This book left me a bit confused as to the author's intentions. Read more
I rarely say this, but do not waste your time reading this book. One of the goals of good writing is to create characters the reader can relate to and care about or at least... Read morePublished 15 days ago by Cindy Zirwes