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I Am Radar by Reif Larsen
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I Am Radar (2015)

by Reif Larsen

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During a big black out Radar is born, an ebony skinned baby, to his white parents. His mother's search for an explanation (and possibly a cure) brings them to Norway to a rather peculiar set of artists, physicists and puppeteers.

I don't know where to start. This was definitely different from what I expected, but in a good way. Even though it's quite the story, coming in at over 650 pages, and at times the story is a bit slow, it felt like so much was going on all at once. Radar may be the book's namesake, he didn't feel like the main character.

Interspersed with Radar's story, the book follows the lives of several other people in a number of 20th century conflicts. It is during these flashback, which I think make up at least half of the book, that Radar is completely absent. It also takes quite a while before it becomes clear just how these stories fit together in the main story.

However, I was never bored and in fact it was an easier read than I at first expected. While at times it felt a bit like it was trying too much to be the next special novel, I still enjoyed it a lot and would recommend it.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! ( )
  Floratina | May 26, 2016 |
In the description of "I Am Radar", it says the book is somewhat about a group of performers who stage amazing and elaborate performances in the middle of nowhere and witnessed by no one. Apparently, these performances are organized by some of the world's most talented individuals and cover a variety of topics so deep (such as quantum physics, philosophical questions on the nature of reality, etc.) that, even if seen by an audience, it would completely go over the heads of the common man.

In my opinion, this is a great summary of the book itself. After all, no matter how revolutionary or insightful a performance is, you have to wonder what's the meaning if no one ever sees it. I thought the book itself was very professionally written and all the correct literary techniques are used to draw into the heads and the lives of the various characters in the story. Yet, after only a few chapters into the book, I started to wonder what the purpose of it all was. You read about someone's coming of age story and yet it seems to serves no purpose at all in the grand scheme of the book. In one of the book's supposedly revolutionary performances, puppets with TV for heads are wonderously made to dance without strings and there are mathematical equations of some universal truth that flashes on the stage in the background. Interesting, yes. But I don't get it.

One of the troup's leaders defends against this very skepticism by saying that even if no one sees the performance or knows that it even existed, the universe itself sees it and this can change the world. So perhaps this book is indeed a masterpiece that only the universe and maybe even a few individuals can truly appreciate. But for most readers, I would say you can safetly live your lives happily not reading it or even ever knowing it has existed. ( )
  kikowatzy | Jul 19, 2015 |
Radar Racmanovic is born black to white parents. In searching for a way to "cure" Radar's problem, his parents meet a secretive group of scientists who stage performance art in war-torn countries. ( )
  lilibrarian | Jul 10, 2015 |
It's very difficult to approach reviewing this book, because there is just so much to it, stretching to nearly 650 pages.

There were certainly aspects of it that I liked. It has a unique premise and beginning, and some of the writing is really wonderful, at least in the more descriptive parts of the narrative. There is a lot of complexity to it, and intriguing snapshots of certain characters really drew me in.

However, there are also a lot of things I didn't like. The endless references to fake documents and books, as well as scientific or historical (pseudo?) information, became tedious after awhile. Most of the conversations, especially involving Radar, were so mundane and dull, and really took away from the parts of the book that were really well-written. While some of the characters were intriguing, the title character seemed flat and boring (and undeserving of the "lead" role). Ultimately, the whole premise of a group of people putting on performances without an audience just didn't resonate with me, and made it feel like there wasn't a good aim for the whole story (and the disappointing ending bears that out).

Larsen certainly tried to take on a great deal with this book, but I just don't think he quite succeeded. ( )
  digitalmaven | May 15, 2015 |
I have just closed the covers of I Am Radar: A Novel by Reif Larsen after two days of intensive reading. I'm still not sure what I read. This book takes you back and forth through time and and lives of several different focal character. At some point you learn that there have a connection or two, but Exactly the point of this story is still in question as far as I'm concerned. About halfway through, my interest was piqued, and that is what led to me dedicating another day to this substantial read. Sadly, the event did not manage to hold my interest as it might have, because the story spiraled off to another place and time.

I want to say that the entire story centers on Radar Radmanovic. I honestly don't believe I can say that. There are too many twists and turns and long and very winding paths in this book. He is certainly one f the most central figures, I can say that. I can also say that I disliked his mother from very early on, and I didn't like her any better when I closed the book. What I can say, and emphatically, is that this book would have benefited from some editing. It seems as though the author felt that the more words the better, but that is not necessarily the case.

Certainly, this book touches on some interesting topics, such as quantum physics, Nicola Tesla, the importance of books, history and even relationships. But they are all so strangled with words that it was difficult to stay with it. I am nothing if not determined, however. Also, I wanted to be done with it and get my life back, so I carried on. As I mentioned, I was no more enlightened about the point of this story at the end, then I was at the beginning. There are some interesting characters and the are certainly all entangled with each other and certain historic events, and imagined events as well. One star devoted to some good character development, and one for the possibilities this story held. ( )
  mckait | Apr 8, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Mr. Larsen’s bristling erudition too easily gets in the way of his ability to rivet attention.
added by ozzer | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (Feb 19, 2015)
 
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