Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


The ratings:
5 stars  excellent
4 stars  very good
3 stars  good
2 stars  fair
1 stars  poor

Blog stats:

Navigate the site:

Books by the Blogger:

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


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

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


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

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


paperback | Kindle | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

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


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

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


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

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


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

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


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

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


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

Advertise: Rates & stats

Authors & publishers:
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:

  

« Caudron, Shari: Who Are You People? | Main | Harris, Bob: Prisoner of Trebekistan »

Fasman, Jon: The Geographer's Library

  

Printer-friendly page! Use print preview to see how this page will appear.

Penguin © 2005, 374 pages [amazon]
3 stars

When the story told in Jon Fasman's The Geographer's Library begins, Paul Tomm, a recent graduate of Wickenden University in Rhode Island, is working as a reporter at a weekly paper. Lincoln, Connecticut is a sleepy, two-policeman town, and Paul's job is consequently routine--until he is assigned to write up the obituary of a certain Jaan Pühapäev, a reclusive Lincoln resident who was also a history professor at Paul's alma mater. The more Paul investigates the obsessively private Pühapäev's life, the more unusual his subject appears to have been: Pühapäev was wont, for example, to carry a loaded gun to campus, and the University responded with unexpected leniency on the two occasions when he fired it from his office window. No one in Lincoln or at Wickenden seem to have known much about Pühapäev, the single exception being Pühapäev's neighbor Hannah Rowe, the pretty, young teacher with whom Paul becomes romantically involved. Paul's other hangers-on in the story include courtly Professor Abe Jadid, also of Wickenden University; Jadid's nephew Joe, a policeman; and Paul's supportive boss Art Rolen, who is eager to see Paul use the Pühapäev case as a stepping stone in his career.

The more Paul investigates the obsessively private Pühapäev's life, the more unusual his subject appears to have been: Pühapäev was wont, for example, to carry a loaded gun to campus, and the University responded with unexpected leniency on the two occasions when he fired it from his office window.The text of The Geographer's Library purports to be Paul's first-person account of his investigation of the Pühapäev matter, written at the behest of a mysterious "H." Interspersed throughout his account are sixteen historical chapters. Each details some episode in the usually blood-soaked history of an artefact of significance to alchemists (a playing card, a carved wooden triptych, etc.), and ends with a more formal valuation of the object. The artefacts so detailed do not figure directly in the story Paul tells, but they are connected with the secret of Pühapäev's death.

The alternation between Paul's account and these intervening historical chapters makes for a schizophrenic novel. Unfortunately, the two different types of chapters differ from one another in more than subject matter. The historical chapters, perhaps surprisingly, are by far the more interesting in the book. They are well-written, vividly imagined self-standing pieces that quickly grab the reader's interest and very often end with a surprise buried in the formal description of the artefact under discussion. Paul's account, on the other hand--the meat of the book--is comparatively poorly written. The dialogue is often stilted and unnatural.

"I won't pry too much by asking you about this music teacher, but if you're fond enough to blush over her, it must be something indeed. Good luck."
"Thank you."
Certain details in the story don't ring true. (After knowing Jadid for years, for example, Paul has never asked him about, or heard about from other students, the origin of the Professor's unusual accent? History departments employ their own night watchmen?) Some passages in the book don't seem to have any point to them (Paul's stop at a Portuguese bar at which he's refused service; his four-page conversation with an old girlfriend). None of Fasman's characters is developed enough to inspire emotional attachment. And Paul is never placed in any jeopardy worthy of the name: he may be frightened at various points in the story, that is, but the reader is never frightened for him. Finally, Fasman's story is just not very interesting. This is a shame, because as the historical chapters of the book make clear, he can write well, and he's clearly done his research for the book. There is a kernel of a very good story here which I wish additional rounds of editing had brought further to light.

Review summary: Paul Tomm, a recent graduate of Wickenden University, is working as a reporter at a weekly paper in sleepy Lincoln, Connecticut. The job is routine until Paul is assigned to write the obituary of Jaan Pühapäev, a reclusive Lincoln resident who was also a Wickenden professor. No one seem to have known much about Pühapäev, with the exception of Pühapäev's neighbor Hannah, with whom Paul becomes romantically involved. The text of The Geographer's Library purports to be Paul's account of his investigation of the Pühapäev matter. Interspersed throughout his account are sixteen historical chapters, each of which details an episode in the history of an artefact of significance to alchemists. The historical chapters are well-written, vividly imagined self-standing pieces that grab the reader's attention. Paul's account is comparatively poorly written. The dialogue is stilted; certain details don't ring true; and Fasman's characters aren't developed enough to inspire emotional attachment.

Tags: , , ,

< Tweet it! | Reblog
https://www.book-blog.com/2006/10/fasman_jon_the_.html
Book-blog.com reviews by Debra Hamel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Comments




Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In


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.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






The Sunday Salon.com



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