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Comment: Worn edges and covers and may have small creases. Otherwise item is in good condition. NO Dust Jacket included with this copy.
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The Instructions Hardcover – November 1, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Only four days pass between the opening scene of boys waterboarding one another to the moment when 10-year-old Gurion Maccabee and his army attempt to take down their unfair school system, but in the dense, frenzied pages of Levin's outsized debut, those few days feel like forever. Gurion, who narrates and refers to the text as "a work of scripture," sees himself as the hero of a yet-to-be-recognized Jewish holiday that celebrates the birth of "perfect justice," and recruits an army of misfits and Torah scholars. But nothing happens quickly, and Levin is as content to tend to the screwy plot as he is to allow Gurion to go on extended digressions about Philip Roth and any number of other topics. Between the hubris it takes to expect readers to digest more than 1,000 pages about a tween who says "the likelihood that I was seemed to me to be increasing by the second" and the shoving in of e-mails, diagrams, and transcripts of television footage, the idea that this could be a great novel is overshadowed by the fact that this is a great big novel, shaggy and undisciplined, but with moments of brilliance.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Levin’s enormous first novel is narrated by a hyper, megalomaniac prodigy, a 10-year-old boy named Gurion ben-Judah Maccabee who has skipped grades and been expelled for violent behavior from three Chicago schools. He is now in the CAGE program for problem students at Aptakisic Junior High, and even more determined to incite rebellion, if not an all-out holy war. Gurion is tough, wily, ferociously fluent in Jewish theology, an avid fan of Philip Roth and Jewish humor, verbally pyrotechnic, and bizarrely charismatic. His father is a civil rights lawyer who gets trampled by enraged Jews for defending a neo-Nazi; his mother is a former Israeli soldier, a mental health professional, and black. Spurred to assemble his children’s army by anti-Semitic hate crimes and the ongoing bloodshed in the Middle East, Gurion does not deny that he could be a potential messiah. Levin’s mammoth, riotous, Talmudic, impossibly excessive yet brilliant, mesmerizing, warmhearted, and hilarious work of chutzpah takes place over four feverish days but encompasses the whole of Israel’s battle for existence and the Jewish quest for home and peace. --Donna Seaman

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1030 pages
  • Publisher: McSweeney's; First Edition edition (November 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934781827
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934781821
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #515,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Tanstaafl VINE VOICE on October 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book will have special meaning for those of us of the Jewish faith. I wasn't Jewish, though, until I got about a hundred pages in. Regardless of faith, this is a book about faith - just in an entirely different manner than anyone is accustomed to. Parts are hilariously, read out loud funny. Parts are brutally violent. Other parts will be described by the entire range of emotions.

Please read Amazon's Product Description (click on Editorial Reviews above). Read it very carefully. Nothing more needs to be said about the plot. You will be spending many hours within that briefly but deceptively described universe.

Two words of advice: Hang on! While this has some debut novel glitches, you'll quickly forgive Levin. This is an amazingly imagined story. How can it not be when the main character is the messiah, or potential messiah, or neither? At ten, even potential is impressive. And our hero, Gurion, at that mere ten, is already a leader of men (or boys who will be men).

Of course, this will be compared with David Foster Wallace's 'Infinite Jest'; and rightly so. And, I loved 'Infinite Jest'. But, this is not 'Infinite Jest'. Though much of this rambles, it is the poster-child of organization compared to the other. With about nine-hundred fewer footnotes, and the few that are here are on the same page as the text, the reader is spared the constant interruptions.

Levin's juxtaposition of the scholarly boys and the delinquent students of the Cage allows divergent threads, and moralities, to run throughout the book. I found myself liking and disliking the same characters several times each. Gurion's parents will do more than just raise some eyebrows. His girlfriend, too, is a gem.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The physical weight of this novel is intimidating (if you purchased the paperback, like I did) but let that be encouragement and not a deterrent to begin reading The Instructions. The psychological weight with which I was left after finishing this book was even heavier than the mere 1000 pages.

The main character is a ten-year-old boy named Gurion who narrates the story and his personality was immediately captivating. The attentive maintenance of this character through the book is what kept me up late nights reading. I was able to love him immediately, through his happiness and sadness; through his growth and stagnation--and all over the amazing short period of four days (timespan of the novel). It is a microscope of human emotion, yet--especially toward the end and looking out over "two-hill field"--the author represents a larger scope of human existence.

Another thing that the author did to make the book great was use the epitome of the writer's dogma "show versus tell" countless times throughout the novel. Page 825, for example (although this may be personal) discusses the phrase "point of no return" but that is exactly what that point represented for me in the book--the point where I simply needed to keep reading in order to find out what was going to happen next, the point of no return where I must read to the end of the book.

Or take this quote, for another example (page 29-30), that shows so much about the character with little details:
"I liked it when things went together like that. Not just timing things like the chop /flick/ knock-stopping, but space things, too. Like all the man-made products that fit into other man-made products that were not made by the same men or for the same reasons.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
'Holy F-word.' (i'm afraid of getting censured) but that was what I said seconds after I put this book down 'Holy F-word'...and I am smart enough to avoid vulgarity, but this book blew my mind...

I've been reading seriously since I was about 16, so I've been doing this for about 20 years, and I know how serious it is to say 'This is the greatest book I've ever read' but I am doing just that.

I was hooked from the first paragraph, and this man...he writes scripture...this thing is truly profound, not just 'about' the profound, it is profound.

i will tell you something too...there is a reason this is the greatest book I've ever read, because the author had the audacity, the balls, to try and write the greatest book ever written...not a lot of people actually do that, and of those that do, I only know one that has succeeded, Adam Levin.

wow, you might be saying, this sounds like a friend of the author, or perhaps his wife...nope...but if he ever wants another friend, he made one with me...how many people do i know who have the guts to do what he did with this novel. when you write scripture, expect followers...wow!

i'm going to go on, because that is what i am inspired to do, i am inspired to sing praises, and so i am going to sing...

as an aside, the comparisons to D.F.W. are annoying and made by people who understand neither. I've read some D.F.W., and i'm impressed, as anybody should be, by someone who is working so hard to do so...Adam Levin a horse of a different color (whatever that means)...Adam Levin stands alone here with this magnificent work. i've never read a 1000 pages with the constant feeling of wanting it NOT to end, of feeling so cared for.
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