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The Mighty Walzer: A Novel Paperback – March 29, 2011

3.4 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Poignant, moving, hilarious . . . laugh-out-loud funny . . . the sort of book that might change your life.” ―Observer (UK)

“Jacobson is a great storyteller: phrases, anecdotes and atmosphere roll off the page with the ease and sublime, scary grace of drunken eels--he is unsurpassable.” ―The Times (UK)

“This mature novel has the sustained exuberance and passion of his youthful writing . . . an achingly funny book . . . an amazing achievement . . . There are few novelists today who can imbue the trifles of life with such poetry.” ―Independent (UK)

“Marvellous. Jacobson has not just written the first great novel about ping-pong. He has written one of the greatest sporting novels ever.” ―Sunday Telegraph (UK)

“[Jacobson's] humour is unashamedly savage and his jokes as sharp as a switch-blade . . . comic vitriol worthy of Evelyn Waugh.” ―Express on Sunday (UK)

From the Inside Flap

Oliver Walzer is a natural at ping-pong. He can chop, flick, half-volley like a champion. At sex he is not a natural, but with tuition from Sheeny Waxman, his game improves. Unabashedly autobiographical, this is Howard Jacobson's masterpiece.


From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; First Edition edition (March 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608196852
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608196852
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,131,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The Mighty Walzer is a coming-of-age novel served to American readers with a whole lot of backspin. That is because Oliver Walzer, hero of Howard Jacobson's The Mighty Walzer, did his growing up in 1950s Manchester, England - specifically in a part of Manchester predominately populated by Jewish families like his own.

If shyness could kill, Oliver Walzer would never have reached puberty. That he did reach puberty, although he did not do a whole lot with the opportunities inherent to that stage of life, and go on to have a fairly "normal" life almost seems like an accident now, even to Oliver. The first accident was that he found a competition-grade Ping-Pong ball and brought it home with him one day. The second, was his discovery, by banging that ball off a wall with his hardbound copy of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, that he was a Ping-Pong natural.

Ping-Pong, and his father's insistence that Oliver use his unusual skills to meet other players ( as a way of forcing him out of the house for his own good), would be Oliver's ticket to the rest of his life. Suddenly, he was among like-minded people who came to accept him as one of their own; he had teammates; he learned to at least talk a good game about women, even though he seldom practiced his skills in that arena; and he had a goal: to become a world champion Ping-Pong player. Well, that's the good news, because I'm making Oliver's transition to adulthood sound a whole lot easier than it was.

The odds were against Oliver from the start. Surrounded by a gaggle of sexually repressed aunts who loved to give him baths, it is little wonder that the little boy would himself be sexually confused.
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By FORREST on September 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I defy you to keep silent while reading this acerbic, very auto-biographical book. My wife nearly divorced me on the spot for all the sighing and laughing. Very funny, very moving - but if you're anti-Semitic or at all prudish, forget it. There's something of Portnoy in here, of course - how else, he implies, do table tennis players make those wristy shots work so well? Jacobson's great achievement is to make the prosaic but strangely magnificent sport of table tennis the stuff of great literature. (And unless being ridiculously funny means that a book can't count as great, this is high quality material.) You don't have to be coked up like Patsy in Ab Fab to find the whole procedure irresistible. Highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An excellent introduction into the game of competitive table tennis, character development, ageing and maturing despite an insecure beginning and of course life as a Jew in a community of Jewishness. But why does the reader have to struggle through two or three books? Your main character's life was not that interesting, dear author, and his demands and expectations extremely repetitive and very much predictable So I did like it....before I fell asleep.
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Format: Paperback
I received The Mighty Walzer for early review and had a tough time getting into it. It was well-written, but just didn't capture my attention. I was having flashbacks to all the novels I was assigned to read for English Literature critical analysis class. You know, the ones that are shining examples of literature, grammar, sentence structure, tone, era, voice but some how manage to be the most boring books on the planet. Yes, I could write a term paper on the book and can appreciate its literary worth, but that doesn't mean I enjoyed it as a source of entertainment. On the front cover it notes that fans of Phillip Roth will presumably like this author's style. I would agree. Unfortunately, Phillip Roth does not excite me either. There is some satire, but unless you understand Yiddish and British slang, this might make your eyes cross. I think the comedic relief was lost of me due to my limited understanding of the language. I discovered I'm just not that interested in reading pages about ping pong facts, plays, moves or strategies couple with rambling accounts of growing up Jewish in Manchester. I did put the book down, thinking that perhaps my mood would change on another day. Maybe I just needed to be in a more serious frame of mind to enjoy this read, but after pushing through another hundred pages, I was still rather bored and asleep.
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Format: Paperback
The Mighty Walzer is a comic coming-of-age novel about a Jewish boy growing up in Manchester, UK, in the 1950s and 1960s. It is written in the first person and has a confessional tone, since the hero is a sex-obsessed and bashful boy. It is dangerously funny -- had to put it aside to catch my breath from laughter on many occasions -- but also sometimes quite moving. It is so studded with Yiddish terms (British versions) that footnotes or a glossary would have been helpful, though the context made most of them at least guessable. Jacobson is a dazzingly gifted novelist. I feel some frustration because the raucous vulgarity of his material prevents me from recommending the book to everyone I know. If you can get past the outrageous grubby adolescent male absorption with Sex (!) that is at least the context for much of the story, however, the wonderful cast of characters and the sheer brilliance of the writing make this a marvelous read.
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