!!> KINDLE ❄ An Unnecessary Woman ❁ Author Rabih Alameddine – Lavons.co.uk

An Unnecessary Woman There is actually no such thing as atheism There is no such thing as not worshipping Everybody worships The only choice we get is what to worship David Foster Wallace Perhaps reading and writing books is one of the last defences human dignity has left, because in the end they remind us of what God once reminded us before He too evaporated in this age of relentless humiliations that we arethan ourselves that we have souls Richard FlanaganAaliya does not believe in God to her he is There is actually no such thing as atheism There is no such thing as not worshipping Everybody worships The only choice we get is what to worship David Foster Wallace Perhaps reading and writing books is one of the last defences human dignity has left, because in the end they remind us of what God once reminded us before He too evaporated in this age of relentless humiliations that we arethan ourselves that we have souls Richard FlanaganAaliya does not believe in God to her he is a Nazi and the BibleWould Noah have allowed a lesbian zebra aboard, an unmarried hedgehog, a limping lemur Me thinks notMe thinks yes At least the unmarried hedgehog Hedgehog sounds kind of aritstocratic She worships and believes in literature Just like God, it has many faces and names, but unlike God, it offers answers We might happen to like or dislike those answers, but they are always there We only need to look for them Of course, the tricky part is to know which ones to look for Sometimes finding out the right questions to ask is as hard as discovering their answers What did I ask Aaliya entering her solitary, but rich life What answers did she give me Vessey If you could trade places with any character, who would that be Aaliya The quiet one For he she is never unprepared It is those, who know how to listen that know how to speak I have little to say, but a lot to learn and a lot to give I have no voice I have no face I am as quiet and invisible as a drop of rain piercing boisterous and stormy sea Yet, I live and speak through others When my mind crosses with Her mind, I am as sonorous and strong and beautiful as She is Vessey And is She cruel or merciful Aaliya She is a mirror and we see in Her that which we already have inside of us She treats as we treat Her Literature I am everywhere, I have many names, I have myriad faces, I have millions of friends And enemies I have borne so many wounds I have been mocked, insulted, ignored, left, burned Many have tried to destroy me But I always come back I am ancient and eternal I know no limits, no death I possess many worlds, many people I wield all languages I am beautiful and complex I am pleasure and pain, happiness and sorrow, fear and desire I am you You will always find yourself in me I am the mirror of the world I always take a piece of you and give another in return What you do with it depends solely on you My faces are many and different I have many masters and I am entirely in their power They all shape me differently Sometimes I am sublime, sometimes mediocre Sometimes my voice has vigorous power, sometimes it is barely audible I unite and divide, I reveal and conceal I break hearts I put them back together I am mystery and revelation I am Goddess that needs no fear, no submission I don t punish, I don t avenge I need no sanctuaries, no cults or prayers, no wars in my name I don t need to be explained and understood I need no protection For I shall always return to those who seek me I am always reborn Through you I live many lives Through me you live manyWe live within each other Just like Aaliya, all I need is to be needed.Vessey But what about those heathens that need you not Do they fill your heart with longing, loneliness Do you have within you empty spaces, each bearing the shape of some of them Literature They rarely seek me But I always seek them And it always happens so that some of them find themselves converted Just like sometimes some of my followers turn against me They hide away, for sometimes even I cannot help them My empty spaces have their shapes For just like I always return, so do they For I am protection and sanctuary I am love and addiction I am forever.Did our short conversation leave me richer, wiser,ready to listen to those around me and to myself Was my patience justified Is what I gotthan what I gave And isn t it an equal exchange giving and receiving in equal degrees that makes every journey worthwhile Isn t giving just another form of getting and vice versa I know that amalgamation of the two is in the heart of every profound connection I was given a lot by Aaliya and I m giving it all to you, and doing so makes me feel blessed We live to share and we share to live I wish to share all that I am with you.Read count 1 Rating 4.25 of fiveThe Publisher Says One of Beirut s most celebrated voices, Rabih Alameddine follows his international bestseller, The Hakawati, with a heartrending novel that celebrates the singular life of an obsessive introvert, revealing Beirut s beauties and horrors along the way.Aaliya Sohbi lives alone in her Beirut apartment, surrounded by stockpiles of books Godless, fatherless, divorced, and childless, Aaliya is her family s unnecessary appendage Every year, she translates a n Rating 4.25 of fiveThe Publisher Says One of Beirut s most celebrated voices, Rabih Alameddine follows his international bestseller, The Hakawati, with a heartrending novel that celebrates the singular life of an obsessive introvert, revealing Beirut s beauties and horrors along the way.Aaliya Sohbi lives alone in her Beirut apartment, surrounded by stockpiles of books Godless, fatherless, divorced, and childless, Aaliya is her family s unnecessary appendage Every year, she translates a new favorite book into Arabic, then stows it away The thirty seven books that Aaliya has translated have never been read by anyone After overhearing her neighbors, the three witches, discussing her too white hair, Aaliya accidentally dyes her hair too blue.In this breathtaking portrait of a reclusive woman s late life crisis, readers follow Aaliya s digressive mind as it ricochets across visions of past and present Beirut Insightful musings on literature, philosophy, and art are invaded by memories of the Lebanese Civil War and Aaliya s volatile past As she tries to overcome her aging body and spontaneous emotional upwellings, Aaliya is faced with an unthinkable disaster that threatens to shatter the little life she has left.A love letter to literature and its power to define who we are, the gifted Rabih Alameddine has given us a nuanced rendering of a single woman s reclusive life in the Middle East.My Review The Doubleday UK meme, a book a day for July 2014, is the goad I m using to get through my snit based unwritten reviews Today s prompt is to discuss your favorite novel in translation So far this year, this is my hands down favorite novel translated from the furrin CORRECTION The novel was written in English, but it s so beautiful I don t want to take it down What does it mean to be invisible If you choose not to interact with the world, become a recluse, divest yourself of close relationships and divorce yourself from the life of the boudoir, and seal yourself away in a capsule formed of books and words, you are a freak Aaliya s neighbors think she s a ruined woman Aaliya s customers at the bookstore she works at, intellectuals all, don t notice her enough to form an opinion, and her family absent the dearest companion of her life, her true family, a departed friend hasn t given her much attention at all.She lives in Beirut, that once fabulous once gorgeous ruin on the Mediterranean, an early victim of the endless idiotic religious wars of the region Aaliya represents Beirut s decline from a world class cultural center to a shuttered mass of broken buildings holding wary, angry people.Aaliya is an angry woman, or at least I see her as such, and has walled herself in to avoid the nasty consequences of being angry amid armed and angry men She would not be isolated if Beirut wasn t what it is, I think, because she is a reflection of the energy of that wounded and dying place She preserves her sanity by translating her beloved books, the beauties of which she renders into the sinuous sonorous rhythms of Arabic And then, like she does with her self, she packages them up and puts them away They are safe They are invisible.This is tragic This is a sin A woman, a mere woman, cannot be her full self a book, a useless object, cannot spread its beauties for fear that it will not be appreciated or will be used as a weapon by the religious idiots.And this is the reason I give this book over four stars Alameddine has created a literary person s most deeply felt example of why the world appears to be headed directly for the bottom of the septic tank Aaliya reads and thinks on and renders the majesty and magic of words into the language of her people, and then cannot, will not, dare not allow them out of her keeping.This book should have made me feel claustrophobic It appears to be a scream from within the coffin that anti intellectual religious idiots are all but nailing shut around the world Creation SCIENCE REALLY Instead I feltuplifted in a curious way, heartened, encouraged Alameddine sees it too He created this most marginal of marginal beings, the unmarried childless woman intellectual in an Islamic society, and set her to singing Aaliya sings her thoughts, sings her translations, warbles her precious quotes to herself, her best and only audience She makes beauty from beauty as she sits and rots in the cesspool of gawd.I don t know if this is a cautionary tale, an elegy, or the quietest jeremiad of all time I do know that I can t, and don t wish to, forget Aaliya This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License One Of Beirut S Most Celebrated Voices, Rabih Alameddine Follows His International Bestseller, The Hakawati, With A Heartrending Novel That Celebrates The Singular Life Of An Obsessive Introvert, Revealing Beirut S Beauties And Horrors Along The WayAaliya Sohbi Lives Alone In Her Beirut Apartment, Surrounded By Stockpiles Of Books Godless, Fatherless, Divorced, And Childless, Aaliya Is Her Family S Unnecessary Appendage Every Year, She Translates A New Favorite Book Into Arabic, Then Stows It Away The Thirty Seven Books That Aaliya Has Translated Have Never Been Read By Anyone After Overhearing Her Neighbors, The Three Witches, Discussing Her Too White Hair, Aaliya Accidentally Dyes Her Hair Too BlueIn This Breathtaking Portrait Of A Reclusive Woman S Late Life Crisis, Readers Follow Aaliya S Digressive Mind As It Ricochets Across Visions Of Past And Present Beirut Insightful Musings On Literature, Philosophy, And Art Are Invaded By Memories Of The Lebanese Civil War And Aaliya S Volatile Past As She Tries To Overcome Her Aging Body And Spontaneous Emotional Upwellings, Aaliya Is Faced With An Unthinkable Disaster That Threatens To Shatter The Little Life She Has LeftA Love Letter To Literature And Its Power To Define Who We Are, The Gifted Rabih Alameddine Has Given Us A Nuanced Rendering Of A Single Woman S Reclusive Life In The Middle East !!> BOOKS ✺ Enna Burning ✰ Author Shannon Hale – Lavons.co.uk Rabih Alameddine Follows His International Bestseller [ Read ] ➯ Uvod u likovne umetnosti Author Pavle Vasić – Lavons.co.uk The Hakawati !!> EPUB ❃ Collared (Going to the Dogs ✾ Author Zoe Dawson – Lavons.co.uk With A Heartrending Novel That Celebrates The Singular Life Of An Obsessive Introvert [Epub] ↠ The City In History Author Lewis Mumford – Lavons.co.uk Revealing Beirut S Beauties And Horrors Along The WayAaliya Sohbi Lives Alone In Her Beirut Apartment !!> KINDLE ❧ Total Quality Control for Management ❄ Author Masao Nemoto – Lavons.co.uk Surrounded By Stockpiles Of Books Godless Read ✓ Kapetan Džon Piplfoks By Dušan Radović – 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Harlan Wilson – Lavons.co.uk Then Stows It Away The Thirty Seven Books That Aaliya Has Translated Have Never Been Read By Anyone After Overhearing Her Neighbors Download ☆ In Allegiance By Kate Islay – Lavons.co.uk The Three Witches PDF / Epub ☃ Gold Tithings Author Kate Islay – Lavons.co.uk Discussing Her Too White Hair [BOOKS] ✯ Tool Materials (ASM Specialty Handbook) By J.R. Davis – Lavons.co.uk Aaliya Accidentally Dyes Her Hair Too BlueIn This Breathtaking Portrait Of A Reclusive Woman S Late Life Crisis [[ Epub ]] ❤ Kuvarove kletve i druge gadosti Author Srđan V. Tešin – Lavons.co.uk Readers Follow Aaliya S Digressive Mind As It Ricochets Across Visions Of Past And Present Beirut Insightful Musings On Literature !!> Epub ➝ Plays from African Tales ➜ Author Barbara Winther – Lavons.co.uk Philosophy [PDF / Epub] ★ Mali pirat ✪ Anto Staničić – Lavons.co.uk And Art Are Invaded By Memories Of The Lebanese Civil War And Aaliya S Volatile Past As She Tries To Overcome Her Aging Body And Spontaneous Emotional Upwellings [Ebook] ↠ Thyme out Author Katie Fforde – Lavons.co.uk Aaliya Is Faced With An Unthinkable Disaster That Threatens To Shatter The Little Life She Has LeftA Love Letter To Literature And Its Power To Define Who We Are Reading ➿ Sudbina i komentari Author Radoslav Petković – Lavons.co.uk The Gifted Rabih Alameddine Has Given Us A Nuanced Rendering Of A Single Woman S Reclusive Life In The Middle East Update to review, October, 2017 First, I agree with my initial review completely I love the book, again, in the same and new ways This time I read itslowly, giving attention to Alameddine s prose, his style and the actual words and phrases he used in describing Aaliya, her neighbors, family, neighborhood, and city This time I became captivated by Aaliya in a different way by her struggle with an uncaring family in her youth, a struggle that has lasted her entire life by the strength o Update to review, October, 2017 First, I agree with my initial review completely I love the book, again, in the same and new ways This time I read itslowly, giving attention to Alameddine s prose, his style and the actual words and phrases he used in describing Aaliya, her neighbors, family, neighborhood, and city This time I became captivated by Aaliya in a different way by her struggle with an uncaring family in her youth, a struggle that has lasted her entire life by the strength of her will and her intellect in the face of a society who has little room for her by her struggle with an aging body in a war ravaged city trying to renew itself by her struggle to find purpose in her life of books, a life she has kept hidden from the world.What I found on this second reading were signs of the world s encroachment into her solitude, in tiny ways to be sure, but in ways that didn t cause her to run, that led her to wonder about tomorrow and to wonder who might be IN her tomorrow besides herself So I am quietly evenhappy at the end of this reading than I was when I finished three years ago Thank you Mr AlameddineAbsolutely wonderful on so many levels An Unnecessary Woman will undoubtedly be high on my list of favorite books of 2014 I ve already planned to read it again and many of the books that Aaliya, our narrator, mentions, are on my reading list already Some have now jumped higher When I read about this book, I learned that it was about a woman who worked in a bookstore and translates books into Arabic Oh but it is so muchthan this It is the story of Beirut and Aaliya, the personal and religious and political and civic wars they have been through together It is the story of a woman who has found a way to survive and how books and the life of the mind are both solace and salvation except when they aren t.I have so many highlighted sections that it becomes difficult to choose Shall I pick one related to her family, her home, her city, her books Aaliya says I can dig out the old chestnut from George Santayana, that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, but it serves no purpose It s a hopelessly optimistic quote We are condemned to repeat the past whether we remember it or not It is inevitable just ask Nietzsche eternal return or Hegel history repeats itself or James McCourt history repeats itself like hiccups I m fond of Mark Twain s quote History doesn t repeat itself, but it does rhymeloc 2164 As you can see from the end of that selection there is humor amidst the gloom There are some very funny moments and some extremely touching ones that made me remember moments with loved ones I hesitate to share too many I want the reader to experience them for themselves.It will not matter if you do not know all the books Aaliya mentions though it did add a spark to my reading to know that I would be reading some soon Another surprise for me and it probably shouldn t be is that the author is male He captures this aging woman so well.Well, enough said I could write forever but I must end Read this book.A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review Was it necessary to read An Unnecessary Woman About a woman in the twilight of her life, a product of rusted times A woman from a foreign land, and of foreign blood A woman who offered pursed whimpers amid teeth that reeked soupy yellow One with a musty room and a flickering temper A borderline linguist who made peace with the unspoken word She was nothingthan a drifting sprinkle of dust in this swirling world of men and ambition May be, it wasn t It wasn t necessary at all to re Was it necessary to read An Unnecessary Woman About a woman in the twilight of her life, a product of rusted times A woman from a foreign land, and of foreign blood A woman who offered pursed whimpers amid teeth that reeked soupy yellow One with a musty room and a flickering temper A borderline linguist who made peace with the unspoken word She was nothingthan a drifting sprinkle of dust in this swirling world of men and ambition May be, it wasn t It wasn t necessary at all to read An Unnecessary Woman But I read it And I read her And read herEvery page Every day Multiple times In mornings and evenings In transit and while stationed Under dim lights Beneath cloudy skies I read her And met her And met myself And loved her And loved myself Was she I Not really She, a septuagenarian and I, almost four decades late She, a prisoner of Beiruti conservatism and I, a falcon of Indian liberalism She, a broken rhapsody of relationships and I, a supple bounty of companionship.And yet, she appeared familiar Almost like the reflection in a broken mirror which makes up for the lost pieces by producing the remnant image, in sparkling, contrasting sharpness She, Aaliya, was that remnant image There, within the periphery of what was visible, she cloned me She, a reluctant neighbor and I, an enthusiastic hermit She, with a saber tongue and I, with an acerbic voice She, with her back to the world and I, behind dark black glasses She, a passionate translator of Hamsun and Borges, Pessoa and Proust and I, a passionate reader of these great creatorsCrates, crates, boxes, and crates The translated manuscripts have the two books, French and English, affixed to the side of the box for identification Tolstoy, Gogol, and Hamsun Calvino, Borges, Schulz, N das, Nooteboom Ki , Karasu, and Kafka books of memory, disquiet, but not of laughter and forgettingAaliya parades on lyrical comprehensions and deadpan jibes She is fatally struck by the indifference settled on the eyes of the current generation towards the power of books She chokes at the comatose sentiment emanating from most streets of the post war Beirut the thuds of inertia and acceptance that grinds the air in most homes of her beloved land And I, well, don t feel far removed When random strangers in trains and uninvited visitors at home eye my book or the unruly stack of it with apparent incredulity and gravely visible shock at times, not to mention the spurt of useless blah blah aimed at me subsequently , I am swamped by the disdain that Aaliya writes with such flourish in her journal When poisonous bugs of conservatism, fanaticism, prejudice and stereotypes keep eating at the foundation of the shining body of a nation we are proudly building, I give a muffled cry at the workmen not reading enough to squash them with permanent antidote Aaliya and I are citizens of the reading world and would shiver if asked to step out of it unless the external world imbibed the ingredients of our present world Literature gives me life, and life kills me Was it necessary, then, to read An Unnecessary Woman Yes Indeed Because our antidote is literature, and our dawn, possibleAlso on my blog This was an unnecessary read for me until the last several pages in which I could fully appreciate the extent and expanse of the story, the character Prior to that, it was depressive and heavily laden with poetical and literary references that were hurting my head This is the story of 72 year old Aaliya, from Lebanon A reflection of her life which she deemed as unnecessary Her definition being she was a divorcee, a mediocre cook and childless Yet, she was highly educated, well versed in This was an unnecessary read for me until the last several pages in which I could fully appreciate the extent and expanse of the story, the character Prior to that, it was depressive and heavily laden with poetical and literary references that were hurting my head This is the story of 72 year old Aaliya, from Lebanon A reflection of her life which she deemed as unnecessary Her definition being she was a divorcee, a mediocre cook and childless Yet, she was highly educated, well versed in 3 languages and as a hobby, translated literary works This in a society that oppressed women, was impressive During difficult years, however, books became both her refuge and her prison.Overall 3.5 The words in my element flashed through my mind several times as I was reading this book because I was literally in my element, as if the adverb literally and the phrase in my element had been invented so that I could apply them to the experience of reading An Unnecessary Woman It seemed as if the book concerned me and my life in a very personal way, though I am not a self taught Lebanese intellectual, as is Rabih Alameddine s narrator, Aaliya Sohbi If the book spoke to me so intimately, The words in my element flashed through my mind several times as I was reading this book because I was literally in my element, as if the adverb literally and the phrase in my element had been invented so that I could apply them to the experience of reading An Unnecessary Woman It seemed as if the book concerned me and my life in a very personal way, though I am not a self taught Lebanese intellectual, as is Rabih Alameddine s narrator, Aaliya Sohbi If the book spoke to me so intimately, and surely to many like me, it is because it is about indulging in books the way other people indulge in fine cigars, or chocolate, or spa treatments It is about being immersed in literature to such an extent that literary associations and connections become part of the way a person operates in the world, every event in their lives recalling a quote or a character or a dilemma in literature Aaliya Sohbi is someone who believes, as I do, that we appreciate writers better when we copy out their words I have a notebook full of quotes which I very much enjoyed transcribing in black ink onto fresh white pages Today I may have shelved the notebook and the ink pen but I still enjoy typing interesting sentences into the updates feature here on goodreads I always feel I ve understood a writer s thoughts better when I ve taken the time to copy out some of her words, and the thoughts behind the words becomememorable as a result The reviews I post are a further effort to get under the skin of a reading experience Some people might call that a waste of time, an unnecessary activity Such reviews aren t read by anyone, they might say, or at the very best, they have the life of a mayfly, a brief twenty four hours in the goodreads sun What is the point of all that effort for twenty four brief hours, they ask I answer that the writing of the reviews has sealed the books into my psyche forever, but they don t understand such an incorporeal notion or see any utility in it whatsoever They would no doubt be evencategorically negative about the unnecessaryness of the pastime Alameddine has given his narrator Aaliya translates books into Arabic, but only books that she has read in translation, i.e books that have been translated from languages she doesn t speak into French and English, the two languages she does speak, along with Arabic She translates translations as a challenge to herself, and in an effort to understand the translated books better The translation of translations is entirely for her own pleasure and she never seeks to have them published a publisher once approached her requesting a translation into Arabic of an American celebrity s biography but she declined She takes a year with each translation, working from both the English and the French editions of the book, and when she has finished, she places the hand written sheets of paper, covered in beautiful Arabic script, carefully in a box which she seals On the lid, as a kind of inscription, she affixes the French and English versions she has used to make her Arabic conversion Then she places the box beside the pile of other such boxes in an unused room, a room that resembles a tomb in many ways, since it has no window and no one ever enters it, apart from herself, and then only once a year when she adds a new box She has never opened the lid of any box once it has been sealed I should say here that what I have described is revealed in the blurb of the book or in the early pages, and the story Alameddine gives us is only indirectly about Aaliya s translations She doesn t do any translating inside the pages of this book she s between translations, as it were, and the account of her Bloom like walk through the city of Beirut during a three day period at the end of December is very interesting, especially for her literature filled thoughts while rambling the streets, or while sipping tea in her apartment, or even while trying to avoid talking to her neighbors or her family But those aspects of the book, while very cleverly done, and a joy to read for the literary, philosophical and classical allusions, are not what I want to focus on If I ve stressed the translation aspect of Aaliya s life, it s because it allows me to examine that provoking word unnecessary in the title There are many themes in this book that I could focus on history and geography, philosophy and politics, literature and translation, family and friendship, birth and death, but I only want to deal with that one word, unnecessary To me, that word is like an electrified probe, it goads me, and I think it goaded Alameddine too, forcing him to write this book around the idea of it He is making a lot of points with that one word, and he draws on the writings and experiences of several authors to make his case, in particular Bruno Schulz Schulz, a Polish writer and artist, was shot in the ghetto at Drohobych, having initially been reprieved by an SS officer and labelled a necessary Jew unlike most of the population who, being unnecessary were sent to concentration camps or were shot immediately Schulz s temporary reprieve was ironically due to his artistic abilities the officer simply needed him to paint murals in his house Alameddine, by highlighting that anecdote, raises all sorts of questions about the label unnecessary in the eyes of Beiruti society and many other societies , a woman like Aaliya whose parents were Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, who is a divorced read discarded by her husband , childless bluestocking and in addition, an unbeliever , a woman who neither knits garments for her relatives, nor eternally chops vegetables for their endless meals, is almost the epitome of unnecessary.The notion of unecessary can also be applied to another writer referenced frequently in this book the author mentions over one hundred writers in all, and quotes quite a few of them The Portuguese writer and poet Fernando Pessoa was dismissed as a dandy in his lifetime and when he died he left a trunkful of unfinished and unpublished manuscripts His philosophy, the only attitude worthy of a superior man is to persist in an activity he recognizes is useless, to observe a discipline he knows is sterile, and to apply certain norms of philosophical and metaphysical thought that he considers utterly inconsequential, fits with Aaliya s unnecessary mode of existence almost perfectly Like Pessoa, she understands that her life s work is not of benefit to anyone but herself yet she is absolutely rigorous in all matters relating to that work, keeping to a strict schedule once she has selected a text to translate and working at it as if her life depended on it And her life does depend on it, because the making of the translation is everything to her whereas the end result, though not quite nothing, is much less important I m reminded of a Czech author whose work is very apropos of this notion of the unnecessary Bohumil Hrabal created a character in Too Loud a Solitude whose life was dedicated to the fabrication of art objects, which, though ephemeral, gave a last triumphant moment of glory to the piles of banned books destined for destruction by the Prague authorities For Hrabal s hero Hant , it is also only the process that counts the product is destroyed on completion and I wonder if I could have recalled the details of Hrabal s book if I hadn t written a review about it, a review which now lies on my gr shelves and may never see the light of a gr day again, but it doesn t matter, non curo, because the essence of the book will stay in my mind forever.Virginia Woolf said something in her diaries which echoes this idea of process versus result The truth is, that writing is the profound pleasure and being read the superficial and, again, could I have recalled that line had I not used it in my review of her Writer s Diary I suspect not Many writers are therefore giving us the same message that the exercise of writing is what matters the most And with that thought, it s time for me to bring this unnecessary exercise to a close though I m not too concerned about the conclusion as I wasn t very concerned with the ending of the book because the examination of the thoughts triggered by Alemeddine s title and by many of his words have satisfied me enough, andthan The usual mood that prevails while reading An Unnecessary Woman is something that can be observed during the time of a candid conversation with a fellow book lover who not only share your passion for books but also have similar reading preferences for most of the part Mention of a personal favorite writer here, an interesting anecdote there and embellishing such dreamlike atmosphere with some lovely quotes It s like a sensible pampering of a reader s soul in the most fun and exciting way pos The usual mood that prevails while reading An Unnecessary Woman is something that can be observed during the time of a candid conversation with a fellow book lover who not only share your passion for books but also have similar reading preferences for most of the part Mention of a personal favorite writer here, an interesting anecdote there and embellishing such dreamlike atmosphere with some lovely quotes It s like a sensible pampering of a reader s soul in the most fun and exciting way possible I m not sure that the discovery of love is necessarilyexquisite than the discovery of poetry, orsensuous for that matter.Under the perforated shade of Lebanese skyline, the windows of crumbling apartments are still dusty because of the nature s fury and human bestiality but Aaliya needs to go on with her life even when the life itself seems indifferent to her existence This is all acceptable to our protagonist as long as the disquiet of Pessoa empathizes with her world and Yourcenar s Hadrian is there to give her a royal company Her introversion is compensated through the regular wanderings within the pages of classics and contemporary literature alike which features the delightful motley of familiar book jackets on display that one look at them and you re sucked into a hypnotic spell of unadulterated beauty of wordsAh, the deliciousness of discovering a masterwork My heart begins to lift I can see myself sitting all day in my chair, immersed in lives, plots, and sentences, intoxicated by words and chimeras, paralyzed by satisfaction and contentment, reading until the deepening twilight, until I can no longer make out the words, until my mind begins to wander, until my aching muscles are no longer able to keep the book aloft Joy is the anticipation of joy But SNAP In a way, it s possible to both overestimate and underestimate this book Somewhere post 200 page mark, when the fantastic first impressions mellowed a bit, a kind of reality check appeared out of nowhere or maybe I failed to notice it before in my giddy excitement I know, I understand and I love the idea of such books but something seemed compromised here and that something was the narrative voice of Aaliya and subsequently Aaliya s not that unnecessary life Rabih took over that narrative and not in a convincing way and I can t give a convincing explanation as to what exactly I mean by that Simply put, what started out as clever went on to becoming too obvious and ceased to remain fascinating because of the lack of subtlety which I believe this novel demanded and deserved So all this bothered me to some extent but weighing it against the wonderful time I got out of my reading especially the laugh out loud humor and some evocative writing, the eventual deal turned out to be a worthy one So a recommended read with few caveats and you ll probably say something of the following nature after reading it a Now I know the brilliance other people vouched for.b I can t see what the fuss is all about.c It s great to good to uh oh but good nevertheless The ever ambivalent Me d Work in progress options I ll probably be incinerated with my books. Rabih Alameddine is a name dropper By page 61 of this really exceptional novel he had dropped Sebald, Bolano, Svevo, Pessoa, Javier Mar as, Dickens, Calvino, Balzac, Nabokov, Conrad, Donne, Bataille, Miller, Moravia, Shulz, Chekov, de Sade, Jong, Keats, Proulx, Garner, Rilke, Marquez, Burroughs, Mann, Becket, Welty, Saramago, Cioran and his favorite Arab writers of erotica al Tifashi, al Tijani and al Tusi He has something to say about each of them And then, in a flourish, in the next two pa Rabih Alameddine is a name dropper By page 61 of this really exceptional novel he had dropped Sebald, Bolano, Svevo, Pessoa, Javier Mar as, Dickens, Calvino, Balzac, Nabokov, Conrad, Donne, Bataille, Miller, Moravia, Shulz, Chekov, de Sade, Jong, Keats, Proulx, Garner, Rilke, Marquez, Burroughs, Mann, Becket, Welty, Saramago, Cioran and his favorite Arab writers of erotica al Tifashi, al Tijani and al Tusi He has something to say about each of them And then, in a flourish, in the next two pages, he rattles off Camus, Duras, Faulkner, Hemingway, D az, Hemon, Coetzee, Gordimer, Farah, Malouf, Kundera, Kadare, Tolstoy, Gogol, Hamsun, Borges, Nooteboom, Karasu, N das, Ki , and Kafka I may have missed a few and he doesn t stop there There will be much to say about Proust.Alameddine is able to do this without being as entirely gratuitous as Hollywood nudity by making his female protagonist, Aaliya Saleh, a bookstore employee, a thief of books from that same bookstore, and a solitary, secret translator of great literature.Aaliya is 72 After a very brief marriage, her impotent husband, a listless mosquito with a malfunctioning proboscis, in compliance with Lebanese law, stood before her in their living room and announced, Woman, you are divorced Tfeh, Aaliya remembers She is cynical and crusty, and happy to be alone with her books Although, she has less good to say about McEwan and Hemingway than she does about humanity in general I keep saying she, but it is of course really Alameddine speaking through her This is a novel for bibliophiles, a Sm rg sbord of literary allusions, opinions, even reviews But it is also a poem to the discovery of music, one that almost precisely mirrored my own Aaliya would see a reference to a musical piece in her reading and then seek out the music itself, first as vinyl but later on CD With limited funds, she wondered what artist, what composer, what orchestra to buy She liked the yellow label of Deutsche Grammophon, and figured Germans would know how to produce the loftiest of music, so that informed her selections It would be Pogorelich s Chopin she would hear It was a feeling of d j vu as I read this, remembering a college immersion into Hesse, and how that led me to the library to find St Matthew s Passion, and how, even now, the rows of yellow labels stare back at me, including Pogorelich s Chopin.But this book was not simply Alameddine showing off his shelves To speak of Love, he had Aaliya s friend write in her diary that My heart had momentarily found its pestle And he writes with humor You can tell how well a marriage is working by the number of bite marks on each partner s tongue Mr Hayek had none Of the city of his birth, where the events of the novel take place Beirut is the Elizabeth Taylor of cities insane, beautiful, tacky, falling apart, aging, and forever drama laden She ll also marry any infatuated suitor who promises to make her lifecomfortable, no matter how inappropriate he is.Alameddine quotes Alain Robbe Grillet to say that the worst thing to happen to the novel was the arrival of psychology If this were a novel, you would be able to figure out why my mother screamed Hah I ve read so many recent novels, particularly those published in the Anglo world, that are dull and trite because I m always supposed to infer causality Whoa Who you calling Anglo But, seriously, he really put his finger on something there, didn t he This was intelligent, controlled, poignant I read on the edge of my seat, not looking for what would happen next, but for what he would say next Like this I may be able to explain the difference between baroque and rococo, between South American magical realism and its counterparts in South Asia and sub Saharan Africa, between Camus s nihilism and Sartre s existentialism, between modernism and its post, but don t ask me to tell you the difference between the Nasserites and the Baathists Samir Kassir differentiates them thus Arab nationalists who converted to socialism and socialists newly alert to the mobilizing virtues of nationalism.Decipher that.Need I tell you that Baathists and Nasserites have killed each other by the busload One s first response is that these Beirutis must be savagely insane to murder each other for such trivial divergences Don t judge us too harshly At the heart of most antagonisms are irreconcilable similarities Hundred year wars were fought over whether Jesus was human in divine form or divine in human form Belief is murderous.Aaliya a life lived amongst music and books Epicurean Non fui fui non sum non curo. Update 1.99 kindle special Fabulous book at a great price in case you missed it I took one small issue with the book but already had enough discussions about it for a lifetime LolBut really a VERY enjoyable book 4.5 Rating Until I came to page 195 I was sure I was going to give this book a 5 star rating The positives for this book are STRONG The negative on the top half of page 195 does not sit right with me This is what The New York Times wrote about this book Update 1.99 kindle special Fabulous book at a great price in case you missed it I took one small issue with the book but already had enough discussions about it for a lifetime LolBut really a VERY enjoyable book 4.5 Rating Until I came to page 195 I was sure I was going to give this book a 5 star rating The positives for this book are STRONG The negative on the top half of page 195 does not sit right with me This is what The New York Times wrote about this book I almost agree An Unnecessary Woman is a meditation on, among other things, aging, politics, literature, loneliness, grief, and resilience If there are flaws to this beautiful and absorbing novel, they are not readily apparent YES THE FLAW on page 195 completely shifted my zen space of enjoyable reading experience What the author wrote at the top of page 195 did not ADD ANY value to the storytelling it wasn t worth the risk Being Jewish I was offended I would bet Israeli s might feel pissed But damn I don t want to make this entire review about one paragraph Yet make clear I didn t like it As for the rest of the book personal emotions aside for page 195 I LOVED LOVED EVERYTHING else The 72 year old narrator grabs your attention with the first sentence of the book and keeps it with every word she writes to its end The first sentence You could say I was thinking of other things when I shampooed my hair blue, and two glasses of red wine didn t help my concentration Other Quotes which stand out for me I long ago abandoned myself to a blind lust for the written word Literature is my sandbox In it I play, build my forts and castles, spend glorious time It is the world outside that box that gives me trouble I have adapted tamely, though not conventionally, to this visible world so I can retreat without much inconvenience into my inner world of books Transmuting this sandy metaphor, if literature is my sandbox, then the real world is my hourglass an hourglass that drains grain by grain Literature gives me life, and life kills me Well, life kills everyoneIn one of the few Hemingway stories that I don t find wholly insufferable, Hills Like White Elephants , I m interested in something the author wrote the narrator s voice , about her take on Hemingway and American writers I found it fascinating what the narrator thought about American contemporary writers She said, its only American writers that don t seem to think they need to be intellectuals A bold statement maybe a little arrogant, to boot Pessoa,a connoisseur of alienation than even Flaubert, wrote I ve surrounded the garden of my being with high iron gratingsimposing than any stone wall in such a way that I can perfectly see others while perfectly excluding them, keeping them in their place as others Wonderful book I loved the literature parts the best Several authors I don t know Bruno Schulz, Federico Garcia Lorca to name a couple yet, I plan to look them up Whewwell, this review turned out longer than I should be asking any of you to read.Please forgive me Its a phenomenal book yes, I felt angry with the narrators opinion having a raw gut reaction its just too personal for me , otherwise, this novel is beautiful Worth reading


About the Author: Rabih Alameddine

Rabih Alameddine Arabic was born in Amman, Jordan to Lebanese parents, and grew up in Kuwait and Lebanon He was educated in England and America, and has an engineering degree from UCLA and an MBA from the University of San Francisco.


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