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The Gift of Shamanism yIficant but amount mostly to clutter not perspective and much less real insightAt times I felt like Mr Hallberg was fulfilling a list of reuirements for an ambitious novel about the 70s Race check Abortion check Punk rock check Redevelopment and gentrification check Then there s the three page chapters chronological hopscotch smattering of extra textual elements this is an exceptionally fussy and mannered book There is never any doubt as to Mr Hallberg s intelligence there is some uestion as to his ability to make his ambition serve the needs of a truly great book that he may indeed have in himThe final nail in this coffin of exhaustion was for me the all inclusive plot Here we haveet another shaggy dog tale culminating in the convergence of characters and the careful parceling out of information at prearranged intervals I don t know why these kinds of stories are still regarded by some as inherently profound like everything s connected man Does the novelist forget that a narrative comes together by his own hand and that the reader knows and expects this And does he think that the end of the book can excuse the rest of it Setting the climax during a historic notable event does not imbue a novel with importanceCome fall hell now already Direct Use of the Sun’s Energy you will see a lot of breathless excitement about City On Fire It certainly has the elements we ve come to expect of a literary blockbuster But like The Art of Fielding which I hasten to add is a MUCH worse book than this one City On Fire is the kind of tome that now makes me suspicious of big advances and lockstep marketing campaigns The power in these coronations lies not with the writer and his prowess but with those bestowing their great favor and let s not forget money upon him City On Fire indeed heralds a great talent but it isn t a great bookBest of luck inour future endeavors Mr Hallberg Couldn t make it past the prologue Two characters took about 50 pages to move a Christmas tree across the crosswalk I don t care how big the buzz is life is too short I can t just can t read this any It is hanging over my head like Damocles sword Have read half but I just don t care enough about any of these characters to continue Yes it is well written but way to wordy and just not for me a good fit I am so darned relieved to be done City on Fire was marketed as one of the biggest book releases of 2015 Garth Risk Hallberg s 900 page debut novel sold to the publisher for a whopping 2 million has been likened to Donna Tartt s The Goldfinch and Jennifer Egan s A Visit from the Goon Suad And while I see the similarities I think Hallberg s doesn t uite stack up to either of these novelsLet s disregard the fact that The Definition of Icing (Dallas Demons, yes this book is incredibly well written Hallberg understands language He writes with precision with big ideas and at times even bigger words Not to toot my own horn but I feel like I have a fairly wide vocabulary Hallberg either is a walking dictionary or had one at his side while writing this for there were dozens of occasions in which I had to stop and look up a word and as an avid reader that doesn t happen too often I appreciated that though when every single character has the author s vocabulary it drew me out of the storyHallberg has a strong hold on the sentence But perhaps too strong I have to agree with another reviewer who said that she couldn t read without being aware of the author s presence While the story was engaging it wasn t absorbing enough to forget thatou are indeed reading a story not experiencing it And what the two books I mentioned earlier did for me was deliver a book that was than a book they were experiencesI will applaud Hallberg for writing a 944 page novel that rarely drags With a mix of eclectic and well thought out characters along with a nicely paced and mysterious plot I was always compelled to read on I loved almost every character s perspective And the 3rd person omniscience with the free indirect speech which I am a fan of though others find it plodding and meandering writing reminded me at times of Yanagihara s stellar A Little Life Sadly there are few other comparisons to make between Hallberg s novel and the formerUltimately I found comparisons to make between Hallberg s novel and the formerUltimately I found ending to be satisfying but in that way that left me little to chew on It was all wrapped up with a pretty bow at the end and I was left without anything to rip open and examine further I d still recommend this one to those courageous enough to take on this nearly 1000 page novel Perhaps ou ll find something within and maybe my own re reading not for a long while though would provide deeper insight I m sure there is much I missed and I will miss these characters and their stories I only wish I was left with less perfection and of the raw gritty reality that is presented elsewhere in the book 35 stars I survived City on Fire No matter what else I read in 2016 I feel a sense of accomplishment after finishing this dense sprawling 900 page tomeFor it is dense and sprawling Comparisons to Dickens and Pynchon and David Foster Wallace and hell even Shakespeare are apt The plot is so complicated it defies summary There is a punk group on a mission there is a rich family embroiled in a corruption scandal there is an honest cop close to retirement there are estranged lovers there is a girl who was shot there is an angry father there is a prodigal son and there is a journalist trying to uncover the truth father there is a prodigal son and there is a journalist trying to uncover the truth everything comes to a head during the July 1977 blackout in New York CityThis is a novel so crammed with stuff that it took me a while before I started to like it Sure my expectations had been raised because Garth Risk Hallberg had inspired a bidding war for this debut ending up with a 2 million advance I know it s crazy Also I made the mistake of listening to this on audio which I would not recommend because the print version makes better sense of all the ephemera and found objects including letters and zines and diary entriesIn short I would recommend this novel if ou like epic stories that make ou work a little harder It s a book I will need to reread to fully appreciate Favorite uotesThe reason we will need to reread to fully appreciate Favorite uotesThe reason we say anything we want in America is that we know it makes no differenceAnd she learned that ou couldn t stockpile anything that mattered really Feelings people songs sex fireworks they existed only in time and when it was over so were theyThe Lonliest Man in the World she said only has room in his heart for one person and if he can t have that person he locks himself away He tells himself no one could possibly love him but really it s that he refuses to love anyone else. Rio americano E em meio a tudo isso um crime ue vai cruzar suas vidas de forma imprevisível e irremediávelCombinando o ritmo de um thriller ao escopo dos grandes épicos da literatura Garth Risk Hallberg constrói um meticuloso retrato de uma metrópole em transformação Dos altos salões do poder às ruelas do subúrbio ele captura a explosão social e artística ue definiu uma década e transformou o mundo para sempre Cidade em chamas é um romance inesuecível sobre amor traição e perdão sobre arte e punk rock Sobre pessoas ue precisam umas das outras para sobreviver E sobre o ue faz a vida valer a pe. ,

F this novelThen at about the 60% mark the bottom fell outI can t uite pinpoint the reason why the book started tanking for me but it seemed as if Hallberg was dithering about how to end the thing I never confused this for a mystery or thriller it s nothing of the sort really but each time he d hover close to a suitable climax and denouement he d retrace his steps and rehash key plot points I m sure this is the tritest criticism ever but if ever a book earned it City on Fire is the one this book is in desperate need of a competent editor one allowed to excise the fat When I mentioned to a friend that Hallberg is in love with his own writing it s the seeming absence of an editor I was referring to The veterans of the doorstop novel Norman Mailer Stephen King etal may ve gotten away with getting their manuscripts published with a minimum of editing but a relatively cachet less read formerly novel less author like Hallberg Leaving in all this fat can only lead the cynical reader to point the finger at Knopf for inflating the page count A 300 page cut could ve made this a masterpieceI purposely haven t mentioned the plot as it takes a backseat to the crisply rendered vision of a city at the verge of upheaval There is a good one though coursing beneath the brilliant prose and beautifully ugly backdrop There s way too much to concisely mention but using the real life July 13 1977 Blackout of NYC as a fulcrum of sorts to balance upon Hallberg has enlisted a solid cast of characters as instruments some unwitting some actively involved in that upheaval There s the gay African American aspiring novelist and NYC transplant from backwoods Georgia Mercer Goodman Billy Three Sticks aka William Hamilton Sweeney III Mercer s punker boyfriend whose up and coming band Ex Post Facto s biggest hit City on Fire provides the book its title the musically talentless Nicky Chaos another punker whose nihilistic machinations form an SDSSLA esue group bent on changing the world called PHP or Post Humanistic Phalanstery Samantha Cicciaro a Long Island NYU student photographer fanzine publisher and daughter of one the few original fireworkers those that run elaborate fireworks displays Richard the journalist whose essay on the origins of fireworking uncovers a much deeper and far reaching story Charlie the asthmatic 15 Three Barnyard Tales year old Long Islander who desperately wants to get out from under his overbearing mother s wingOkay I thinkou get the picture there s so much going on here Hallberg s undertaking is hugeand than a little Sisyphean there s so much going on it s impossible to tie up every loose end I admire Hallberg s fortitude and vision which is epic in scope I can see why bidding wars arose over this I as well after reading half of this wanted to exalt it to all even the skeptics Alas with all the aborted endings and untrimmed fat the best I can do is warn readers not to expect perfection There s enough of a slow burn to make City on Fire a worthwhile read but it s certainly not the be all end all novel the first half portended The it book this fall is City on Fire a 911 page debut by an unknown writer named Garth Risk Hallberg Yes Risk is literally his middle name but it s his publisher that s taking a chance here Having reportedly paid nearly 2 million for the manuscript Knopf must be praying that City on Fire is worth its weight in Goldfinch Such irrational exuberance can t buy a spot on the bestseller list but it can guarantee coverage So prepare A Short History of Ireland, 1500-2000 yourself for what passes for a book publicity juggernaut Over the next few weeksou ll read about this novel everywhere and If an Elephant Went to School you ll hear theoung author interviewed on NPR and Morse Code for Radio Amateurs you ll see pyramids of City on Fire atour local bookstore And at some point The Ideal Muslim Society you ll wonder Should I read this novel or three others That decision may hinge onour stamina but City on Fire is an extraordinary performance Radiating Linux Networking Cookbook youthful bravado that will make older authors sniff with contempt or sweat with envy Hallberg has conjured what he calls the muchness of New York City in the late 1970s He calculates the sum of thousands of variations all jockeying for the same spot Like Tom Wolfe but with less nervous energy and stylistic elegance Hallberg climbs uickly up and down the economic ladder He inhabits the minds of whites and blacks men and women old andoung ga To read the rest of this review go to The Washington Posthttpswwwwashingtonpostcomentert Boy I wanted to like this bookGarth Risk Hallberg is certainly a writer of exceptional promise and unmistakable ability There are passages in City On Fire that sublimely evoke New York City portraying the Big Apple s magnetism and its monstrous shadow so effectively as to make it feel like Marcus Garvey you re walking the streetsourself The amount of detail conjured in these pages is freuently astonishingAnd FRIENDLY ENEMIES yet why Why must the writer tell us for example the relative size of an heirloom mattress and what it took to move it into an apartmentears before Mr Hallberg does not know how much is too much 900 pages is a marvelous length but no matter how artfully the words are assembled on them they still need to convince the reader they are Absolutely Essential On This Account essential On this account On Fire fails miserably As a steak the novel is riddled with gristleWould this were the only problem But the novel is structured primarily as a limited omniscient third person account from the perspective of its individual characters Try as he might Mr Hallberg cannot inhabit his characters individually His diction is out of control So much so that Amok yes I find the exclamation point necessary It s such a glaring problem I m rather shocked it wasn t addressed further in editing On almost every page he makes specific word choices and digressions of description that take the reader out of the story At no time in the book did I believe I was hearing anything other than the novelist s voice and most of the time that novelist was hovering in my ears like a drunk mosuitoProbably 20% of this novel is what I call a word salad sophisticated jumbles of vocabulary arranged in a semblance of meaning It all sounds impressive but whenou get to thinking about what ou ve just read it doesn t hold up Mr Hallberg does not know what to leave out The effect is to flatter the writer not to envelop or transport the readerAlong similar lines the assertions and summations Mr Hallberg makes of his characters for his characters are freuently Mr Hallberg makes of his characters for his characters are freuently than credible when considered for even a moment As a reader I uickly grow tired of being asked to swallow generalizations wholesale Again these sound sign. Em meio às infidelidades do marido Ele a ovelha negra fundador de uma mitológica banda punk artista plástico recluso e figura lendária das artes nova ioruinas Ao redor dos dois gira uma constelação de tipos e acasos A jovem fotógrafa ue descobre um influente movimento musical pelas ruas da cidade O jovem professor negro e gay ue chega do interior e se apaixona pelo misterioso artista O grupo de ativistas ue pode ou não estar levando longe demais o sonho de derrubar o establishment O garoto careta e asmático ue se apaixona pela punk indomável O repórter ue sonha ser o novo nome do jornalismo literá. For the most part this book was totally worth 2 million dollars and it s definitely worth the cover price of 3000 but damn it s hard to review at its most reductive it s a multi viewpoint novel told from the perspective of several characters living in new ork during 77 culminating in that summer s blackout it s a panoptic of the ultra wealthy and the suatters the artists and musicians and revolutionaries gay and straight old and Crochet young black and white and asian uptown and downtown police and criminals both white collar and otherwise journalists and teachers sex and drugs and rock and roll and on and etc the narrative axis around which the separate stories spiral out is the shooting of a teenage girl in central park on newears eve but although that event does serve as an anchor it s hardly the main focus this is not a mystery HOW TO READ THIS BOOKAfter page 350 I decided to skip all the passages which bored the bejeesus out of me As there were uite a considerable number of those getting through the next 550 pages became a whole lot easier even occasionally enjoyable Even so I feel like I need someone to come and defibrillate me HOISTED WITH HIS OWN PETARDOn page 617 we read She seemed to like exactly those things he found most irksome about The New York Review of Books its unapologetic boringness its privileged hostility to privilegeThis seems to describe perfectly the army of fans this novel has Let me run that by Playhouse you again She seemed to like exactly those things he found most irksome about City on Fire its unapologetic boringness its privileged hostility to privilegeMan is this book unapologetically boring Fiction is sometimes described as life with the boring bits left out But the way to tell ifou re reading literary fiction is that they stick all the boring bits back in Still I got no one to blame but myself If I want plot I can reread Gone Girl rightHOW BORING IS BORING For instance the zine A bunch of the characters in the book are anarcho punks that s to say punks with political pretensions and teenage insights on our woeful rat bastard capitalist world Maybe ou can remember when ou sat around vowing to smash the state and eat the rich If not Mr Hallberg is here to remind Desire and Deceive you of whatou missed all the embarrassing posturing and useless gestures and unpleasant sex So we get the complete reproduced 30 page 1976 punk zine called Land of 1000 Dances and it s as authentically toe curling as they all really were It s kinda cute to see stuck in the middle of a big serious literary thing but still Dannys Dragon (Tao of Love, you read the actual words atour peril It s the kind of reading which could make Household Gods you bulimicAoung Shane McGowan and his rad zines 1976A PARAPLEGIC TURTLETom Wolfe s well known novel The Bonfire of the Vanities is not an unfair comparison that one is also vast 700 pages set in New York City panoramic know it all and also has a plot propelled by a single crime And it s a page turner reason being that it s funny Okay perhaps that is an unfair comparison because Garth Hallberg is not funny I purely hope he s not trying to be anyway because there is not the merest trace of the flicker of a wan grin to be had in the entire thing far as I could see So if it s a grown up serious novel then City on Fire has to be very compelling for other reasons but instead it just seeps and sogs and backtracks always backtracks It inches forwards at the speed of a paraplegic turtle and then comes to MANY LURCHING DEAD STOPS THE lurching dead as the inserts 30 or 40 pages of back story about each and every character Mr Hallberg believes that his characters are all infinitely interesting But the 17 Maos Little Red Book year old dopey but bright Charlie Weisbarger or the hipster reporter Richard Groskoph or the overreaching financier Keith Lam Five reasons for 5 stars1 I had read 177 pages of this physical heavy weight book I own it Then I saw that my library carried this audiobook it was availableso change of plans Instantly I recognized Rebecca Lowman as one of the main narrators I began to melt into REBECCA LOWMAN BLISS Rebecca adds life to the language and brings the characters alive 2 Rebecca Lowman s voice is so sincere warm and realI m interested in anything she talks about It was because of Rebecca I experienced the lovely floaty feeling writing by Garth Risk Hallberg3 I did float No I wasn t on drugsbutou tell meyou wouldn t float elevate in body and soul resting on the couch eyes closed being read to by this lovely voice I don t usually float when I m reading a novelbut the impossible happened During my walks I couldn t float but this storytelling kept me interested walking imagining peacock feathers Regan in costume and her outrageous mask for a gala Charlie who is so deliciously in love with Samall of 17 ears of his age microphones music bartenders Christmas lights punks to love 4 The short chapters helps makes this book inviting The letters in the book are what the author calls interludes having the physical book with the audio is a great combination and I got a kick with the graphics artwork and photosand reading the letters 5 New York City 70 s clubbing guitars buzz cut city on fire freedom dreamersAudiobook 5 starsRebecca Lowman 5 starsGarth Risk Hallberg 45 starsOverall 5 stars Big kicking bootstattooslove sex punk rock music fireworks a shootingBLACKOUT distorted gorgeous trippy writingseveral characters looking for love others for friendship others to escape pain I LOVED THE DREAM LIKE floaty EXPERIENCEwhich came from the prose delivered soooo LOVELY by REBECCA LOWMANFinal conclusion The audiobook heightened the enjoyment should I repeat it againha I can already feel the sting from the glances of side eyed skepticism and even scepticism as I type this that for 600 pages anyway City on Fire the massively hyped crazy uilt pastiche of a doorstopper was this close to earning a spot on my imaginary Favorites shelf I was utterly enraptured by Garth Risk Hallberg s swirly sweaty portrait of NYC in the mid to late 70 s Even with the pretentious slathering of the most obscure words of the English language I flew through the pages as if they were popcorn buttered Even as Hallberg kept gumming up the works by rolling out character after character all interesting if not likable into the fray even as the forward flow of the narrative kept being hijacked by being shifted into reverse seemingly at Hallberg s whim even as I kept feeling Hallberg was liberally borrowing from the styles of Pulitzer Prize winners and NYC veterans Jennifer Egan Donna Tartt Don Delillo Tom Wolfe to dangle as award bait I still could not get enough Nova York 1976 O sonho hippie acabou e dos escombros surge uma nova cultura urbana Saem as mensagens de paz e amor e as camisetas tingidas entram as guitarras desafinadas os acordes raivosos e os coturnos caindo aos pedaços Por toda a cidade brotam galerias de arte e casas de show esfumaçadas É nesse cenário ue Garth Risk Hallberg situa esta obra colossal aclamada pela crítica como uma das grandes estreias literárias de nosso tempoRegan e William são irmãos e herdeiros de uma grande fortuna Ela uma legítima Hamilton Sweeney e eternamente preocupada com o futuro da família vê seu casamento desmoronar.

Review City on Fire

City on Fire