- By Péter Nádas Imre Goldstein

Parallel Stories

  • Title: Parallel Stories
  • Author: Péter Nádas Imre Goldstein
  • ISBN: 9780374229764
  • Page: 418
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Parallel Stories A New York Times Notable Book for In the year the Wall came down a university student in Berlin on his morning run finds a corpse on a park bench and alerts the authorities This scene open

    A New York Times Notable Book for 2011 In 1989, the year the Wall came down, a university student in Berlin on his morning run finds a corpse on a park bench and alerts the authorities This scene opens a novel of extraordinary scope and depth, a masterwork that traces the fate of myriad Europeans Hungarians, Jews, Germans, Gypsies across the treacherous years of the mid tA New York Times Notable Book for 2011 In 1989, the year the Wall came down, a university student in Berlin on his morning run finds a corpse on a park bench and alerts the authorities This scene opens a novel of extraordinary scope and depth, a masterwork that traces the fate of myriad Europeans Hungarians, Jews, Germans, Gypsies across the treacherous years of the mid twentieth century.Three unusual men are at the heart of Parallel Stories Hans von Wolkenstein, whose German mother is linked to secrets of fascist Nazi collaboration during the 1940s gost Lippay Lehr, whose influential father has served Hungary s different political regimes for decades and Andr s Rott, who has his own dark record of mysterious activities abroad The web of extended and interconnected dramas reaches from 1989 back to the spring of 1939, when Europe trembled on the edge of war, and extends to the bestial times of 1944 45, when Budapest was besieged, the Final Solution devastated Hungary s Jews, and the war came to an end, and on to the cataclysmic Hungarian Revolution of October 1956 We follow these men from Berlin and Moscow to Switzerland and Holland, from the Mediterranean to the North Sea, and of course, from village to city in Hungary The social and political circumstances of their lives may vary greatly, their sexual and spiritual longings may seem to each of them entirely unique, yet P ter N das s magnificent tapestry unveils uncanny reverberating parallels that link them across time and space.This is P ter N das s masterpiece eighteen years in the writing, a sensation in Hungary even before it was published, and almost four years in the translating Parallel Stories is the first foreign translation of this daring, demanding, and momentous novel, and it confirms for an even larger audience what Hungary already knows that it is the author s greatest work.

    1 thought on “Parallel Stories

    1. ABSURDLY LONG NOVELS : MY 2016 PROJECTYou can’t help but notice that some novels are stupefyingly long, so long that they put you right off. This one is 1,133 pages! Really! I mean, who are they kidding? If you come to that part of your life when you have the time for such a novel you will probably no longer have enough bodily strength to pick it up. A robot or a nurse will have to help. This kind of annoyed me. Because I thought – wait. Someone – quite a few someones – thought that this [...]

    2. My first experiment with absurdly long novels ends in abject failure. I crawl away into a corner, mumbling and drooling. Okay you have to say that the central of Europe in the 20th Century was no cakewalk in the park on a lovely spring day with friendly poodles and ickle girls in pinafore dresses turning handsprings and bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover tweeting oh what a beautiful morning. Corrupt aristocracies were replaced by fascism which was replaced by Stalinism. So we get miseryfes [...]

    3. The flammable human colloid gathered in the ditches, fat and marrow arranged in fine layers according to their relative density; the religion teach or the retired banker watched as fires burst to life with fat and flames flaring up from the depths.This particular scene is not indicative of the spiralling core of Parallel Stories. The novel's soul is of a softer vice, one more suggestive, dispiriting and, often, spermy.The action occurs largely in Budapest and Berlin, though other destinations in [...]

    4. "Parallel straight lines are straight lines which, being in the same plane and being produced indefinitely in both directions, do not meet one another in either direction."-Euclid, The ElementsA fitting title, Parallel Stories. This myriad of characters endures through the same torrents of history, somehow, but they never really meet. This big brick is already getting comparisons to War and Peace, and I felt compelled to see for myself.Adorno is famous for saying there can be no art after the Ho [...]

    5. Vital StatisticsNumber of pages: 1133Length of audio version: 1 day, 18 hours, 48 minutesWeight of hardcover edition: 3.3 poundsNumber of significant characters: 34+Longest chapter title: Through the Entrance to His Secret LifeNumber of instances of the word "foreskin": 34Number of instances of the word "Nazi": 25Words most commonly appearing in context with "frenum": "taut", "sensitive", "torn"Level of necessity to construct an ongoing dramatis personae: utmostLink to a great article about this [...]

    6. I'm setting this one aside for now. Gave it 150 pages, but I see no reason to continue on for another thousand. It's an utterly bleak, humorless 19th-century-style Realist novel, told in fairly conventional prose (yes, the book's chronology is fragmented and scattered, but really that's not particularly inventive or difficult, you write 6 small novels and shuffle the chapters like a deck of cards) - not that Nadas can't write, there are some startling descriptions here, nicely made images - but [...]

    7. I'm firmly convinced Mr. Nadas is the greatest living novelist in the western world This book is, like, really intense. I first read it when it came out in '11, and then stopped reading novels for the next year or so. Everything else seemed sort of inadequate. Petty, insignificant Peace time. Relative prosperity and comfort. A cultured woman has to run to the toilet with a bad case of diarrhea, all the while trying to keep up bourgeois appearances; the discomfort in her body brings her back to t [...]

    8. What you get with Nádas is a candid, unrestrained portrayal of the seedier aspects of life. His depictions are not glamorous. He is obsessed with bodily functions, and with the mechanics of sex. The fluids, the friction, and all the nasty odours and secretions are described in sensory detail. He has a particular penchant for describing the attributes of the foreskin: its present position as being either relaxed or painfully retracted behind the bulb, its state of cleanliness, its odour, the col [...]

    9. REVIEW published in The National, November 4th, 2011.Henry James famously referred to the spate of unwieldy, enormous, world-engulfing 19th century novels that once flooded the literary world, and Tolstoy's War and Peace specifically, as "loose, baggy monsters". Such monsters are now pretty much a genre. Perhaps it's simply that word - monster - but what critic can resist giving the giant novel that kind of label? And, let's face it, books featuring hundreds of characters, squirrelly plot lines [...]

    10. I like big books. The breadth of the story, the intricate plots and characters, and even the sheer physical size of the book are all daunting. But it's the challenge I love. Truth be told, I majored in English because I wanted to be able to really read Gravity's Rainbow (I still can't). House of Leaves, Underworld, Wings of the Dove, Infinite Jest, and my-all-time favorite, The Recognitions, were not easy reads, and many times I slammed the books shut, frustrated, confused, and completely lost, [...]

    11. For a more detailed review of Parallel Stories, I'll insist that you read Tod's review here on and Scott Esposito's wonderful review—and one with which I agree wholeheartedly—in the Barnes & Noble Review.Nádas has certainly written a monumental exploration of time, history, belonging, estrangement, and how the personal and the political affect individuals and their relationships with others. Roughly speaking, Parallel Stories centralizes the Lippy-Lehr and the Dohring families, explori [...]

    12. As I find most of my reading time in the inbetweens of busy planned out days when I'm eating lunch, or am waiting for that friend that's always late, or am standing in the line at the movies, or under the table of a lecture that I lost track of, or hiding upstairs with the cat at a house party I have kept this one lying around for ages. It's a heavy-ass tome, a real monster of a book, not suitable for the out-and-about, mobile reader. Instead, I first came to read in it when sleepless (not recom [...]

    13. Schweren Herzens und voller Überdruss drei Sterne, markiere mir die bemerkenswerten 40% dieses in jeder Hinsicht maßlosen Buches für ein sicherlich erfreuliches Wiederlesen, ausführliche Begründung für dieses Urteil folgt, sobald ich die Zeit und Energie dazu finde.

    14. "It's a lot of hooey, the whole text, every bit of it, said the man standing stark naked in the doorway."Decaying Angels: An Unenthusiastically Incomplete Assessment Concerning Parallel Stories With Occasional Additional Commentary From Stephen Dedalus 'What syllabus of intellectual pursuits was simultaneously possible?''Snapshot photography, comparative study of religions, folklore relative to various amatory and superstitious practices, contemplation of the celestial constellations.'Firstly, [...]

    15. Al jaren wordt de Hongaar Peter Nadas als Nobelprijskandidaat beschouwd, zeker sinds hij de wereld verbaasde met het omvangrijke en complexe meesterwerk "Het boek der herinneringen". Ik dacht dat hij na dit ook door mij bewonderde prachtboek op zijn lauweren was gaan rusten. Maar hij bleek na achttien jaar noeste arbeid een nieuw, nog veel complexer en omvangrijker boek te hebben geschreven: in het Engels vertaald als "Parallel Stories" (en in het Duits als "Parallelgeschichten"), 1750 volkomen [...]

    16. after several weeks of reading, rereading, going back and forth and extensively using the search button on my epub version which i alternated with the print version, I finished (at least temporarily and tentatively since this is a book to be reread quite a few times) the novel. I plan to have a full review on FBC soon so again several points for now;- the book is extremely dense and jumps between pov's, narrative forms, tenses, characters, so it is best read as a collection of vignettes; some sh [...]

    17. --And it was for me, and I love it, and even five months since finishing it, I’m still talking about it, thinking about it, pushing it at people, trying to get them to just read even a few pages, trying to figure out how he did the things he does in this novel. He does so many things, and so many of them shouldn’t work, shouldn’t even be possible for a book so large with so many character. But he does and I truly believe Parallel Stories is the most impressive novel I’ve ever read, more [...]

    18. In my continuing fascination with lengthy novels by non-US authors, here's Parallel Stories.It would be most accurate to say that, while there are tenuous links between the different stories in this book, there are several different sort of "parallel novels" working within the longer novel. The sleeve description of the book, to a large extent, is inaccurate as to whom the principal characters are, and seems to provide the inaccurate presumption that the book is primarily about the political mov [...]

    19. This obsessively observed narrative is a novel of ideas. The first idea that comes to mind, when a cyclist reports his discovery of a corpse, is whether lack of connection to human beings is tantamount to murder or simply urban self absorption, weirdness, and petty malice.The second question is what post-Holocaust art looks like. This is another aspect of the city, where people are too close, stifled, with obscene relations in public baths, for example, visible and audible, and worst all, pervas [...]

    20. Impressive in it's scope and enjoyable in the wonderful writing, but I still found this to be a confusing book to read. Though I do think it is a skill that some writers can help readers to understand complexity, I do not think writing is flawed simply because a writer does not do that. Nádas definitely doesn't. There are so many threads, characters, switches in time, that it is a struggle to understand what is going on and why. I never did get a complete handle on the book, but perhaps I didn' [...]

    21. My girlfriend, who was raised in Hungary, bought this book almost three years ago after we went to see another Hungarian author (László Krasznahorkai) speak at City Lights bookstore. At the time, I thought it was a collection of short stories. I briefly opened it and read a bit, but didn't immediately have any intention of reading the book. I hoped she would as she never reads anything these days.Fast forward to the spring of 2014 I re-injured my back (herniated disc) to the point of being bed [...]

    22. My god, what a monster. 1,133 pages of hundreds of characters, dense prose, bodily fluids, and dark Eastern European angst. Was it worth it? Yes! I feel like the Nadas was trying to do two things here. The first is to detail how people affect each other even if they don't know each other or actually interact directly and the second is to illustrate how the body and bodily needs (sex, food) affect the social and political sphere. About halfway through the book it starts resembling a giant kinetic [...]

    23. Despite a stellar an inimitable style, tension, brilliant characterization, fascinating settings, and everything to recommend it, I can't continue with Parallel Stories now. Sometime in the last few pages, the balance tipped. Yesterday, I was highly impressed that I could read 10 pages about a fictional character's experience in an underwear store without becoming bored or annoyed. But there is far too much energy invested here in minute descriptions of things like bodily excretions (liquid, gas [...]

    24. I've given this four stars, but I suppose at least one of those stars is just for the way Nádas has helped bring Hungarian literature to the Westd for offering up depictions of Hungary since the 1930s--- always a topic I'm fascinated with. It's a sprawling book, and Nádas lays out an intertwined set of stories and characters that sometimes fascinate and intrigue. But he seems at times to lose track of what he's doing, to have welded together storylines with shallow and hackneyed links. Hungary [...]

    25. I only got about 80 pages into this before having to put it down for good. It was just too much for me, too much random jumping from scene to scene within a paragraph. Too much talk of bodily functions for no purpose. Too off-putting for me and FAR too long to waste my time trying to persevere. This was not for me.

    26. Ich glaube es kaum, ich habe es geschafft. 1724 Seiten sind gelesen - und die waren nun wirklich keine Wonne. Wer immer sich an dieses Buch heranwagt, der/dem sollte klar sein, dass es sich um keine durchgängige Geschichte handelt. Einzelne Personen bzw. Familien tauchen zwar immer wieder auf, doch stets wird auch die Gelegenheit genutzt, den Spuren anderer Personen zu folgen. Hauptsächlich ereignen sich die Begebenheiten in Ungarn zu Ende der 60er Jahre und kurz oder während des Ungarnaufsta [...]

    27. But all this happened long ago, writes Péter Nádas , and it might not even be true.I was halfway through reading Parallel Stories, the monumental novel by Hungarian author Péter Nádas , when I took a two-week trip to Budapest and I didn't want to lug the big book around. When I got back, I couldn't wait to get back into it, and I had learned a lot more about Budapest and Hungary in the meantime.This astounding novel is all about the twentieth century in Hungary, told through the stories of o [...]

    28. A meandering, inconsistent book. The very concept of parallelism implies that the lines/stories are without end, and that's the most invoked as you slog through the tepid, drawn-out clinical descriptions of sex in the central section of the book. It's a shame, really, that, since the book is constructed like a sandwich, this constitutes the meaty section of the book. The top slice comes in an intriguing psychological mystery thriller and the bottom slice delves into fascinating tableaux from var [...]

    29. Absolutely hated this book, or at least the portion that I read. There is not a single reason to recommend Parallel Stories. The writing is not attractive, the narrative strands are extremely difficult to follow, and the stories themselves are tedious at best and revolting at worst. A profound disappointment.

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