{KINDLE} ó The Topeka School ô eBook or E-pub free

This book is like a skeleton clock There are a lot of different elements, some of them only added or painted for show, coming together to form one mechanical piece and while the first look suggests a complicated interplay of intricate parts, it s ultimately just wheels and springs doing their thing, and the oscillation of the balance wheel remains minimal Ben Lerner bombards his readers with topics and jumping timelines, but ultimately, the density of the writing does not cover up the fact t This book is like a skeleton clock There are a lot of different elements, some of them only added or painted for show, coming together to form one mechanical piece and while the first look suggests a complicated interplay of intricate parts, it s ultimately just wheels and springs doing their thing, and the oscillation of the balance wheel remains minimal Ben Lerner bombards his readers with topics and jumping timelines, but ultimately, the density of the writing does not cover up the fact that this story is lacking depth and elegance The main storyline focuses on Adam who is a debate champion at Topeka High School in the 90 s just like the author once was Adam s parents work as psychologists, his mother is a renowned feminist and author again, dito for Lerner, and that s not all The story is written down in 2019 by the now grown up Adam, just like Lerner wrote this book When it comes to mirror images and contrasts, it will be hard to outdo this book, because that s basically what the whole construction relies upon From this main narrative thread, Lerner ventures into the lives of Adam s parents, his grandparents to a lesser degree and the married Adam, constantly changing perspectives and giving the whole text the appearance of being a montage of interviews This impression is partly disturbed by the insertion of the life story of Darren, a kid with a developmental disorder who went to school with Adam Treated cruelly by his peers, Darren s rage drives him to commit a heinous act for which Adam feels partly responsible.Which leads us to the first major topic of the book Toxic masculinity Adam is struggling with migraines The pressures of passing himself off as a real man, of staying true to type the constant weight lifting, the verbal combat would eventually reduce him to a child again, calling out for his mother from his bed In his professional life, Adam s dad is an expert for troubled boys, while he himself has issues with marital faithfulness at the same time, his successful mother, the Brain , is confronted with sexist stereotypes, constantly stated by the Men And then there s Klaus, a holocaust survivor who, also a psychologist, is suffering from severe trauma and might be gay And then there s Fred Phelps of the infamous Westboro Church, located in Topeka And then there s Adam s friend Jason, and a father who abuses his daughter, and Donald Trump This is a lot, and this is just one of the topics.Lerner also connects questions of politics, technology, media and language if he had the language he wouldn t express himself with symptoms throughout the narrated time Often, he does this by employing the aforementioned mirror images For instance, there is a rosewood table and a rose painting, a kid with a head injury and a mother looking concussed , and there are even sequences repeated verbatim mother, mom, mommy , the curve where her shoulder met her breast , etc Plus there are lots and lots of tornadoes and thunderstorms, fittingly sweeping up everything in a destructive whirl Darren even thinks he managed to create a tornado with supernatural powers, thus wreaking havoc And if you now think enough already , I m sorry to break this to you, but there is yet another layer to this Various strands in the book are playing with Hermann Hesse s short story Ein Mensch mit Namen Ziegler Ziegler is an average guy with a firm believe in the power of science and money, until he takes a mysterious pill fast forward He ends up in an institution read the story and watch out for the pills the institution that feature in Lerner s text So much for the German short story, and I am aware that lately, it has been chic to incorporate German words into books, but kids who had no volk beyond their common privilege simply makes no sense I see what you mean, Ben Lerner, but really This is gibberish Also, I had to look up Kohlwurst , because I ve never heard of it it s apparently a real, but rather obscure thing , and God only knows why Lerner writes Schirmm tze instead of cap So in a way, this whole novel reads like a debate unsurprisingly, there are many debates depicted in the text or one of the frequently mentioned Thematic Apperception Tests America was one vast institution it had no outside This is a message that comes across, and there are some smart ideas and strong passages in this text, especially when Lerner talks about the relationships between the characters, but all in all, it s overwritten Less could have been This is one of those books where the story is fabulous, but the execution and writing style aren t my cup of tea I appreciate what the author is doing here, but the text is packed solid to the point that there is very little dialogue, and this paired with continuous thoughts that felt like mental run on sentences, was a struggle Again, I may not be high brow enough or as much of a literary fiction connoisseur as the reader who this novel is intended for, so I would definitely recommend with ca This is one of those books where the story is fabulous, but the execution and writing style aren t my cup of tea I appreciate what the author is doing here, but the text is packed solid to the point that there is very little dialogue, and this paired with continuous thoughts that felt like mental run on sentences, was a struggle Again, I may not be high brow enough or as much of a literary fiction connoisseur as the reader who this novel is intended for, so I would definitely recommend with cautionMany thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy via NetGalley. Sometimes a book just doesn t work for me and this is one of them There was such an introspective feel right from the beginning and I usually enjoy that in a novel, but at 40% I m giving up I put it down several times and each time I wasn t all that interested in finding outabout these dysfunctional and complex characters Just not for me I m not rating it since I didn t finish and I recommend you read the reviews of those who did Too many books and so little time as they say, so I m m Sometimes a book just doesn t work for me and this is one of them There was such an introspective feel right from the beginning and I usually enjoy that in a novel, but at 40% I m giving up I put it down several times and each time I wasn t all that interested in finding outabout these dysfunctional and complex characters Just not for me I m not rating it since I didn t finish and I recommend you read the reviews of those who did Too many books and so little time as they say, so I m moving on.I received an advanced copy of this book from Farrar, Straus Giroux through Edelweiss Ben Lerner s new book, The Topeka School, is an extraordinarily brilliant novel that s also accessible to anyone yearning for illumination in our disputatious era If you ve been nervously hopping along the shore of Lerner s work, now s the time to dive in As in his previous novels, this story is semi autobiographical and the structure is complex, but The Topeka School is no Escher sketch of literary theory Its complexity is beautifully subsumed in a compelling plot about two psychotherapi Ben Lerner s new book, The Topeka School, is an extraordinarily brilliant novel that s also accessible to anyone yearning for illumination in our disputatious era If you ve been nervously hopping along the shore of Lerner s work, now s the time to dive in As in his previous novels, this story is semi autobiographical and the structure is complex, but The Topeka School is no Escher sketch of literary theory Its complexity is beautifully subsumed in a compelling plot about two psychotherapists and their son As Lerner revolves through these wholly realized characters, we come to know exactly who they are And as we turn these pages with growing excitement, we know exactly where we are here, in the middle of a rage filled country tearing itself apart.The story takes place in the 1990s in Topeka, Kan., where a high school senior named Adam Gordon is a star on the debate team as was Lerner Early in the novel, we follow Adam on a Saturday morning to a tournament in an eerily empty high school By any standard, this is a contest of no consequence in a remote place involving sweaty kids in ill fitting clothes spouting off about To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post https www.washingtonpost.com entert What did I just read I have no freaking idea Stream of consciousness and changing points of view are great but this book made me feel like the ball in a Pong game Meaninglessly bouncing back and forth Told from the different perspectives of three family members who are not only one dimensional but incredibly unlikeable There is no connection between the three so I frankly didn t care The book description states that the son Adam will bring a young man into the group who will do something What did I just read I have no freaking idea Stream of consciousness and changing points of view are great but this book made me feel like the ball in a Pong game Meaninglessly bouncing back and forth Told from the different perspectives of three family members who are not only one dimensional but incredibly unlikeable There is no connection between the three so I frankly didn t care The book description states that the son Adam will bring a young man into the group who will do something so heinous as to shake the foundation of everyone Yes, what he did was heinous, but it is a sum total of 7 sentences in the book, all of which happen in the final 40 pages in the book it is not like the remainder of the book is a build up to this penultimate event The remainder of the book is a fever dream of words strung together How do I keep landing on these ridiculous vanity projects Makes me want to read James Patterson at least I would know what to expect This book was a most anticipated of numerous publications Did they read this book I would say not because it blew Hated it Whilst there are some good moments in this, they are vastly outweighed by the sheer confusing tangle of webs and people and ideas all strung together with high brow language that makes the book a real drudge to try to plough through The constant flipping of characters and between the past and the present is confusing, particularly when the language makes it so difficult to easily grasp what is going on There were multiple moments where I found myself going back pages to try to figure out who, Whilst there are some good moments in this, they are vastly outweighed by the sheer confusing tangle of webs and people and ideas all strung together with high brow language that makes the book a real drudge to try to plough through The constant flipping of characters and between the past and the present is confusing, particularly when the language makes it so difficult to easily grasp what is going on There were multiple moments where I found myself going back pages to try to figure out who, what or where we were, which simply shouldn t happen if a book is well written.In honesty, this comes across as the author trying so hard to be clever, to be literary that he ends up losing sight of the things that actually make a good novel like a strong narrative voice, characters you can empathise with and writing you are drawn in by The narrative voice here is all over the place as Lerner tries to do so many things with so many characters that it is just a mess of half formed ideas You have Adam s story as he grows up, a champion debater trying to fit in as one of the lads Then you have his parents stories a psychologist and a famous feminist author and, to a lesser degree, his grandparents You have a whole load of psychology and psychoanalysis scattered through the book, along with a retelling and constant references Hesse s short story, A Man By the Name of Ziegler, which is used constantly to highlight characters actions throughout the book.On top of this you have a variety of themes scattered through the novel politics and Trump and protesters, the psychology of debating and it s inclusion in the real world, toxic masculinity, the metoo movement, the abuse of strong female figures and use of psychology to shut them up Homosexuality gets a look in, as does adultery and the aspects of sexuality in growing up and in a completely different line, you get the story of Darren, a youngster with a significant development disorder, how he is treated by his peers and how it results in violence On top of this, the time lines are all over the place, often shifting without any warning and you have to figure out what the hell is going on which due to the writing style can sometimes take pages at a time There is far too much going on here and due to the mass of ideas vomited across the pages, most aspects feel rushed and unfinished Of the aspects that do get delved into deeply, you end up with a huge amount of psycho babble and naval gazing, which feels self indulgent rather than actually bringing anything useful to the plot.Bringing the focus back to the writing style and use of language, some aspects are highly poetic, but as a whole the entire novel is hugely over written There is a lot of repetition, obviously deliberate, as Lerner tries to bring aspects to the fore or link them to something that has previously occurred the use of Ziegler is a key example of this More than that though, the writing is so dense that it is a struggle to get through There s huge swathes of description, psychology and introspection, which would slow the pace down anyway, and because the writing is so heavy and dense it amplifies this effect ten fold When put together with the style involving so much flipping between present and past, it means the novel never seems to be going anywhere and the characters are floating in a sea of excessive vocabulary and complex sentences.All in all, this really wasn t for me I got to the end because having been given an ARC copy, it only seemed fair If I d have bought it, I very much doubt I d have got past about 20% Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC I had high hopes for Ben Lerner s The Topeka School, but although I did appreciate the writing, I felt it was not as good as some other recent fiction that is discussed in relation to the 2020 Pulitzer such as Disappearing Earth The story revolves around a family of psychotherapists in Topeka, Kansas and is supposed to be a sort of deconstructionist view of the New Right I was not really able to connect with the protagonists, Dr John father , famous writer Jane mother , Adam son and Darren I had high hopes for Ben Lerner s The Topeka School, but although I did appreciate the writing, I felt it was not as good as some other recent fiction that is discussed in relation to the 2020 Pulitzer such as Disappearing Earth The story revolves around a family of psychotherapists in Topeka, Kansas and is supposed to be a sort of deconstructionist view of the New Right I was not really able to connect with the protagonists, Dr John father , famous writer Jane mother , Adam son and Darren assistant to John but local loser There are some well written passages unfortunately, I read it in Libby and it is difficult to extract quotes from that app , and I appreciated how the book was brought up to date with ICE and Trumpism, but there lacked some analysis here in my mind in terms of truly explaining how the misogynist ideology that the author condemns came to preponderance and impacted the lives of the protagonists I felt that something was missing As for writing style, it is definitely is a non linear plot showing influence of DFW in places Just not my cup of tea I suppose, but nonetheless a good read.A few quotes page numbers from my copy on Libby, your mileage may vary since America is adolescence without end, boys without religion on the one hand or a charismatic leader on the other they don t even have a father President Carter to kill or a father to tell them to kill the Jew they have no Jew, they are libidinally driven to mass surrender without anything to surrender to they don t even believe in money or in science, or those beliefs are insufficient their country has fought and lost its last real war in a word, they are over fed in a word, they are starving 21% This quote reminded me of Marathe s discourse in Invisible Jest by DFW about Americans surrendering the right to choose.If I say life is pain, that is true, profoundly so so too, that life is joy theprofound the statement, thereversible the deep truths are sedimented in syntax, the terms can be reversed, just as there is no principle of non contradiction, no law of the excluded middle, governing the unconscious 22% Sima made a space for me to hear that there were depths beneath what I was saying that I hadn t sounded yet 31% Of course they knew better, but knowing is a weak state you cannot assume your son will opt out of the dominant libidinal economy, develop the right desires from within the wrong life the travesty of inclusion they were playing out with Darren their intern was also a citation and critique of the Foundation s methods if they were at once caring for and castigating Darren, they were also modeling and mocking their own parents 42% They felt at once profoundly numb and profoundly ecstatic to be young and inflicting option damage on each other the heat was its own justification, but there was a second order thrill in knowing that you could kick someone in the chest without emotion To have violent conflict without competing notions 43% He imagined his mothering launching into a story about how he wrapped his body in gum This is my nice little boy named baby tu Joo He felt there was something effete about the way he was holding the cr atine with both arms, cradling it, and he repositioned the tub 46% And finally, an intern pushing the metal show box see the cow, the purple body of the hide barely perceptible, blood seeping from the small holds punched by a.22, ears tagged with plastic Shitting itself, despite the tranquilizers, out of terror at being nearly real 47% Evanson was gifted at committing the plausibly deniable outrage, then taking tactical umbrage, claiming the high ground 50% I detest people like that, don t you A failure of continuity he remembered climbing into his bed at home, then he remembered waking in a hospital bed, receiving guests, his parents in a kind of mania of relief Everything he suffered in that interval was lost, at least to the first person he possessed images formed from the stories he d been told The memory Klaus was the last visitor that day was burned in places, black at the left edge 52% On day, on a hill near the school, Toomey handed Russell his.22 caliber rifle and instructed the man child to shoot almost every scrawny cow in a local farmer s herd I saw some of it before I fled, tears in my eyes, wimp that I was a pop,the report of a cap gun than a weapon, and then a cow would take a knee, lie down, eerily calm, while Toomey kept barking instructions at Russell like a commanding officer Each dying cow spoke with his eyes, two big brown eyes His silent gaze expressed dignity, resignation, sadness and with regard to the visitor the American a lofty and solemn contempt The farmer, whose life, or at least livelihood, was destroyed, showed up, to everyone s amazement, at the International School the next day, screaming, crying I was told that what he demanded was not compensation, or that Russell be punished, but that someone face him and apologize I don t remember what happened beyond the fact that kids made fun of the farmer in mock Chinese, Jerry Lewis gibberish, mimicked how he crossed his arms and refused to budge until the police carried him away Half of what came out of American adolescent mouths was that racist travesty of speech 58% He had committed a kind of sexual wrong, was becoming a man, while the man of the house, in the way of men, was betraying my mom, who was sick, who we were making sick 59% There wasn t a change until there was I sat down and we made small talk, but now the few inches between us was all static my imagination, no, my awareness of her thigh beneath the white silk of her slacks I could barely look at her I stared at the clock, the trees, every leafsharply delineated than it had been a few minutes before The content of that conversation it probably lasted twenty minutes it lost, but it was the first time I noticed her reach back for the pendant, move it forward It marked a difference, signaled a shift And that was the start of it, our meetings, our walks around the grounds Private, but in plain sight 60% Several times this motif appears in relationship to love interests of both father and son the curve where her shoulder met her breast 60% and then stopping to admire her necklace lifting the little pendant from her collarbone 57% Perhaps there was a deeper symbolism that eluded me.I remember calling out to her as I filmed, to get her to look my way She did she waved But suddenly, a teenage appears in the shot, seems to say something to my mom And as I watched him walk away out of the frame, I realized he was me 62% a moment of wonder when Amber discovered a ladybug on a leaf of iceberg lettuce in her salad, holding up the scarlet beetle on her chopstick It had avoided the thick ginger dressing and so, when she blew on it, proved capable of flight 68% The desire to knowand the desire to know less fought each other to a standstill within Adam, making it hard to move He sensed his dad was bracing himself to field the difficult questions 86% He heard the six second Windows startup sound composed by Brian ENOVIA 87% I had no idea that that sound was created by Brian Eno No, I said, it s not okay the child is father to the man, what the kids will figure out is repetition I helped create her, Ivana, my daughter, Ivana, she s six feet tall, she s got the best body, she made a lot of money Because when you re a star they let you do it You can do anything You have the authority A moon or dead star infinitely dense suspended in the basement filament 93% My List of 2020 Pulitzer Candidates blog about the 2020 Pulitzer Sometimes Literary Fiction just works It s brilliantly written, full of richly drawn characters, social commentary and observations And sometimes it doesn t work at all The writing may be great, but the meaning is too oblique and inaccessible, the character s actions and motivations too hard to understand, and the story seems to go nowhere.And what makes Literary Fiction such a difficult genre in which to select books to read is that not many people read it at all, and everyone s line between Sometimes Literary Fiction just works It s brilliantly written, full of richly drawn characters, social commentary and observations And sometimes it doesn t work at all The writing may be great, but the meaning is too oblique and inaccessible, the character s actions and motivations too hard to understand, and the story seems to go nowhere.And what makes Literary Fiction such a difficult genre in which to select books to read is that not many people read it at all, and everyone s line between what works and what doesn t is dramatically different I really liked Zone One and absolutely loved Normal People, but I was ambivalent about Dept of Speculation, and I didn t care for The Memory Police or Severance at all And you could read the same five books and have completely opposite opinions even if we largely share the same taste in books.So know that I went into reading The Topeka School with high hopes The description of the book sounded cool But as you may have guessed, this book did not work for me There s almost no plot to speak of None of the characters are particularly interesting And every thread seemed to reach or strain to reach the same message that an inability to communicate with other people is leading to interpersonal conflict and much of the societal friction we re experiencing today But that conclusion is merely told, not shown a kid throwing a cue ball at someone does not explain Alex Jones or Donald Trump, who is referred to near the end of the book briefly, obliquely, and unnecessarily.This book is very well written, especially when characters start leaping from one memory to another in a way that felt real and very stream of consciousness The other thing that pushed me to finish the book was all of the discussion of high school debate I ve not seen that used before as the backdrop of a novel, and as a former high school debater, it brought back some fond memories That said, I d have to recommend passing on this book {KINDLE} Ì The Topeka School ⛅ Adam Gordon is a senior at Topeka High School, class ofHis mother, Jane, is a famous feminist author his father, Jonathan, is an expert at getting lost boys to open up They both work at the Foundation, a well known psychiatric clinic that has attracted staff and patients from around the world Adam is also one of the seniors who brings the loner Darren Eberheart who is, unbeknownst to Adam, his father s patient into the social scene, with disastrous effectsThis is the story of a family s struggles and strengths Jane s reckoning with the legacy of an abusive father, Jonathan s marital transgressions, the challenge of raising a good son in a culture of toxic masculinity It is also a riveting prehistory of the present the collapse of public speech, the trolls and tyrants of the new right, and the ongoing crisis of identity among white men It s always a good feeling when you settle in for the beginning of a new book that has landed on everybody s Top Tippity Top lists for damn good books It s less a good feeling when you reach the century mark page wise and find yourself still squinting through the binoculars to figure out who the guy on first is And it s not a good feeling at all when you feel that you ve paid your dues on the exposition as a reader and, spoiled as you are, expect some kind of reward As in, the Now I Get It It s always a good feeling when you settle in for the beginning of a new book that has landed on everybody s Top Tippity Top lists for damn good books It s less a good feeling when you reach the century mark page wise and find yourself still squinting through the binoculars to figure out who the guy on first is And it s not a good feeling at all when you feel that you ve paid your dues on the exposition as a reader and, spoiled as you are, expect some kind of reward As in, the Now I Get It package Or the At Last the Plot Arrives package.Nope Not on either count, really Instead, justexposition An exposition sandwich Three slices of exposition between two pieces of exposition slathered with some Hellman s Exposition hold the pickle.Some good writing though And all manner of moving back and forth in time Technical merit scores high, explaining the huzzahs But good old fashioned payoff Not so much At least for this perhaps too simple reader.So slog it was Mind you, I won t even bother if the slogging has NO rewards, but at times I got caught up in the narrative Little bursts But that was all I was allowed before the author again yanked away a character in favor of another or a year in favor of another or a point of view in favor of another Killjoy.But hey, I made it, and oh, what a feeling when you make it on this kind of book The TBR books are catcalling you all the way, just begging you to come over to their places And so finally, I will thus leaving the Top Tippety Top books forsophisticated readers than myself, I guess.2.5 Topekas, rounded up for technical merit and Tippety Tops