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THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Shapiro, Rochelle: Author interview | Main | Baty, Chris: No Plot? No Problem »

Auster, Paul: Oracle Night

  

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Picador © 2003, 243 pages [amazon]
5 stars

Writing twenty years after the fact, the narrator of Paul Auster's Oracle Night tells readers in detail about a nine-day period in his life, in 1982, that began with his purchase of a particular blue notebook, unusual for having been made in Portugal. The narrator, novelist Sidney Orr, is recovering from a near fatal illness at the time of the purchase, and he hasn't written anything for months, but the graph-paper pages of the notebook inspire him and he writes in it feverishly for hours on end, transported by the notebook such that he becomes wholly unaware of his surroundings. Sidney writes a story about a certain Nick Bowen, an editor at a successful publishing house who responds to a nearly fatal freak accident by abandoning his life and setting out to a randomly selected location, Kansas. He takes with him only what he happens to have been carrying, a manuscript of a previously unknown work--entitled Oracle Night--by a long dead novelist. Nick reads the manuscript repeatedly, and Sidney's would-be readers (and Auster's real-life readers) are told the story of this Oracle Night, that is, the novel within the story within Auster's novel.

In addition to the principal stories mentioned above--Sidney's own story told twenty years hence, his short story, the novel within that story--other tales are slipped into the narrative--the reminiscences of various characters, stories told second-hand, Sidney's account of his courtship of his wife, delivered in footnotes.Auster's Oracle Night, as the above suggests, is a Russian nesting doll of a novel. In addition to the principal stories mentioned above--Sidney's own story told twenty years hence, his short story, the novel within that story--other tales are slipped into the narrative--the reminiscences of various characters, stories told second-hand, Sidney's account of his courtship of his wife, delivered in footnotes. In some cases we are given cause to doubt the veracity of the stories, thus removing them that much further from the present "reality" in which narrator Sidney Orr is writing his account. (There is cause too, I think, for doubting Sidney's own story, which may be the point of the whole exercise.) What is remarkable about Auster's book, apart from this clever nesting of tales, is that each of the stories one encounters in the novel is so compelling, so vivid in the telling, even the brief ones, that one tends to forget while reading them that they are part of a larger whole. Written in deceptively simple prose, Auster's novel is a complex rumination on truth and storytelling, interesting enough to read in a single sitting, complicated enough to inspire late-night dorm room conversations about what he's really getting at.

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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.