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Warp: A Novel Paperback – November, 1997

2.4 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Paperback, November, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Fun, sassy, and sardonic in its opening pages, this first novel tells the story of Hollis, a recent Harvard grad who loves Star Trek reruns and hasn't a clue about what to do with the rest of his life: a timely dilemma, since he has just cashed in his last bank certificate, quit his job, and lost his girlfriend to a fancy firm downtown. Grossman has captured the real thing: a smart guy who doesn't know whether he should immerse himself in corporate culture. The writing is full of sly humor and the kind of erudite facts favored by recent graduates, along with a cynicism that only the young can sustain. Grossman is most successful in capturing voice (here meaning angst) and rendering great dialog. Too often, though, he interjects sf vignettes and snippets of dialog that could have been lifted from a medieval romance. In the book's major quest, Hollis and a buddy break into the house of a friend of the family, and the low stakes involved zap away all tension. Meanwhile, the charming, enigmatic Xanthe floats through the book, appearing (or not appearing, it's hard to tell which) at the oddest places. A fun take on life for the twentysomething crowd that doesn't quite succeed but offers entertaining moments.?Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., Bloomington, Ind.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

First novel from a twentysomething about twentysomethings in Boston. Star Trek aficionado Hollis went to Harvard, where he majored in Urban Studies. When asked what that is he says, ``I forget exactly. I think there was a large filmic component.'' He's a collection of clever remarks, and Grossman does not so much tell his story as take a snapshot of him during a time of indecision as he wanders through an evening and a night and a day in search of meaning. Hollis is a likable fellow, a smart-ass, though not malicious, always visualizing himself in Star Trek episodes; or as a noble knight-errant who must leave beautiful maidens behind as he goes off to serve the king; or as a brave little boy in a children's story, sailing out to capture a sea monster that has been terrorizing the village. Hollis is endlessly self-conscious, trying on different identities to see if one could possibly fit. In scenes with his friends, similarly educated and aimless, he offers some comic commentary, just as his idol, James Joyce, does in Ulysses. He has a sort of epiphany deep in the night, too: a meeting and quick sex with a punker named Xanthe. Then, during the day, he meets an old girlfriend, Eileen, who is actually working, and suggests that Hollis soon will be, too. And so he will, but not before more clever talk in bars, more hours before the tube, and some more daydreaming. Far gentler than Jay McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City. Despite the repeated references to Joyce, the style and subject here are far more reminiscent of the young Fitzgerald. Grossman can write, but sooner or later he'll have to find a subject. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 183 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (November 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312170599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312170592
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,244,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Blake Fraina VINE VOICE on July 20, 2016
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you’re a fan of Lev Grossman, this is kind of a must read. Mind you, it isn’t a particularly good book, nor does much happen in it. Okay, nothing really happens. It’s very much a pretentious, post-college type first novel. Truth be told, I’m surprised it even found a publisher because, while any sharp editor might recognize the potential here, it’s easy to see the author reaching for something that seems just beyond his grasp. Of course, if you’re familiar with his later works, you know he gets there eventually. And that’s precisely why it’s a must for fans of his Magicians trilogy - because the seeds of those epic and wonderful novels are on almost every page of Warp. So yeah, for that it gets four-stars.

In brief, it’s the story of Hollis Kessler, a glum, broke and unemployed college grad living in Boston who, along with his sardonic pal Peters, breaks into a mansion for a weekend of debauchery while the owners are away. They both smoke and drink a lot, discuss friends, former classmates and the various women in their lives and toss around a lot of nerdy film quotes. That’s pretty much it. Oh, and Hollis has a constant interior narration in response to what’s going on around him that consists of quotations from books and films (some easily recognizable, others not so much).

So much of what’s in this book ended up in the Magicians in some form or another – if Hollis is the prototype for the Magicians protagonist, Quentin Coldwater, than surely Peters is a nascent version of Elliot. Their whole dynamic, their geeky conversations and way of speaking - it's all there. The moment when Hollis steps off the trolley into the huge deserted brick plaza of the Government Center had strange echoes of Quentin's arrival in the Neitherlands.
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By A Customer on May 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
I'm not Lev Grossman and I liked the book. Actually I liked it a lot. It's sad and elegic and not very funny, but some of the scenes were honestly moving. Another thing was that the book had exactly the right length for what it was about. There's too many writers who fill too many pages with too little content. I'll definitely look out for more books by this guy. The episode with the punk girl sounded more like the author daydreaming though.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Although I read the entire new-to-the-2016-edition preface (the best part of the book), I still can't fathom why Lev Grossman wanted to re-release his first novel. Whereas The Magicians is a tightly-plotted epic set in a richly painted universe, Warp is a slice-of-life about aimless young Gen-Xers. The hook, according to the official synopsis, is that "there's another world going on in his [the protagonist's] head, a world of excitement and danger and starships and romance, and it's telling him that it's time to stop dreaming and get serious." That "world" is, for the most part, quotations pulled from Star Trek and other sci-fi/fantasy canon that are interspersed with the prose. As to "telling him that it's time to stop dreaming and get serious"… well, if that ever happens, it happens some time after the events described in Warp. Our indifferent hero remains noncommittal to the very end.

I look forward to whatever Lev Grossman does next. But there's no reason to revisit this failed attempt at writing a Catcher in the Rye for the '90s.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
To begin with this is A) A very good book and B) A book very much of its time (the early/mid 90s) when it was the fashion for Gen Xers to examine and bemoan the world around them and their (lack of) place in it

It is also clearly the work of the kind of talent that would go on to produce one of the better trilogies of the 21st century ("The Magicians") which, by the way, would also lead to one of the better TV series of recent years (A word to the reader who is not yet a viewer, though. The TV show is NOT the slavish "illustrating the book" concept of, say, "Game of Thrones". Rather it is a... very good... variant that is more faithful to the "feel" of the books than the letter)

If I needed to explain the drawback(s) of the piece, I would probably say that it simply tries too hard, or, more accurately, that you SEE the trying.

The assured and very flowing writer of the magicians saga is, here, just finding his footing and you can see the work

It's like the difference between an actor like Spencer Tracy who is never caught acting and (on screen) Al Pacino who, no matter how brilliant, is ALWAYS caught acting

Anyhow, it's also under 180 pages so, ya know, how much trouble can it be to read (none) compared to how much pleasure it can be (lots)
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By A Customer on March 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
Rarely have I read a book quite as puerile as this one. The author's masturbatory ramblings are as sophomoric as the novel's supposedly sophisticated subject-matter: a tragically hip slacker who wanders around the city of his past. Grossman articulates the self-indulgent ideation of every collegiate male who has read "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," romanticizing erotic and intellectual dorm-room epiphanies in a grotesque charade of introspection.
The point of this novel is (how original!) the pointlessness of the main character's life. He (named Hollis) peregrinates around Boston in a Harvardian gloom, thinking about Star Trek and His Life. Somone should tell Grossman that Faulkner did this 75 years ago, minus the fetishistic television references, which add nothing to anything. Postmodern ennui and mass culture overlay were finished by the time that Tama Janowitz hit the scene, so Grossman's utter derivativeness goes beyond the boring into the totally banal.
Hollis does nothing, and moans to himself about the inevitability of going "corporate." The problem with this sort of soft, rich-boy literature is that it is underwritten by a mindset that yearns to be in college again, forever. Maybe if the author got a job he would get some real material and not have to mull over his extended adolescence in order to wring out some moisture for his novel.
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