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The Escape Last time I read Adam thirlwell I said a lot of nice things about him those all still apply For example I compared him to milan kundera then kundera must have found out cause he blurbed this book This is adam growing up a bit from politics it's convoluted in the kundera way where your head hurts and you feel lost for like 6 chapters but eventually the book works itself out and all starts to make sense It feels like there are so many details that you can't remember but they all seem important It's a generally hard book to readWhen I was reading it at first I worried that I've gotten stupider with my recent lack of taste as some coworkers call it but then I remembered most books like this I felt this way about even when I only read pretentious books I mean I remember reading the introduction to the unbearable lightness of being like 6 times till someone told me to just read the rest of the book and not worry about understanding all of it I've read the first chapter of finnegans wake an embarassing number of times at least 4 or 5 of which were one right after the other It's not that I don't follow completely cause I've gotten stupider I've just always been this stupid This was one of those books for me I think the book is really reminiscent of kundera's agnes specifically and irvin yalom It's about a fight to become which occurs at the same point as a fight against inevitable erasure view spoilerand the trajectory in this book becomes very strange because for haffner identity has become wrapped up in love but specifically in unreuited love and his position as the unknown victim of unreuited love hide spoiler Adam Thirlwell famously loves Milan Kundera and according to the dust jacket of The Escape Kundera loves him back They are very similar in many ways Most significantly that both write novels of ideas where aspects of the human condition are put under the microscope with characters the agents in the argument as well as the drivers of the action Through careful organisation a complex subject is tackled from many angles and illuminated by them In Haffner Thirlwell's central character we have a non practising Jew seeking some kind of escape through extra marital affairs and sexual encounters and also through sublime escapes into music This is underscored by a storyline of him attempting to rea appropriate his wife's family villa which had been annexed by the state following the second world war So lots of escapes then and a conclusion that reveals much about man's pursuit of escape need for sanctuary and ultimate inability to do soSounds great eh? And it isn't bad But where Kundera deserts his characters for pure essay in a bold stylistic move akin to Diderot or even Tolstoy Thirlwell takes a integrated subtle line Now while I am all for subtlety part of the absolute charm of Kundera is his audacity in dumping characters His plots can be dissolved or shelved almost at whim meaning you never forget his metafictive hand in what he is trying to achieve Even when his characters get in to extreme dramatic or comic situations you are aware of this lack of authorial distance but cannot shake the excitement The Escape does not complete the vault face it would like to as you settle fairly instantly into the I am writing in the style of Kundera routine and the plot for the most part despite clear orchestration to the contrary fails to grip or exciteIf Milan Kundera had written Augie March he would have come up with something like this But not thisDespite that Thirlwell is a developing writer with oodles of talent I love his inspirations but would prefer him to find a voice that is a little him and less Kundera I would rather read something like this than a book without ambition and this is a great step forward from Politics his previous novel There are some lines that will stay with you long after as well as some set ups of the argument if not set pieces of action an odd but extraordinarily well written book about a man who has spent his life pursuing women and can't turn it off even though especially now inhis 70's his charmsappetites cause chaos and problems and also because some time ago he realized that he only really loved his exnow dead wife There are many little surprises during his adventures in trying to get his wife's family property back after wars and other government takeovers Excellent well constructed literary thenatics Haffner is charming morally suspect sexually omnivorous vain possessed of hair than is his natural right He is British and Jewish and a widower But when was Haffner ever really married Or Jewish When was he ever attached There are so many stories of Haffner but this the most secret is the greatest of them all An excellent novel by a fine writer It’s astonishing how successfully he draws out a story about an old Jewish lecher and his relationships with his deceased wife his living son and a young Balkan woman who works in his hotel I don’t know how he does it and I don’t know how many people would be able to get through it but I found it just as captivating as the best of Roth and in similar ways But actually Thirlwell’s not that similar a writer despite the subject matter This is not an old man’s book despite its subject and it was gutsy of Thirlwell to try was it to show Roth it could be done without any autobiography or games? Thirlwell’s games are all literary not postmodern or extraliterary You finished? He asked Benjamin You full? I don't finish when I feel full said Benjamin proudly What kind of person finishes when they're full? Me I finish when I hate myself That's the treasured moment 229Incisive portrait of the twilight years of a WWII generation libertine and his grandson with exploration of the escape theme on several levels escape from war marriage convention Crackling dialogue very funny Complex structure with interspersed flashbacks frame narrator skillfully done I'm not a speed reader but I generally like to read my books at a reasonable pace if not a gallopJust a few pages into this one and I can tell it will take me much longer than the norm Each sentence is prose poetry each paragraph an immersion into sticky treacle thick delicious but not easy to digest in a hurry But why hurry anyway? Something very old fashioned about this book Very well written by obviously a very bright chap Struggled in parts but once I surrendered to the authors voice I got it and really enjoyed the ride Cant say I loved it but will press the LIKE button Buying this book was obviously a mistakeIts readying is completely uninteresting

About the Author: Adam Thirlwell

Adam Thirlwell was born in 1978 and grew up in North London He is a fellow of All Souls College Oxford and assistant editor of Areté magazineHis first novel 'Politics' a love story with digressions was published in 2003 and his second book 'Miss Herbert A Book of Novels Romances & Their Unknown Translators Containing Ten Languages Set on Four Continents & Accompanied by Maps Portraits

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