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A Guide for the Perplexed by Dara Horn
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A Guide for the Perplexed (2013)

by Dara Horn

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Very nicely split between three different time periods, yet all well-connected, after a bit, and excellent women's points of view without being overtly feminist. Very very nice example of female solidarity across religious and maybe even class lines.
I love her veiled critique of our modern social media which creates a tendency to wipe out 'real' memory, that is, to wipe out our own personal memory of events or people after 'posting' memories or photos to the internet. Very good effective arguments in favor and against the possible uses of any given technology, and excellent reversals of the roles of the older/younger siblings, echoing the classic sibling rivalries throughout the Jewish Bible. And most chilling ending, after the amazing sacrifice near the end. Very well done. ( )
  FourFreedoms | May 17, 2019 |
Slight SPOILER: While the rest of the book was interesting, what I found most important was the very end: In many stories and in real life, we often want to paint a false, pretty picture of a person and his or her relationships with others, not realizing the negative consequences of doing so. To not spoil everything in this story, let me give an example from another one: A man meets the woman who had an affair with his father when he was a child. She tells the son that they broke up because the father loved his family too much to stay with her. Actually, she broke off the relationship. The problem is that the son had grown up feeling unloved and rejected (as he should have) and now was being told that his view of the world was wrong. ( )
  raizel | May 13, 2019 |
Very nicely split between three different time periods, yet all well-connected, after a bit, and excellent women's points of view without being overtly feminist. Very very nice example of female solidarity across religious and maybe even class lines.
I love her veiled critique of our modern social media which creates a tendency to wipe out 'real' memory, that is, to wipe out our own personal memory of events or people after 'posting' memories or photos to the internet. Very good effective arguments in favor and against the possible uses of any given technology, and excellent reversals of the roles of the older/younger siblings, echoing the classic sibling rivalries throughout the Jewish Bible. And most chilling ending, after the amazing sacrifice near the end. Very well done. ( )
  ShiraDest | Mar 6, 2019 |
Strong themes of envy and a feeling of guilt towards siblings, as well the way we categorize and store memories, and then use them later. Strong religious overtones but it wasn't too much to handle, especially as it was always presented as the conflict between God's will (could be reinterpreted as "fate") and free will, and a reasonable person contemplating how the two balance one another. ( )
  nheredia05 | Jun 12, 2018 |
What do a modern-day app programmer, Solomon Schechter and Maimonides have in common? Without spoiling the plot, it has something to do with the vast number of photos and videos many of us are constantly creating to document our lives. It may sometimes feel like overkill, but if this vast collection were discovered centuries in the future, would it be fascinating to researchers or just dumped? This question underlies A Guide for the Perplexed, a fascinating novel about recording our lives, among other things.

The modern story line is the most prominent, featuring a thorny relationship between Josie, the computer programmer, and her sister, along with a dramatic kidnapping in Cairo’s City of the Dead. But the segments featuring Schechter and Maimonides are also quite interesting. Was Maimonides in search of a cure for asthma? This and other historical tidbits will add to your enjoyment of this thought-provoking book. The plot will keep your attention, and readers with an interest in archival material will find this a particularly interesting read. ( )
  cavlibrary | Feb 1, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
“A Guide for the Perplexed” has three overlapping narratives. The first is a retelling of the biblical story of Joseph and his brothers, as seen through the lives of the present-day sisters Josie and Judith Ashkenazi.

The Genizah...leads to the book’s two other narrative threads, both inspired by real-life people: the 12th-century Jewish philosopher and physician Moses Maimonides, whose “Guide for the Perplexed” explores the relationship between faith and reason, and the 19th-century Cambridge professor Solomon Schechter, who (before he became a leader in the American Jewish community) gained academic fame for his 1896 discovery in Cairo of the world’s best-known genizah: a synagogue’s storage room for documents that, for religious reasons, can’t be thrown away.
 
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Dedication
For Maya, Ari, Eli, and Ronen-who will forget what I remember, and who will remember what I forget
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What happens to days that disappear?
Quotations
Seek not what is hidden from you...You have no business with the secret things.
There are some that have left a name, so that men declare their praise.  And there are some who have no name, who have perished as though they had not lived.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393064891, Hardcover)

A thrilling new novel exploring how memory shapes the soul, by “an astonishing storyteller” (Ángel Gurría-Quintana, Financial Times).

Software prodigy Josie Ashkenazi has invented a program that records everything its users do. When an Egyptian library invites her to visit as a consultant, her jealous sister Judith persuades her to go. But in Egypt’s postrevolutionary chaos, Josie is kidnapped—leaving Judith free to usurp her sister’s life, including her husband and daughter, while Josie’s talent for preserving memories becomes her only hope of escape.

A century earlier, Solomon Schechter, a Cambridge professor, hunts for a medieval archive hidden in a Cairo synagogue. What he finds will reveal the power and danger of the world Josie’s work brings into being: a world where nothing is ever forgotten.

Interweaving stories from Genesis, medieval philosophy, and the digital frontier, A Guide for the Perplexed is a spellbinding tale sure to bring a vast new readership to the acclaimed work of Dara Horn.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:14 -0400)

While consulting at an Egyptian library, software prodigy Josie Ashkenazi is kidnapped and her talent for preserving memories becomes her only means of escape as the power of her ingenious work is revealed, while jealous sister Judith takes over Josie's life at home.… (more)

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