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The Great Longing: Novel, A Paperback – May 16, 1996

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Dutch novelist Moring's first novel to appear stateside, a lyrical, mildly existential tale of memory lost and refound, is set in an urban desert of stylized alienation. Sam van Djik, 30, has lost possession of his past and, accompanied by his twin sister and an eccentric older brother, sets out to find and regroup the scattered pieces. The origin of Sam's amnesia is the car accident that killed his parents in his early youth; as his slightly deranged and hypersensitive mind moves restlessly backward through time, it alights again and again upon images of his childhood, in particular those of his dead father and mother. Sam's trauma leads him into inconsequentiality in adulthood as he drifts aimlessly into the lackluster profession of archivist, living in an abandoned warehouse and trawling through a hip but curiously innocuous underworld. Moring's writing can be supple and momentarily intriguing, but it lacks the intensity or originality to give the meandering, whimsical plot depth-or even surface excitement. Sam seems too casual and even-tempered to have been truly traumatized, and so his memory loss seems more like a literary device than a gripping pathology. The narrative's cute urban-wasteland setting comes off as overdesigned, as well. If he fails to forge a novel of dynamic unpredictability, however, Moring does show that he is capable of more interesting work down the line.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In this imaginative novel, Sam van Dijk has lived his life in an amnesiac fog (whether real or self-imposed is unclear). After Sam's parents were killed in a car accident when he was a child, he moved through a series of foster homes. His surroundings became a blur, and the people remained slightly out of focus. As a young adult, Sam is reunited with his brother and twin sister. His brother seems determined to forget the past, but his sister, in stark contrast to Sam, is determined to chronicle it. Sam finds work as an archivist, carefully and tediously piecing together company histories from documents and memorabilia, all the while unable to reconstruct his own history from fragments of memory and snatches of conversations. Part mystery, part existential tract, this novel won the equivalent of the Booker Prize in Moring's native Holland, where the book was a best seller. For serious literature collections.?Peggie Partello, Keene State Coll., N.H.
Copyright 1995 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: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (May 16, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060927399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060927394
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,504,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on April 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
Our book discussion group read this book and all of us were in agreement that this author is brilliant. The story is evocative and haunting. The decayed inner life of the protagonist is reflected against the backdrop of a decayed inner city. There is love and there is hope but the author makes us beat it out of this story. It cries out for discussion. It is crafted to perfection.
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Format: Paperback
The Great longing is a great book, it is clearly another one of Marcel Moring's fantastic works of literature, he is one of the greatest contemporary dutch writers, although not always recognized as such (yet).
This book, although not as powerful and haunting as his third book, In Babylon, is without a doubt worth reading. It is the story fo two brothers and a sister, who lost their parents when they were young. As the story unveils itself, we learn more and more about what happened when they were young, meanwhile understanding the characters, what they do and what drives them better.
Sometimes however, the book seems somewhat obvious, we see this for instance in the professions of the three main figures. Raoh, the photographers, seems to have certain photographic images in his mind of what happened the day their parents were killed in a car crash. His twin sister Lisa however, is an artist, who only remembers certain things, but paints a picture for Sam, the child who can't remember anything about what happened, even though he was old enough to understand. Sam, who archives files for a living, seems to archive the memories he gets from his brother and sister, although slowly the memories start unfolding themselves.
The book is however brilliantly written, and Marcel Moring really shows his talent for writing and storytelling in all three of his book (the other two, particularly In Babylon, I certainly reccomend to you). If you would like to read something, new refreshing, different, try reading this dutch author. And if you liked this, maybe you should try Thomas Mann (The Magic Mountain), Gabriel Garcia Marquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude), or Hermann Hesse (Demian), a personal favorite of mine with similar talent for storytelling and at the same time leaving you with many thoughts and questions after finishing the book.
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