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War of the encyclopaedists : a novel by…

War of the encyclopaedists : a novel (edition 2015)

by Christopher Gerald Robinson, Gavin Ford Kovite

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623282,393 (3.83)1
Title:War of the encyclopaedists : a novel
Authors:Christopher Gerald Robinson
Other authors:Gavin Ford Kovite
Info:New York : Scribner, 2015.
Collections:Read in 2016

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War of the Encyclopaedists by Christopher Robinson



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I have mixed feelings about this book although the writing was very good. The Wiki page (which I thought was a very unique idea) sharing the experiences of the two protagonists, despite the book's synopsis, plays a very small role in the overall narrative, which was a bit disappointing. I also found the book to be overly long; this may just be a personal preference, but I didn't think there was anything that needed to be said in this book that couldn't have been said in less than the 448 pages that make up the book. However, I thought the authors did a great job of blending their voices. I was unable to tell which writer wrote which part of the book which is a rare occurrence. The narrative was seamless and the writing quite good. The character development was excellent, although I can't say that I really cared for any of the characters (they are not a particularly likable bunch). Some parts of the book seemed to be simply dropped in and didn't really have anything to do with the overall story (which bolsters my point about the length). Overall this is an excellent character study and worth the read. ( )
  Maureen_McCombs | Aug 19, 2016 |
While this is a beautifully written book, it is not a compelling story. Mickey and Halifal became instant friends, partied together where they met a free spirit named Mani, and then are separated when Hal continues on the college in Boston while Mickey’s unit is called to Iraq. Mani is a tie that continues to bind them as she married Mickey for his benefits before he shipped off despite being in love with Hal, who she ends up with. Mickey has a short affair with Tricia in Iraq, but the war itself brings too many pressures on the couple. What is unique is that the men remain in some communication through a Wikipedia page they create and maintain throughout the story. ( )
  Susan.Macura | Nov 26, 2015 |
WAR OF THE ENCYCLOPAEDISTS, by Christopher Robinson & Gavin Kovite.

This novel is a fascinating experiment in co-writing that 'totally works,' as someone much younger than I might say. And that's probably a good way to begin, since I'm pretty sure ENCYCLOPAEDISTS is directed at a much younger audience than me. Full disclosure: I'm seventy-one, and this is a book about twenty-somethings, and it provided me with a great peek into their world in the early years of the twenty-first century. And it's a confusing one. Call this a guy-sorta BFF book, okay? Except I'm not really sure about the 'forever' part, because, in my experience, guys don't often maintain those early best friendships. The BFF is more of a gal-thing, I think.

But I started to comment on the successfulness of the co-writer thing. I'm trying to think of the last time I read such a good book written by two people. I'm digging way back even, and all I can come up with right off the top of my head is Nordhoff and Hall's MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY, and boy was that a long time ago! First published in the thirties, although I read it back in the sixties.

Although I'm pretty sure grad student Halifax Corderoy and Army 1LT Mickey Montauk bear little resemblance to Fletcher Christian and Captain Bligh, they are a couple of pretty engaging characters, and, even though their story takes place in 2004-2005 time frame, I chuckled my way through some of the 'guy things' in here, both civilian and military, that I remember from my own youthful years (civilian and military, as I've been both soldier [twice] and grad student) in the sixties and seventies. So yeah, many of the familiar 'rites of passage' I recognized: the drinking, the bonding by puking together, the solitary sex (the 'sock on the doorknob' cracked me up). It was the other stuff - video games, internet surfing, online porn, the casual sex and aimlessness - that I had trouble relating to. Wrong generation, obviously.

What this book does best, I think, is to show the disconnect between the civilian populace (represented by Hal Corderoy and the girl, Mani) and the all-volunteer army (Montauk and the men in his unit). Mani, Hal's girlfriend and Mickey's wife (you'll have to read the book to get this), says it pretty well in a letter to Mickey, calling the Iraq conflict "this weirdly fake war" -

"Nobody around here even thinks about it except to think how stupid it is, and how much they're embarrassed by it, and how much they hate Bush, of course."

And therein lies the dramatic tension that binds this co-authored book together. Hal, blundering his way along as a grad school dropout, maybe in love with his best friend's wife. And Mickey, trying to deal with the dangerous realities of his deployment to Baghdad while still grappling with his feelings for Mani. The book is laid out in sections alternating between Boston and Baghdad's mean - and deadly - streets. And each section ends with a philosophical, often angry or irreverent Wikipedia entry for "The Encyclopaedists," a roundabout way for Hal and Mickey to keep in touch.

This is quite a book. It really is. Politically probing, funny, tender, at times extremely moving. It paints a poignant picture of a generation enduring many of the normal rites of passage, sometimes marking time, other times moving forward - trying to figure out what comes next. And the biggest mystery is how two guys managed to write this great book together, how seamlessly it all fits together. That's one hell of a hat trick, ya know? And my hat is off to Robinson and Kovite. They may not turn out to be this century's Nordhoff and Hall, but then again ...? Very highly recommended. (Four and a half stars - I'd have given it five, but I'm just not quite the right generation.) ( )
  TimBazzett | Jul 5, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christopher Robinsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kovite, Gavinmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Best friends separated by global events after college, Mickey Montauk, deployed to Baghdad with his National Guard unit, and Halifax Corderoy, struggling with disappointment and his new roommate, keep in touch with one another by editing a Wikipedia article about themselves.… (more)

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