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The Mayor's Tongue April 7, 2009

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The Mayor's Tongue April 7, 2009.pdf | Language: UNKNOWN
    Nathaniel Rich(Author)

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Will be shipped from US. Used books may not include companion materials, may have some shelf wear, may contain highlighting/notes, may not include CDs or access codes. 100% money back guarantee.

Will be shipped from US. Used books may not include companion materials, may have some shelf wear, may contain highlighting/notes, may not include CDs or access codes. 100% money back guarantee.

3.3 (6483)
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Book details

  • PDF | Unknown pages
  • Nathaniel Rich(Author)
  • riverhead books; reprint edition (april 7, 2009) (1605)
  • Unknown
  • 2
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Review Text

  • By Roger Brunyate on April 23, 2013

    After some of my reading lately, I am in dire need of a book or two that is ordinary, that tells a realistic story straight through from beginning to end. This, alas, is not such a one. It begins clearly enough with a young man, Eugene, taking a job with a moving company in New York, and working for an elderly biographer to move his huge collection of memorabilia of the great American writer Constance Eakins (who, despite his first name, is a self-mythologizing man's man à la Hemingway). Eakins, who disappeared thirty years before, is supposed to have been sighted near Trieste, and Eugene is sent to Italy to find him, and also to track down the biographer's beautiful daughter who went off on her own accord. As a counterpoint, two other elderly characters will appear, Rutherford and Schmitz, two former GIs who bonded in the Anzio campaign. They too will head separately to Italy before the half-way point.The author, however, has been playing amusing tricks with language all along the way. Eugene, for example, has a room-mate named Alvaro from a valley in the Dominican Republic so isolated that its people speak a dialect nobody else can understand. Alvaro, who has written a novel in this language, gets Eugene to translate it, which he does even though he does not even know standard Spanish. This is analogous to the situation in one of Eakins' own stories, about a blind painter who so meticulously researched his subjects that, especially in his portraits, he could achieve an insight inaccessible to sighted artists. Eugene will meet an enthusiast for Esperanto -- a made-up language from the 1870s proposed as a universal tongue for all mankind -- who explains about a "region in inner China where people spoke a dialect of the language so evolved that it was incomprehensible to other Esperanto speakers." When Schmitz meets up with Rutherford in Italy, he finds his apartment covered with Post-It notes giving the word for everything. Only these are in English; in becoming fluent in Italian, Rutherford has entirely lost the use of his native tongue. Whether dealing with miraculous communication or its failure, it is clear that Nathaniel Rich has been reading his Borges.So far, so good. But the doings in the last hundred pages largely lost me. Most of the characters congregate in the Carso, aka the Slovenian Karst, a vast limestone plateau behind Trieste, riddled with caves and hidden rivers and enfolding its own culture. Rich takes advantage of this strange environment to create a literary and linguistic space-and-time-warp, in which fictional characters consort with real ones, to the point where (for this reader at least) even reality becomes suspect, and language has very little meaning.I think my next book choice will be an ordinary detective story.

  • By Hans W. Glogauer on June 9, 2013

    Various characters think, dream and imagine. Each one is clearly brought to life and they all search for something: love, a favorite author, a woman, a way of life. Their dreams, their imagination or their writing converge towards an idyllic place, isolated somewhere in Italy. The mood is fairytale-like and anything is possible. They don't always find what they are looking for but whatever they find, it seems to bring them peace. I was immersed in this story (or these stories) until the end. My compliments to the young author.

  • By Josh on January 27, 2018

    The blending of two characters' stories as they traveled from New York to Italy becomes confusing, but I think that is Rich's intent. There is a blurring of the lines between fiction and reality, with the actual fictional characters of whom the fictional authors are writing come to life. They make up an entire city in the case of one author. I was intrigued enough to finish it, but sometimes the reader felt as lost as the characters.

  • By Blake Carter on July 10, 2013

    The title of this review says it all. I liked the first half of the book and couldn't put it down. The second half of the book got really weird and I couldn't wait to put it down.

  • By Bill Petillo on September 2, 2009

    This novel alternates between two different story lines. They never intersect. One peters out and goes nowhere. The other becomes ridiculous. Very disappointing.

  • By 1morechapter on November 18, 2009

    Eugene is a mover in New York City whose favorite author is Constance Eakins. While doing a job one day, he runs into a biographer of Eakins who also happens to have a beautiful daughter, Sonia. Everyone else in the world believes Eakins is dead -- that he just disappeared in Italy quite a few years back and never showed up again. He's legally declared dead by the Italian authorities. Sonia's father, the biographer, demands that it isn't so -- that his daughter speaks to Eakins regularly. But, no one has heard from her after her latest trip to Italy. Eugene decides to look for Sonia.Meanwhile in a parallel story, an elderly Mr. Schmitz, also a New Yorker, is grieving the loss of his friend Rutherford who has just moved to Italy. He receives lucid letters from Rutherford at first, but then they become more and more incomprehensible. Schmitz also decides to take off for Italy to look for his friend.This was a bizarre story that was unique enough to keep me reading and wanting to find out more. The book has quite a few fantasy elements too, and that was unexpected, but it certainly added to the story. It's definitely a different book.This is Nathaniel Rich's first novel.

  • By Mark Keshishian on April 22, 2008

    I first became aware of Nathaniel Rich when I read his brilliant piece on Pier Paolo Pasolini in the New York Review of Books (9/27/2007). It's the only piece the NYRB has ever published on Pasolini, and that said something important to me. The NYRB doesn't mess around. So I kept my eye out for him after that, and he rarely, if ever, disapointed. A great piece on Will Self in the New York Times Book Review comes to mind, as well as some great interviews -- with J.T. Leroy and Stephen King -- in the Paris Review. And if you like film noir, as I do, his book on San Francisco Noir is a gem. But with this book, the Mayor's Tongue, he takes his talent to a new level. This kid Rich -- what is he, 25? 26? -- writes like a man twice his age. When he takes you up the cliffs of northern Italy, your palms will get sweaty. And when he riffs his way through the history of the insurance business in Hartford, seemingly ad-libbing his way back to the early 19th century, you will laugh your head off and wonder: is this stuff true? Or is he making this up? Or both? This book is funny and moving and crazy and inventive and weird, weird in the good way, the way that keeps you up at night wondering what all his fantastic characters -- dozens of them! -- are doing right now, where they're hiding, who they're sleeping with. I'll never forget Mr. Schmitz. Mr. Schmitz will stay with me forever.


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