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Paradise Paperback – March 14, 2006
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About the Author
- Publisher : Vintage (March 14, 2006)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1400079454
- ISBN-13 : 978-1400079452
- Item Weight : 6.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.23 x 0.67 x 7.99 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,367,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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Thank goodness it was a short book. I threw it in the basket on the way out of the restaurant after our book discussion. None of the ladies in the club, except the selector of this book, cared for the book. There are too many great books out there to read and so little time to read all of them.
This just was not my choice of literature. It was a waste of time for me to read such debased verbage. Yuck.
It is the first person account of one Hannah Luckraft, a thirty-ish year old woman whose alcoholism is either medication for an intractable depression or the cause of it. While sections of the book have been described as humorous, it is humor of the wry sort, the I-know-what-she-means sort (i.e. having been there myself,) it is nothing close to comic. It is the story of an addiction in all its technicolor black and white, its unanswerable needs and inevitable debasement. Kennedy's knowledge seems to be of the insider's sort implying either an extraordinary ability to write about her own experience or an enviable capacity for imagination. Whichever it reflects, this book is superb.
I have to admit that Kennedy's writing is also technically intriguing. From the start, Hannah's story is sometimes interrupted by short blackouts. Towards the end, however, events seem to occur out of sequence, to repeat and overlap, making one question even the apparent simplicity of the earlier writing, but taking one further still into the self-deluding mind of this brilliant woman.
This is a comment that came right out of the writer's mouth. She apparently was dead set on making good on this pledge because boy-oh-boy does the reader go to hell with main character Hannah, a seemingly somewhat attractive alcoholic who lives to destroy herself.
Growing up in Asbury Park, NJ, I'd seen lots and lots of derelicts and drunks, homeless people and crackheads. Their lot in life seemed so far gone to me that it couldn't be very much unlike looking into total darkness; making a home in a wasteland where carbon monoxide took the place of oxygen. Well, compared to Hannah, it seemed like they had it easy.
Literally bathing in the throes of human imperfection, Hannah is a puppet and Kennedy is the evil master pulling the strings. The poor girl spends her entire existence frequenting pub after pub after pub, blacks out all the time and never ceases to amaze in her efforts to destroy herself day in and day out. And the darnedest thing is, she manages to make it all sound like a hysterically good time. Witty, ironic and funny, puppet-master Kennedy has a ball killing narrator Hannah with the Devil's water: booze.
I call Kennedy the puppet-master because it seems that she is the only reason Hannah does these things to herself. I found myself asking why, why, why over and over again. With every hallucination and after every binge, it becomes less and less clear what her motivations are. It all seems contingent upon the whims of the writer - the malicious demon dead-set on taking us on a rollercoaster ride through her firey neighborhood at the expense of this hapless figment of her imagination.
Somehow through all these terrible experiences, Hannah meets the man of her dreams, though she doesn't know it. This is Robert, a hard drinking mix between Cary Grant and Dean Martin with all their skeletons thrown in as a package deal. He doesn't want to change her, just love her and be loved by her. That's cool and all but he sometimes seems to cramp her style because she'd much rather be wasted than be in love, already having chosen a threesome with Jim Beam and Captain Morgan. She loves being with him, undoutedly, but there's just something lacking about their love affair and I applaud the puppet-master for making that so eloquently subtle.
There's not a lot of story here, but what there is is beautifully written and well-told without overdoing it. She drinks, she rehabs, she drinks, she gets a boyfriend, she drinks, she rehabs, end of story...and not with the happiest of endings either. I'll tell you, if it weren't so funny from time to time, this is one book that might drive you to drink. Now and then, it's as sunless as "Under The Volcano" but more amusing than "Dry." If this floats your boat, go out and rent "Leaving Las Vegas," "Days Of Wine And Roses," or "The Lost Weekend." All tough ones to watch.
Top reviews from other countries
This is Alison Kennedy’s fourth, of her seven novels. It is now 12 years old. Her experience of being a stand up comedienne comes through with her wit and dark humour in this read.
I must confess that it took me several weeks to get through this book. I’d pick it up, read a few pages and then leave it a while again – I just couldn’t get into it ; at times I found the prose very start – stop with very little flow in places.
I did persist and I am moderately pleased that I did. I would think that Alison has some very close experiences of alcoholism as the read comes across as very realistic.
There isn’t too much of a storyline to be honest and the best is left until the very end – which I did enjoy. Maybe it’s a little overly long and could have done with just a few more twists, clever or startling moments to make you sit back and appreciate. However, it is different, though not gripping or truly interesting enough for me.
Not a bad read but not an outstanding one either IMHO. I’m still not sure if I would recommend it to a friend but I understand why some have really liked it.
AL Kennedy's "Paradise" is hard going. The central character is Hannah, an alcoholic woman trapped in a spiral of self-justification and self-loathing, whose attempts to get out of the hole she is in are destined to be thwarted by her relationship with another alcoholic, Robert, a dentist. Kennedy invests Hannah with her considerable resources of wit - the author makes regular appearances as a stand-up at Edinburgh - but despite this she is not good company.
The circularity means that there is little in the way of plot (as opposed to incident). A period drying out comes to nothing; she loses her job; egged on by Robert she goes on a binge which brings hallucinations and annihilates her personality. Except it doesn't, because always there is this highly articulate first-person narrator talking into your ear. The process of getting drunk is a process of liquefaction, but Hannah remains always and inevitably razor-sharp. Although this does allow Kennedy to get a kind of dual perspective on the flawed narrator, cheerily insisting she's in great shape while wetting her knickers, this contradiction also invests the whole novel with a curious artificiality, as if the author is in it for the exhibitionist exercise.
How long can anyone take being buttonholed by a drunk, however intelligent and funny, in a bar? Personally I'd give it about half an hour, and certainly not 350 pages. Members of my book club felt the same - we gave it an average of 2 stars.