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Prétextat Tach, prix Nobel de littérature, n’a plus que deux mois à vivre. Des journalistes du monde entier sollicitent des interviews de l’écrivain que sa misanthropie tient reclus depuis des années. Quatre seulement vont le rencontrer, dont il se jouera selon une dialectique où la mauvaise foi et la logique se télescopent. La cinquième lui tiendra tête, il se prendra au Prétextat Tach, prix Nobel de littérature, n’a plus que deux mois à vivre. Des journalistes du monde entier sollicitent des interviews de l’écrivain que sa misanthropie tient reclus depuis des années. Quatre seulement vont le rencontrer, dont il se jouera selon une dialectique où la mauvaise foi et la logique se télescopent. La cinquième lui tiendra tête, il se prendra au jeu. Si ce roman est presque entièrement dialogué, c’est qu’aucune forme ne s’apparente autant à la torture. Les échanges, de simples interviews, virent peu à peu à l’interrogatoire, à un duel sans merci où se dessine alors un homme différent, en proie aux secrets les plus sombres. Dans ce premier roman d’une extraordinaire intensité, Amélie Nothomb manie la cruauté, le cynisme et l’ambiguïté avec un talent accompli.


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Prétextat Tach, prix Nobel de littérature, n’a plus que deux mois à vivre. Des journalistes du monde entier sollicitent des interviews de l’écrivain que sa misanthropie tient reclus depuis des années. Quatre seulement vont le rencontrer, dont il se jouera selon une dialectique où la mauvaise foi et la logique se télescopent. La cinquième lui tiendra tête, il se prendra au Prétextat Tach, prix Nobel de littérature, n’a plus que deux mois à vivre. Des journalistes du monde entier sollicitent des interviews de l’écrivain que sa misanthropie tient reclus depuis des années. Quatre seulement vont le rencontrer, dont il se jouera selon une dialectique où la mauvaise foi et la logique se télescopent. La cinquième lui tiendra tête, il se prendra au jeu. Si ce roman est presque entièrement dialogué, c’est qu’aucune forme ne s’apparente autant à la torture. Les échanges, de simples interviews, virent peu à peu à l’interrogatoire, à un duel sans merci où se dessine alors un homme différent, en proie aux secrets les plus sombres. Dans ce premier roman d’une extraordinaire intensité, Amélie Nothomb manie la cruauté, le cynisme et l’ambiguïté avec un talent accompli.

30 review for Hygiène de l'assassin

  1. 4 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    How to Read Reading is typical therapy for the unrecognised dread of chaos. Thinking can only make chaos more obvious, and therefore more dreadful. Sex provides merely a temporary distraction from chaos, an interlude between dreadful moments. Gluttony and drugs can be effective remedies for the feelings generated by chaos but they have unfortunate side effects. No, it is only reading that provides a lasting cure for the chaotic meaninglessness of life. Reading does not answer questions, it frames How to Read Reading is typical therapy for the unrecognised dread of chaos. Thinking can only make chaos more obvious, and therefore more dreadful. Sex provides merely a temporary distraction from chaos, an interlude between dreadful moments. Gluttony and drugs can be effective remedies for the feelings generated by chaos but they have unfortunate side effects. No, it is only reading that provides a lasting cure for the chaotic meaninglessness of life. Reading does not answer questions, it frames them so that chaos appears orderly. Reading calms the mind like a mother's voice calms a child. It doesn't change the world; it just makes it more bearable. To expect more from reading is a sort of sacrilege: “Nothing is more vulgar than to have everything explained, including the things that are inexplicable.” As the poetically named Prétextat Tach says, “We need meaning more than anything else.” Some of us will kill for it. All of us search for it. Writers write in order to read about the meaning they have created out of chaos. “Writing begins where speech leaves off, and a great mystery lies behind the passage from the unspeakable to the speakable. The written word takes over where the spoken word leaves off, and they do not overlap.” It is only the written word that satisfies the therapeutic need to connect things which are inherently independent. “What is text,” asks Prétextat, “if not gigantic verbal cartilage?” Hence the power of religious texts to still our worries about fundamental disorder. But most people don’t really read properly. “There are a great many people who push sophistication to the point of reading without reading. They’re like frogmen, they go through books without absorbing a single drop of water.” They use words to insulate themselves from what is not words. They are unaware that reading is meant to change everything about them, especially in their relationships to things that are not words. What these folk lack is sympathy with the motivation of the writer, which is not communication but influence. “Faced with a shapeless, senseless universe, a writer is obliged to play the demiurge. Without the remarkable assistance of his pen, the world would never have been able to give shape to things, and the stories of men would always have been wide open, like some horrible madhouse.” The writer wants the reader to confirm that the world has structure and purpose, that is to say, meaning. People idolise the god-like writer when they overlook his intent to dominate their existence. They forget, if they ever knew, that the writer is using them. “Great writers have a direct and supernatural access to the lives of others.” This is only a talent by convention; actually “writers are obscene; if they were not, they would be accountants, or train conductors, or telephone operators; they would be respectable.” So writers have to be interrogated carefully by readers - like Job demanding a response from God, but with even more intense persistence. The divine does not give up its secrets or its motivations easily. Idols have to be destroyed at the root lest they appear in some alternate form. The real reader kills the God who provides meaning by exposing him for what he is, and humiliates him for the deceitful order he has given to the world. This is a reader who has grown up and left the illusions of childhood, particularly the false literacy of words. He is the one who gets God to admit that “Love has no meaning, and that is why it is sacred... Love serves no purpose other than love.” Recognising this, the real reader becomes... well, God. If he's lucky, he then has a chance to experience something other than words. He might even use words in an entirely different way. Then the process starts all over again.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Fionnuala

    I enjoy reading Vladimir Nabokov but I'm aware of his disdain for his readers. I've come across lines in his books which make that disdain too clear to ignore. It's true that those lines are often addressed to critics/reviewers for whom he seemed to harbour particular contempt, as in this line from The Gift, one hears the flippantly flat little voice of the reviewer (perhaps even of the female sex). But the disdain feels directed at readers too. It's in the way he repeats episodes from one book I enjoy reading Vladimir Nabokov but I'm aware of his disdain for his readers. I've come across lines in his books which make that disdain too clear to ignore. It's true that those lines are often addressed to critics/reviewers for whom he seemed to harbour particular contempt, as in this line from The Gift, one hears the flippantly flat little voice of the reviewer (perhaps even of the female sex). But the disdain feels directed at readers too. It's in the way he repeats episodes from one book to another. I can imagine him thinking that we don't read with enough attention to notice those repetitions. It's also in the way he sometimes feels the need to explain his own cleverness—as if we were incapable of figuring out his puzzles. In Speak, Memory, for example, the narrator remembers a car his family owned. Speaking of the new design, he says, The idea of speed had already given a slant to the steering wheel (sea-cliff trees will understand what I mean.) And readers wont? That's all very well, I hear you say, but what has Nabokov's possible disdain for his readers to do with this book by Amélie Nothomb? Let me explain. Nothomb's main character, Prétextat Tach (let's call him Text for short), is a famous writer who has nothing but disdain for his readers, and especially for female readers. He feels that most readers can't possibly understand the real intent of his fiction, and he believes that many of them only pretend to have read his books in any case. Critics and reviewers are aware that he holds them in extreme contempt too. The fact that Text has been a recluse for years has only added to the fearsome reputation he has developed. At the beginning of Nothomb's novel, we hear that Text has been told by his doctors that he has only a few months to live. This news motivates him to give four interviews to literary journalists. The novel, written almost entirely in dialogue, is a very clever record of those interviews, each serving to fill the reader in on different aspects of the reclusive author's writing career and life. But Nabokov wasn't a recluse, I hear you say. He may not have been a recluse but he left his home in the US and chose to live in a hotel suite in Montreux during his last years. And he did have a fearsome reputation—he could be quite vicious about other writers as well as about critics. But it seems to me that the way he resembles Nothomb's main character the most is in the importance in his work of one particular theme: puberty. It's to be found in The Gift, in The Enchanter, in Lolita and in Ada, or Ardor. In Ada, or Ardor, which feels quite autobiographical at times, there are so many parallels between the life of the narrator, Van Veen, and the life of Nothomb's main character, as revealed in the interviews he gives, that I felt certain Nothomb must have used Van Veen as a model for Text. Like Text, Van is dying, and he's confined to a wheelchair just as Text is. From his current home (which seems to be in Montreux, incidentally) Van is determined, in the course of a number of fractious interviews with his secretary, to revisit an episode in his life when he and his young cousin Ada lived an idyllic childhood in a beautiful estate somewhere in France. That idyl ended when his cousin Ada reached puberty. Text's early life is almost a replica of Van's. He grew up alongside his young cousin on a large domain deep in the French countryside until puberty put an end to his idyl. I wish I could interview Amelie Nothomb about this theory of mine but I'm guessing she'd send me packing, probably as quickly and as furiously as Text disposes of some of his interviewers, one of whom offers her own theory about what she feels lies at the heart of his work. If you read Nothomb's book for yourself, be prepared to deal with a very devious and thoroughly unlikeable main character. ………………………… P. S. I've just read a short story by Henry James on the recommendation of a goodreads friend (thanks Katia). The story has provided me with the perfect pretext to attach an extra section to this review which I hadn't yet posted because it seemed somehow incomplete. I still feel that Nabokov's emphasis on the theme of puberty must have been an inspiration for Nothomb's book but I now wonder if she wasn't also inspired by Henry James. The James story I've just read concerns a reviewer who gets obsessed with discovering the theme that a rather evasive but celebrated writer claimed, in an unguarded moment, to be embedded in his work. The writer also claimed that his readers only pretend to read his novels—so there is a certain disdain for readers in his attitude too. As I pointed out earlier, one of the four interviewers in Nothomb's story, a woman called Nina, is very obsessed with the hidden themes in Text's work, and that obsession, as in the Henry James story, has serious consequences. It's a very close parallel, and I'm still amazed that I should have stumbled on it so serendipitously. Yes, I'm very glad to have read the James story. I had done my own detective work on Nothomb's novel, but Henry James has given me a name for what I, and indeed Nothomb's Nina, were actually doing: tracing The Figure in the Carpet.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    “I think like Bertrand Russell, I write like Vladimir Nabokov, and I speak like Christopher Hitchens.” Playing fast and free with dates, the above modified Nabokov quote is in the spirit of what might have been expounded by Prétextat Tach, Nobel Prize winner for Literature and central character in Hygiene and the Assassin, Amélie Nothomb's first novel published in 1992 when the Belgium author was age twenty-six. Hygiene and the Assassin is written in French, thus I'll refer to the first four unna “I think like Bertrand Russell, I write like Vladimir Nabokov, and I speak like Christopher Hitchens.” Playing fast and free with dates, the above modified Nabokov quote is in the spirit of what might have been expounded by Prétextat Tach, Nobel Prize winner for Literature and central character in Hygiene and the Assassin, Amélie Nothomb's first novel published in 1992 when the Belgium author was age twenty-six. Hygiene and the Assassin is written in French, thus I'll refer to the first four unnamed journalists who come one at a time to interview the great author as Un, Deux, Trois and Quatre. Such interviews are unprecedented - sealed off as an urban hermit within his apartment for dozens of years, Prétextat Tach has never made a public appearance or granted anything close to an interview. Un is in for a shock. He's under the impression eighty-three year old Prétextat Tach with a rare form of cartilage cancer and given two months to live will answer his questions cordially so he can simply transcribe his recording of the exchange with the dying Nobel Prize winner for his magazine. True, he discovers a few facts from the fat old man confined to a wheelchair: his youthful writing habits, how he wrote all day, every day from age twenty-three to fifty-nine and surprise, surprise - how he hasn't written a word in the last twenty-three years; rather, his secretary has been feeding the publishers in more recent times with novels he wrote during his writing phase. But then when Un presumes to have knowledge of the details of fiction and writing, and more specifically, Prétextat Tach's fiction (Un has read only a scant amount of the famous author's twenty-two published novels), the exchange quickly turns nasty then ends with Tach raging that Un is a vulgar, disrespectful, ill-mannered lout and demands he leave at once. Deux fares even worse. He poses non-literary questions and Prétextat Tach talks about his eating, drinking and smoking habits along with his daily schedule. It quickly becomes obvious this old guy is a great novelist but he is also a disgusting, odious blob, a self-centered glutton, bigot, racist and misogynist. When Tach goes on about his diet and digestion in lurid detail, Deux runs from the premises only to vomit outside on the sidewalk. Likewise with Trois, who begins by asking silly non-literary questions - Are you in favor of the Gulf War? Do you like young people? - and when the conversation does turn literary, Trois doesn't want to ask questions as much as debate the aesthetics of literature with Tach. The interview is cut short and Trios is given the bum's rush out the door. Quatre's interview is much longer than the previous three, a discussion with Tach touching on intriguing topics like what it means to read, really read, a book and, if read correctly, how a book can change a reader. Also, what it means to be a writer and the pleasure a writer derives from the craft. But then when Prétextat Tach spouts off about his hatred for women, their ugliness, their filthiness, their base emotional natures, their hypocrisy, jealousy, nastiness and iniquity, Quatre shifts into challenge and debate mode and it isn't long before he is asked to leave. Thus the stage is set for the novel's real drama. Compared with what follows, the Un, Deux, Trois, Quatre interviews are mere clown skits. When Monsieur Tach sees his next journalist is a Mademoiselle he immediately demands she leave. She refuses, citing she was grated permission by Tach's secretary. Tach hurls insults - "you ugly insolent unfuckable little shit face." Mademoiselle looks at her watch and gives Tach exactly two minutes to apologize. He rants but when Mademoiselle opens the door to leave, Tach does indeed apologize. But that's not enough. Mademoiselle requires an apology phrased in appropriate language and spoken with feeling. Tach acquiesces. Oh, Prétextat Tach - you, sir, have met your match. This Mademoiselle (many pages later, we learn her name is Nina) has done her homework - she's studied all of Tech's twenty-two novels in depth, knowing things like how many female characters in each novel; she's conducted extensive research on Tach's past - the Tech family was rich and lived in a country château, Tach growing up with a younger cousin named Léopoldine. Added to this, Nina refuses to take any guff and can give as good as she gets in all phases of argument. And she's extraordinarily well educated and articulate. What a gal! Nina sets the ground rules: the interview will end when either she crawls on her hands and knees to the fat Nobel author or Prétextat Tach crawls on his hands and knees to her. Sound like the emotional stakes have been raised? You bet they have. Getting down to analysis of Prétextat Tach's novels, observations are exchanges and accusations leveled. Then emotion kicks up into even higher gear when the conversation moves to hidden facts surrounding that country château and Tach's younger cousin, Léopoldine. As it becomes clear, Tach holds some mighty strong opinions regarding the transition from childhood to adolescence, opinions elucidated in the great writer's last, unfinished novel - Hygiene and the Assassin, a novel the author permitted to be published as is, without a formal ending. Allow me to pause here to mention Amélie Nothomb has devoted many pages in her other novels to her own issues concerning growing out of childhood. And, as I understand, Amélie has something else in common with Tach - in addition to her list of published works, she has many unpublished novels stashed away. Back on Nina's interview: yet again emotions flair and the dramatic vibe reaches fever pitch in the dance of Eros and Thanatos in the closing section. Here's a snip: "The novelist seemed to have attained the intellectual ecstasy of the scholar who after twenty years of research finally discovers the coherence of his system. His gaze was deconstructing some invisible absolute, while his greasy forehead pearled with moisture like a mucous membrane." And to think Amélie Nothomb wrote this novel at age twenty-five. Remarkable. One last quote to catch the fire of the interaction between Nina and Tech: "I admire you. To be able to come up with a theory that is both so insane and so coherent is absolutely amazing. In the beginning I thought you were going to come with some banal macho rubbish. But I underestimated you. Your explanation is ridiculously exaggerated and subtle at the same time: women must simply be exterminated. Isn't that it?" Ready for explosive drama? If so, Hygiene and the Assassin is your book. Highly, highly recommended. Amélie Nothomb around age 25 when she wrote Hygiene and the Assassin

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    The best book ever written featuring the worst kind of person? Well....if we're talking about a hideous old misogynist lump of lard with a Ph.D. in masturbation, then yes. If I got to interview Prétextat Tach then the rest may as well pack up and go home, as I'd readily drown him in his own Brandy Alexander vomit. The best book ever written featuring the worst kind of person? Well....if we're talking about a hideous old misogynist lump of lard with a Ph.D. in masturbation, then yes. If I got to interview Prétextat Tach then the rest may as well pack up and go home, as I'd readily drown him in his own Brandy Alexander vomit.

  5. 4 out of 5

    leynes

    This is the worst piece of crap I ever had the displeasure of reading. I buddy-read this with the wonderful Frede who made the smart choice of DNFing this trashy book halfway through, alas, I wasn't as smart, and powered through. Hygiène de l'Assassin is Amélie Nothomb's first novel and the fourth that I have read from her. This made me realize that I am absolutely done with this woman. Out of the four books I read I only enjoyed one (Robert des Noms Propres) and loathed the other three (Les Com This is the worst piece of crap I ever had the displeasure of reading. I buddy-read this with the wonderful Frede who made the smart choice of DNFing this trashy book halfway through, alas, I wasn't as smart, and powered through. Hygiène de l'Assassin is Amélie Nothomb's first novel and the fourth that I have read from her. This made me realize that I am absolutely done with this woman. Out of the four books I read I only enjoyed one (Robert des Noms Propres) and loathed the other three (Les Combustibles, Antéchrista and now Hygiène). If that tally doesn't speak louder than words, let me elaborate: I feel like Nothomb has some serious issues in her personal life that she keeps working into her novels, which lead all of her novels to be, at core, the same fucking story. There are so many reoccurring tropes and themes (especially in regards to adults feeling trapped and not wanting to grow up, adults having body issues, either over- or undereating, and in general just very, very, very unlikeable characters that you would love to punch in the face), it gets boring and foreseeable. Personally, I count Nothomb into the same category I count Murakami in. It's interesting to read one of their works and be exposed to the weirdness/creepiness/whatever, but it gets damn old real fast. I'm convinced that the only reason I enjoyed Robert des Noms Propres so much is the fact that this was my first read of hers, had I read it now I would have probably rolled my eyes as well due to its unoriginality. Nothomb publishes her books at an incredible rate: on average one per year for the last 25 years. That's just crazy. But let's talk a little bit about this fucking mess that calls itself a novel: Prétextat Tach is overweight (and more often than not just referred to as the overweight one) and about to die from cancer. During his lifetime he has published more than 20 novels (just like Nothomb now *cough* I might talk about self-fulfilling prophecies later because this bitch is headed in Tach's direction real quick) and so five journalists are interviewed for final interviews before Tach bites the dust. Yay. The first four interviews end in fucking catastrophes as Tach's unwilling to take the journalists seriously and spends his time offending them. These four interviews take up half of the novel and should have honestly been cut out entirely. They serve no purpose at all. They're incredibly badly written and all you gather from them is that Tach's an asshole. Yay. I knew that from the get go when he refused to be interviewed by women or Black people ... And the last interview takes up the second half of the story. It consists basically of a female journalist trying to expose Tach for a murder that he committed in his youth. Somehow it turns into useless quarrelling about the beauty of youth and how women once they get their periods should be killed off. Issa lot. Oh, and the fucking journalist then morphed into Tach and assassinates his ass. It's fucking crazy. And useless. And oh my gosh, why did I waste my time reading this crap??? Did I mention that this ENTIRE FUCKING NOVEL is written COMPLETELY IN DIALOGUE??? WTF?? BITCH? There are no descriptions. It reads like a fucking play, without stage directions. I want to die. Stylistically it's just bad, oh so bad. And thinking back on the only proper play I've read from her, Les Combustibles, Nothomb can't write plays for shit, her dialogue seems contrived and artificial. These characters don't feel real. But they also don't feel like caricatures or metaphors. They just seem like a heap of bullshit for Nothomb to sort her personal issues out. Ugh, it's been a long time since I've had a vendetta against an author (lmao ya'll know I'm crazy) but I'm just 100% done with Nothomb. I won't be reading another work of hers. She can continue being "pregnant with all of her novels" (her words, not mine, you guys) and I will spend my time and money on something more worthwhile. Peace out!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy

    The main character, Pretextat, being the impetus and pretext here, is the fattest strawberry of a strawman I’ve read in a while, thus stuffed competently like a bale of hay he rolls a hollow wind, counter to such rolls of fat written to his flesh, for he is air and err. Conveniently for this parable-parade, here come three journalists like wise men to a manger, filled with bad faith, and they too are strawmen, cowards, ignoramuses, careerists, what have you. Pick up your pitchforks, men, it’s st The main character, Pretextat, being the impetus and pretext here, is the fattest strawberry of a strawman I’ve read in a while, thus stuffed competently like a bale of hay he rolls a hollow wind, counter to such rolls of fat written to his flesh, for he is air and err. Conveniently for this parable-parade, here come three journalists like wise men to a manger, filled with bad faith, and they too are strawmen, cowards, ignoramuses, careerists, what have you. Pick up your pitchforks, men, it’s straw against straw in this straw eat straw world! Better watch out with that lighter there, pal, you could burn this whole castle to the ground! But looky here comes the author herself disguised as a character named Nina, a smart young woman always ready with not only the most correct and witty answer, but one which makes the reader feel at ease knowing that such a pretext has been tackled. And what do we have here now? A completely unbelievable twist ending? You betcha. That said, this was a very entertaining and fast (even addictive) read, which made me howl with laughter at times. I hope some of her other books are more substantive (and less transparently one-sided) than this, though. I’d like to add that I really enjoyed the movie Fear and Trembling (based on a book by hers) which also had a similar sense of hyperbole and sparring dialogue. But it worked a lot better in that movie, so maybe this just isn’t her strongest book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jacob

    August 2012 A famous, reclusive, dying writer turns out to be an obese and disgusting old bigot (and "the fattest strawberry of a strawman," according to Jimmy's brilliant review), and none but Nina can cross swords with him. Huzzah. Too brief? Well, it's a short book--short and entertaining, even if Prétextat Tach is a foul old man. Perhaps because. I certainly chuckled at inappropriate times. Didn't expect to like it--it was bought on a whim a few months ago, grabbed yesterday on the way to the August 2012 A famous, reclusive, dying writer turns out to be an obese and disgusting old bigot (and "the fattest strawberry of a strawman," according to Jimmy's brilliant review), and none but Nina can cross swords with him. Huzzah. Too brief? Well, it's a short book--short and entertaining, even if Prétextat Tach is a foul old man. Perhaps because. I certainly chuckled at inappropriate times. Didn't expect to like it--it was bought on a whim a few months ago, grabbed yesterday on the way to the toilet, not tossed aside when I came back--and certainly didn't expect to keep reading once I realized it was told largely in dialogue, arguments, verbal sparring (I ran away from Gaddis's J R a few years ago for that reason, and you have permission to mock me in the comments), but there you have it. I liked it. It was good. I feel a bit dumb because I can't think of anything brilliant to say about it like the other reviews, but don't let that discourage you from reading it yourself. And mocking me later in the comments. Aside: The first six reviews that show up on the page are in four languages other than English. I thought that was pretty cool. No, wait, what am I saying? Speak American!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    Hygiene and the Assassin probably qualifies for my "strangest book read this year" award (up there with Little Hands Clapping) but at the same time, there's something unique between the covers of this small novel. The setup for the story is that a Nobel Prize-winning author by the name of Prétextat Tach is about to die. He is the author of twenty-two novels, is extremely reclusive, and has never granted an interview over his long career. Now that he is dying (from Elzenveirverplatz Syndrome -- a Hygiene and the Assassin probably qualifies for my "strangest book read this year" award (up there with Little Hands Clapping) but at the same time, there's something unique between the covers of this small novel. The setup for the story is that a Nobel Prize-winning author by the name of Prétextat Tach is about to die. He is the author of twenty-two novels, is extremely reclusive, and has never granted an interview over his long career. Now that he is dying (from Elzenveirverplatz Syndrome -- a long name for a rare cartilage cancer), Tach's assistant has granted a select few journalists the rarest of opportunities for an interview. One by one they come in, tape recorders ready to capture every word, and one by one Tach makes proverbial mincemeat out of them and tosses them out. But the meat of this book begins with the entrance of Nina, an intriguing young woman who isn't about to join her predecessors. After only a short while, and after Tach makes a remark about enjoying watching people crawl at his feet, Nina offers an intriguing wager: "You said something about crawling. I suggest identical stakes for both of us. If I crack, I'm the one who'll crawl at your feet, but if you crack, you'll crawl at my feet. I like to see people crawling at my feet too." Tach takes the bet, noting that he loves "squashing people," and that "humiliating pretentious airhead females" is something that brings him "extreme pleasure." And thus begins the verbal fencing match between the two, which lasts for the book's remaining 74 pages. There is absolutely no redeeming quality in the character of Tach; he is one of the most odious characters ever imagined. He's self-obsessed, feels he has risen above the rest of the world, cares nothing for the rest of humanity (especially for women). But what makes this book work and work well is the often brutal repartee between Tach and Nina, as she manipulates the conversation which eventually leads back into his past -- but to say more would be to ruin it. This book is not for everyone; it is odd and very quirky with a main character that is, quite frankly, a disgusting pig. If that doesn't bother you, it is one of those novels that will entice you with its beginning and keep you reading until the last page. And although the core of this story consists only of dialogue, it is extremely well done -- it is not clumsy or out of step, and stays solidly grounded within the inherent qualities of both characters. IMHO, this is the mark of a good translation, which as a reader, I definitely appreciate.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Adina

    Best dialogue ever! The whole book is an interview of a Nobel for literature winner which ends to be an interrogation where terrible secrets are uncovered. Highest possible recommendation.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    I bought this book on a whim after class one sunny spring afternoon, started it on the bus on my way home… and read the entire thing before going to bed that night. I have re-read a few times since and I am always impressed by the fascinating story and the characters’ vitriolic repartee. Amélie Nothomb’s writing has a beautiful flow and cadence, which makes her a wonderful author if you are looking for a quick read, but that is not the reason this book was impossible to put down. The biting dialo I bought this book on a whim after class one sunny spring afternoon, started it on the bus on my way home… and read the entire thing before going to bed that night. I have re-read a few times since and I am always impressed by the fascinating story and the characters’ vitriolic repartee. Amélie Nothomb’s writing has a beautiful flow and cadence, which makes her a wonderful author if you are looking for a quick read, but that is not the reason this book was impossible to put down. The biting dialogue, outrageous as it is, simply gripped me and I HAD TO KNOW what was coming up next. I’m not easily shocked, so the main character being a bigoted, disgusting human being didn’t stop me from admiring the dazzling verbal sparring he engages his visitors in from the first to the last page. The novel structured as a series of interviews between a an old reclusive writer, Prétexta Tach, and the journalists who come to interview him when he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. He destroys the first 3, but the 4th, an intriguing young woman who knows more than she lets on, rises to the odious challenge of getting under his skin and bringing his true story to the surface. And once you get a peek at what that story truly is, you just can’t look away! The cleverness of the dialogue is very impressive, as is the character of Nina, the final journalist, who pushes and manipulates Tach until his hideous truth has no choice but to come out. Quirky, grotesque, revolting, hilarious read. It was Nothomb’s first published book, and in my opinion (I have read about 10 of her other works) it remains her best. I can definitely see how this is not everyone’s cup of tea, but fearless readers should definitely dive in!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    My first Nothomb, and also her debut (1992). The first half of the book was a pleasant surprise: especially the character of the 83-year-old terminal writer is striking; Pretextat Tach (the name!) is a reincarnated Celine, perhaps even worse in his misanthropy, his misogyny and his ill will. The intensive dialogues have a fresh flavour, and Nothomb knows how to make the cynical-sarcastic bashing of Tach on literary conformism very credible. But then the story makes a turn, an omniscient female j My first Nothomb, and also her debut (1992). The first half of the book was a pleasant surprise: especially the character of the 83-year-old terminal writer is striking; Pretextat Tach (the name!) is a reincarnated Celine, perhaps even worse in his misanthropy, his misogyny and his ill will. The intensive dialogues have a fresh flavour, and Nothomb knows how to make the cynical-sarcastic bashing of Tach on literary conformism very credible. But then the story makes a turn, an omniscient female journalist turns up which has dug deep into Tach's past and forces him to his knees (literally). The cutting dialogues remain vivid in this second part, but the credibility of the story is totally gone, ending in a very predictable denouement. I also had an issue with the gaudy, pedantic use of very unusual French words. For a debut this is certainly promising, but still a slight disappointment.

  12. 4 out of 5

    جليس الكتاب

    Am I missing something or was it a lousy translation? Or may be both. Wrong book for a long weekend. It leaves you with no satisfaction.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Durrant

    The popular and prolific Belgian novelist Amélie Nothomb is devilishly clever at creating bizarre scenarios and, to say the least, off-beat characters. "Hygiène de l'assassin" was her debut novel (1992) and many still classify it as her best, although I would give that award, by a slight margin, to "Stupeur et Tremblements," a story about a young European woman trying and failing to assimilate into the Japanese working world (Nothomb grew up in Japan). It is fitting, I suppose, that a novelist's The popular and prolific Belgian novelist Amélie Nothomb is devilishly clever at creating bizarre scenarios and, to say the least, off-beat characters. "Hygiène de l'assassin" was her debut novel (1992) and many still classify it as her best, although I would give that award, by a slight margin, to "Stupeur et Tremblements," a story about a young European woman trying and failing to assimilate into the Japanese working world (Nothomb grew up in Japan). It is fitting, I suppose, that a novelist's first novel should be about a novelist: in this case, Prétextat Tach, a former Nobel Prize winner and a monomaniac to a degree that makes even Victor Hugo seem modest by comparison. Anyway, Tach has learned that he will die of a rare cancer within two months and therefore grants interviews to a succession of journalists, whom he verbally humiliates one after the other--that is, until he encounters a young woman, who, through close reading of his entire literary corpus, has cleverly reconstructed some of Tach's own dark secrets. What follows is an explosive dialogue between this journalist and Tach, in which each is trying to verbally destroy the other. In the course of this fun, sometimes suspenseful back-and-forth, serious issues are at play: the great novelist as an object of sometimes entirely unjustified awe, how much moral leeway must we grant genius, what is the relationship between what a writer's life and his/her text, etc. And it all moves to a surprising, dramatic conclusion, albeit not one I found entirely satisfying. Still, an enjoyable read, and Nothomb's French is always accessible to a linguistic mediocrity like yours truly.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    A wonderful send up of the "enfant terrible" tradition in French literature. In content it reminded me (and might have been an influence) of a Danilo Kis story (translated in English as Literature and Balls or something); while, in tone, Croatian writer, Verdana Rudran's underappreciated novel "Night." Not sure of the chronology and the fact that Celine is mentioned repeatedly in the novel, but I had the feeling Nothomb might be taking a swipe at current "enfant terrible," Michel Houellebecq, th A wonderful send up of the "enfant terrible" tradition in French literature. In content it reminded me (and might have been an influence) of a Danilo Kis story (translated in English as Literature and Balls or something); while, in tone, Croatian writer, Verdana Rudran's underappreciated novel "Night." Not sure of the chronology and the fact that Celine is mentioned repeatedly in the novel, but I had the feeling Nothomb might be taking a swipe at current "enfant terrible," Michel Houellebecq, though I'm not sure Houellebecq had published his novels at the time this was written. (Nothomb, wrote this when she was 25, so I presume it was written before Houellebeq's most famous novels were published). It does have a feel of a debut novel--a young writer trying to say everything at once about literature, the pitfalls and cliches and faddishness for certain, historically recurring misogynist writers. Brilliant dialogue with some clever insights into the "bad faith" of certain popular writers. Nothomb's articulates the "stunted growth" theory stemming from the effects of childhood trauma,as well as the fear of female sexuality on the "bloated" egos of so-called literary "bad boys." A lot of great verbal sparring between Nina and the obese misanthropic protagonist Pretextat Tach, though you might see the ending coming a mile away. Very funny and entertaining. If you liked Gilbert Adair's "Death of the Author" you might enjoy this.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ricardo

    Simply phenomenal. It is part novel and part a philosophical reflection on the nature of literary, visual, and classical aesthetics. The story’s core character Pretext Tach, is a man of the highest aesthetic idealism but mystifies his true disposition by maintaining an outwardly cold, calculating harshness, objectivist, and naturalism to the point of being inhuman. This we find out is merely a fictional performance used by Pretext Tach to deduce which of the journalist that have came to interview Simply phenomenal. It is part novel and part a philosophical reflection on the nature of literary, visual, and classical aesthetics. The story’s core character Pretext Tach, is a man of the highest aesthetic idealism but mystifies his true disposition by maintaining an outwardly cold, calculating harshness, objectivist, and naturalism to the point of being inhuman. This we find out is merely a fictional performance used by Pretext Tach to deduce which of the journalist that have came to interview him on the eve of his death are worthy of his intellectual labor. Pretext Tach, in his disagreeableness baits his interlocutors to move beyond the state in which they have “read him without reading him” meaning that those who have read his work almost certainly mistake his idealist literature and aesthetic as metaphor when nothing else could be far from the truth. For Pretext Tach, everything is literal. Nothing is metaphor. And the idealist values he holds are not metaphorical symbols but objective beliefs about the external world. These beliefs will push him to the darkest actions to preserve those purist values concretely in a non ideal world. Amelie Nothomb’s capacity for articulation and discourse are second to none in contemporary fiction with this novel. Highly Recommend.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Maryam

    Oh my.. what a book, what a book! I definitely never read anything like that before. Before moving out from my previous neighbours I saw it by accident on the shelf. Both of my roomates praised it a lot, but since our tastes do not always overlap, I thought-whatever, let's give it a try. And I'm glad that I did. This book is crazy. A mysogine Nobel prize laureat in literature finds out that he's got 2 months to leave, and allows for the first time to be interviewed. That's why, as one might guess Oh my.. what a book, what a book! I definitely never read anything like that before. Before moving out from my previous neighbours I saw it by accident on the shelf. Both of my roomates praised it a lot, but since our tastes do not always overlap, I thought-whatever, let's give it a try. And I'm glad that I did. This book is crazy. A mysogine Nobel prize laureat in literature finds out that he's got 2 months to leave, and allows for the first time to be interviewed. That's why, as one might guess, the book is mostly the collection of dialogues. And considering that the guy is nothing but crazy, the dialogs are incredibly amusing. Inspite of the quaint plot, the book turns out to be real fun. I gave 4 stars because it had IMO a little annoying ending, not the ending itself, but the writing was excessively prolonged in the very end. Ah, and I think the one of the main characters (view spoiler)[ Nina-we know nothing about her? why on Earth was she searching archives about him? (hide spoiler)] wasn't well described. But otherwise, great book! As I already checked, it was translated to many languages, English included.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    Hygiene and the Assassin [1992] by Amélie Nothomb - ★★★★1/2 This is the best work of Nothomb I have read so far (after Sulphuric Acid [2005] and Fear and Trembling [1999]). In Hygiene and the Assassin, an aging famous novelist and Nobel Prize Laureate for Literature Prétextat Tach has agreed to give interviews after years of shielding and refusing to speak. A number of eager male journalists then line up to finally crack the mystery which is Prétextat Tach and his work. However, none of them expe Hygiene and the Assassin [1992] by Amélie Nothomb - ★★★★1/2 This is the best work of Nothomb I have read so far (after Sulphuric Acid [2005] and Fear and Trembling [1999]). In Hygiene and the Assassin, an aging famous novelist and Nobel Prize Laureate for Literature Prétextat Tach has agreed to give interviews after years of shielding and refusing to speak. A number of eager male journalists then line up to finally crack the mystery which is Prétextat Tach and his work. However, none of them expect a one of a kind psychological trial by fire and water they are about to undergo. Tach is not an easy-going person and his misanthropy, misogyny and racism soon become glaringly obvious. When one young woman also decides to try her luck at interviewing, Tach realises that he may have finally met his match. Although the short novel consists almost entirely of dialogues, Nothomb's writing feels like bullets being fired in its effectiveness, and one would need a bullet-proof jacket to get to the end. Darkly hilarious, controversially-themed and strangely original, this was a very strong literary debut coming from the then budding Belgian writer.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Edward Mellor

    A genius first novel. And a disgusting, rancid, smelly fat blob waste-of-space skid mark of a villain, brill. It feels like it loses its way towards the end, the final showdown is really bizarre and weird but I liked it xx

  19. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    There’s not much in this world more delicious than good dialogue. Banter, a back and forth that takes on a life its own, never feeling forced, driving a story to places you’d never expect to be taken. It’s not often a novel comprised of almost exclusively dialogue-driven passages has such a life to it, a three-dimensional quality that excessive detail would only hamper. But that’s exactly the situation with Nothomb’s Hygiene and the Assassin. This is the first of Nothomb’s works, published in 19 There’s not much in this world more delicious than good dialogue. Banter, a back and forth that takes on a life its own, never feeling forced, driving a story to places you’d never expect to be taken. It’s not often a novel comprised of almost exclusively dialogue-driven passages has such a life to it, a three-dimensional quality that excessive detail would only hamper. But that’s exactly the situation with Nothomb’s Hygiene and the Assassin. This is the first of Nothomb’s works, published in 1992 when she was 25 years old. In October of this year, Europa Editions released the English version of the text to North America, and it’s a hell of a translation. Conversational dialogue in small amounts lives or dies by the quality of its translation. In the case of Hygiene and the Assassin, the book itself is predicated on a tight rhythmic structure that required a pitch-perfect translation—which is exactly what it got. There’s not a word that doesn’t fit exquisitely with the flavour of the piece, which, to be honest, is sometimes difficult to stomach yet impossible to turn away from. The story is simple: an obese, misogynistic, hate-filled Nobel Prize winning recluse of an author is dying of cancer at a very late stage in life, having completed his life’s work (leaving one novel unfinished, as any self-respecting author should, he claims). The author, Prétextat Tach, decides to allow a small group of journalists to interview him—the first interviews he has ever had. None are prepared for the level of perversity inherent in this one individual. An example—Prétextat Tach on the persona of the Writer: “The hand is for pleasure. This is devastatingly important. If a writer is not having pleasure, then he must stop immediately. To write without pleasure is immoral. Writing already contains all the seeds of immorality. The writer’s only excuse is his pleasure. A writer who does not have pleasure is as disgusting as some bastard raping a little girl without even getting his rocks off, just for the sake of raping, to commit a gratuitously evil act.” One by one, the first few journalists are eviscerated by the reclusive author, and by the halfway point of the book’s sparse 167 pages, only one remains. Her name is Nina, and she knows more about the author than he would ever suspect. From this point on the book is a single, unbroken 90-page chapter as Nina and Prétextat tear each other apart in a beautifully choreographed verbal sparring. To say anything more would be a disservice. It is a disturbing book, a sometimes difficult to stomach read, but also one of the most compelling and expertly written stories I think I’ve ever read. I admit—I am a sucker for a conversation, and to have one build its momentum for nearly 90 pages, continuously increasing the level of animosity that exists between the two while simultaneously fostering a perverted respect that can only build between two people who want nothing more than to see the other left weak and without recourse, it was something special. This is the very definition of a one-sitting read. Highly recommended.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jens

    Sandrine Brisset has written a short an concise review of Hygiene and the Assasin which you can find over on stingingfly. I could not summarizing Northomb's novel better and particularly insightful is Brissets account of the author herself: Well aware of the public fascination for celebrities and the potential mystique of many writers, Amélie Nothomb fuelled the public’s curiosity by revealing details of her past and by drawing attention to similarities between her novels and her life. She told Sandrine Brisset has written a short an concise review of Hygiene and the Assasin which you can find over on stingingfly. I could not summarizing Northomb's novel better and particularly insightful is Brissets account of the author herself: Well aware of the public fascination for celebrities and the potential mystique of many writers, Amélie Nothomb fuelled the public’s curiosity by revealing details of her past and by drawing attention to similarities between her novels and her life. She told the world how she began to suffer from anorexia at the age of thirteen. Starvation was part of a strategy aimed at preventing the development of her body into puberty. This plan was also adopted by her sister who was two and a half years older. They feared separation: ‘We did it consciously because we did not want to become adults, we did not want an adult body.’ She evokes the singular intimacy and the passionate proximity which united both sisters in this intense fusional relationship. At the age of seventeen, she stopped starving herself and began writing. Her increasing intake of food unleashed a flood of written words. In a strange balancing act, she somehow took over from her older sister for whom the end of eating marked the end of writing. The writing gift was passed over to Amélie who claims she only publishes about a quarter of what she writes. She now describes herself as a ‘graphomaniac’ who needs to write for a minimum of four hours every day, without exception, and regardless of circumstances. She has written over seventy novels. I can only add that I was, at first, in love with the biting dialogue but it began to exhaust itself throughout the first half of the novel. Nothomb's lead character Prétextat can not keep up a consistent level of poignant criticism and in particular the journalists that are no more than mere lambs lead to slaughter before the Noble Laureate Prétextat, have exhausted themselves already after chapter one. I found myself thirsting for a worthy antagonist, which Nothomb introduces in the second half. Thus, the first half serves as a setting of stage for the second one, in which the the actual story unfolds. I do believe that much of the insulting and biting dialogue promises to be (even) more appropriate if one were to read the French original but then again, that might just be my preconception about swearing in French... Lastly, I would have liked to be in a better position to to judge Northomb's integration of two great French authors, Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Victor Hugo, into her story. Works of both authors are lying on my to-read shelf but are, alas, untouched at this point in time. If you have a soft spot for biting and at times witty dialogue, for characters and literary themes (and means) taken to absurdity and beyond then I recommend to give this book a try.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Not sure how I came accross this one. Someone wrote on the back, "Nothomb finds everything fascinating, and she takes us along an electric current of perception." Keyword: Perception. Sums this up some. A dying writer claims fame based on nobody having read him. Journalists flock to his cancerous body near his death, only to be turned away by his grotesque and disgusting self. Nina is prepared. She did all her homework and can navigate through all his dirt. She is a super effective stander. What Not sure how I came accross this one. Someone wrote on the back, "Nothomb finds everything fascinating, and she takes us along an electric current of perception." Keyword: Perception. Sums this up some. A dying writer claims fame based on nobody having read him. Journalists flock to his cancerous body near his death, only to be turned away by his grotesque and disgusting self. Nina is prepared. She did all her homework and can navigate through all his dirt. She is a super effective stander. What happens in this book is dialogue. What happens in this book, is Pretextat Tach invites us into his fantasy world to the point where I believed him. It's really miraculous that I could suspend disbelief that much, but it seems like so much is accounted for. The philosophy is so simple that it makes sense. Tach is living in a dream world and Nina cracks into the root of it. This is a journal disguised as a pyschological thriller disguised as genius. It is full of layers and makes me think about the people on this end of the spectrum and how I narrowly missed being one of them. This review makes about as much sense as the book. If anyone likes this book, I want to know what that says about your brain. I can't even say why is it is that I like it. It's a lot....

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Having enjoyed the film adaption of Nothomb's novel, Fear and Trembling, I picked up Nothomb's first novel, Hygiene de l'assassin. The central character is a Nobel-prize winning author dying of cancer who spars with various journalists interviewing him seriatim. He is also detestable: racist, sexist, egotistical, completely devoid of any social grace, and physically repulsive. Nothomb gives herself a nearly impossible task in trying to craft a novella with such a revolting person at its core. Co Having enjoyed the film adaption of Nothomb's novel, Fear and Trembling, I picked up Nothomb's first novel, Hygiene de l'assassin. The central character is a Nobel-prize winning author dying of cancer who spars with various journalists interviewing him seriatim. He is also detestable: racist, sexist, egotistical, completely devoid of any social grace, and physically repulsive. Nothomb gives herself a nearly impossible task in trying to craft a novella with such a revolting person at its core. Complicating Nothomb's task is that the book consists almost entirely of dialogue (which Nothomb does a good job of pulling off). Given the obstacles that Nothomb sets for herself, it is impressive that readers make it past the second page. Those who make it to the end of the story will be rewarded with an unexpected, but incoherent, twist. I heard an interview with Nothomb in which she said that she identified more with the detestable writer in this novel than with the young, female journalist who spars with him. It's hard for me to imagine how that might be true.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Doriana Bisegna

    Amelie Nothomb is a very quirky and different type of writer! Personally, I find her amusing and very inventive with her characters and stories! This one is a little out there but then again I was expecting something innovative anyway. She didn't disappoint me at all! Quick but very smart read. Amelie Nothomb is a very quirky and different type of writer! Personally, I find her amusing and very inventive with her characters and stories! This one is a little out there but then again I was expecting something innovative anyway. She didn't disappoint me at all! Quick but very smart read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This book was difficult to get into until the final chapter when it became much more interesting. The ending leaves me confused, though. Think I will need to read an analysis of this to fully understand.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Snort

    This remarkable novel is written almost entirely in dialogue, though 'relentless volleys of acerbic banter' may well be a superior description. At the centre of this unorthodox theatre, is the dying (and decaying) novelist Pretextat Tach - an absurd, reclusive prick. Preparing for his imminent death from the rare Elzenveiverplatz disease, he grants five journalists a rare audience. His motivations are unclear - is it to massage his hyper-inflated ego, or merely to entertain a bored man facing hi This remarkable novel is written almost entirely in dialogue, though 'relentless volleys of acerbic banter' may well be a superior description. At the centre of this unorthodox theatre, is the dying (and decaying) novelist Pretextat Tach - an absurd, reclusive prick. Preparing for his imminent death from the rare Elzenveiverplatz disease, he grants five journalists a rare audience. His motivations are unclear - is it to massage his hyper-inflated ego, or merely to entertain a bored man facing his last weeks? He is all too aware that his conversation, scrupulously measured and deliberately cutting, sets a sartorial standard few can match. Each of the journalists stride in, confident at brutal repartee... and yet they are systematically disposed off all too efficiently. Enters Nina, the only one who has read all 22 of his novels, or perhaps more significantly, the only female. All his novels are imaginatively christened - "The Prose of Epilation", "Crucification made Easy" and my favourite, "The Apology of Dyspepsia". She begins as a cheerful combatant, then ruthlessly shaves off layers of cold lard, revealing her agenda to reveal the inspiration behind his sole unfinished work, the intriguingly named "Hygiene and the Assassin". In the presence of such incisive wit, Pretetext is aroused in a state of rapture, and we are forced to pity his urgent, mundane human desire to find both meaning in life, and symmetry in death. There is a macabre twist, and despite Nina's frank repulsion at their unexpected frisson of understanding, the novel ends too neatly with her oddly sincere surrender to his masterful manipulation. Finally, an appreciative nod to Alison Anderson's stylish translation. I can only imagine the masterpiece this novel is in its native tongue; there must have been such faithful preservation of crisp pithiness, without which a novel like this can never work! Despite the cold and often clinical dialogue, one can feel an evasive sympathy sidling around the controversy of Pretextat Tach, which is the true genius of this work. Not to mention a whole new string of expletives to add to my armamentarium (Inveterate Prankster! Cynical Vivisectionist! Bloat Boil!). A disgustingly solid block of 5 stars.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    This book was most interesting. I can easily imagine it as a play, that draws you into the claustrophobia and intensity of the mind of the Tach. On one hand it is disgusting, and misogynistic. But then look around. Our culture IS more than a little like Monsieur Tach. And we, are like Nina. And I won't say more for fear of giving the plot away. Not that you won't figure out where it's going. But this book is about the unfolding, the journey, of realizing what is happening and marveling at the ma This book was most interesting. I can easily imagine it as a play, that draws you into the claustrophobia and intensity of the mind of the Tach. On one hand it is disgusting, and misogynistic. But then look around. Our culture IS more than a little like Monsieur Tach. And we, are like Nina. And I won't say more for fear of giving the plot away. Not that you won't figure out where it's going. But this book is about the unfolding, the journey, of realizing what is happening and marveling at the many ways in which we are all Tachs engaged in the destruction of the natural world and while refusing to deal with it in the mind, it plays out grotesquely in the body. I have had this for awhile and I'm glad I finally read it. It is disturbing, not fun, and that disturbance will nudge you. How you respond to the disturbance is up to your experience and your state of mind. But it will lead to a response.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Maud-Maylis

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. *3.5 Oh well. This was an amazing book with a plot that cannot be predicted, at least by someone who is sane and not seriously delusional, but that overall discusses themes that are so interesting to read about especially from the point of view of the main character. Example: are all authors that have been awarded Nobel Literature prizes assassins? What is the connection between true, pure love/ecstasy and killing? Should all women be killed when they get their first period? Overall this is defin *3.5 Oh well. This was an amazing book with a plot that cannot be predicted, at least by someone who is sane and not seriously delusional, but that overall discusses themes that are so interesting to read about especially from the point of view of the main character. Example: are all authors that have been awarded Nobel Literature prizes assassins? What is the connection between true, pure love/ecstasy and killing? Should all women be killed when they get their first period? Overall this is definitely a messed up story that was at times very uncomfortable to read and the last 50 pages were just random and unnecessarily confusing. The plot went in an almost celestial path that bordered in magical realism.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Vonia

    I admit the language use for the author's age when written, twenty-five, is impressive, but I still did not like the novel as a whole. I like a surreal, magical realism, even unbelievable read every so often, but this was a little much for me. There was a clear indication if creativity and ingenuity on the author's part but I did not find myself appreciating any of the characters. I look forward to seeing what else she has written. I admit the language use for the author's age when written, twenty-five, is impressive, but I still did not like the novel as a whole. I like a surreal, magical realism, even unbelievable read every so often, but this was a little much for me. There was a clear indication if creativity and ingenuity on the author's part but I did not find myself appreciating any of the characters. I look forward to seeing what else she has written.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kirk Johnson

    Certainly the book has its moments of brilliance, but too much of it is dialogue between two blustery souls talking too tough. How dreadful to be disappointed by a favorite author. But when the disappointment is the author's first book, preceding by only a year the splendid Loving Sabotage, all is forgiven, and quickly. Certainly the book has its moments of brilliance, but too much of it is dialogue between two blustery souls talking too tough. How dreadful to be disappointed by a favorite author. But when the disappointment is the author's first book, preceding by only a year the splendid Loving Sabotage, all is forgiven, and quickly.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ons Majouli

    omg !! i'm confuesed omg !! i'm confuesed

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