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Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje

Divisadero (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Michael Ondaatje

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1,892733,624 (3.51)119
Authors:Michael Ondaatje
Info:Knopf (2007), Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library, Owned
Tags:Canadian, Fiction, 2007, Met, Signed, Giller Shortlist, GG, IMPAC Longlist,

Work details

Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje (2007)

  1. 00
    Three Junes by Julia Glass (eveninglightwriter)
    eveninglightwriter: While Ondaatje is definitly more poetic in his descriptions, Julia Glass is just as enjoyable. I really felt myself swept away by both books. There seems to be a strong sense of place and time that both writers portray beautifully.

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» See also 119 mentions

English (69)  French (1)  Norwegian (1)  All (71)
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
Still enraptured by the echo of the book, its pluristic stories, its fragmented parallels, and intertwined chronologies. Each character is complex in his/her rudimentary need, hurt, distance, memory, and desire. Each story is a vocal cry of what remains hidden and painful; each history and scar, a viable window into the heart of human frailty, hopelessness, yearning, and courage. It's a potent book! ( )
  ZaraD.Garcia-Alvarez | Jun 6, 2017 |
As of July 2016, the average LibraryThing rating for this book is 3.51. After reading and alternately speed reading through the second half of the book, I actually feel that average rating is generous.

Divisadero was a complete disappointment from start to finish. The only interest it held for me was the connection to California, as I am familiar with some of the settings. Otherwise the book was fragmented, the characters were flat, parts of the story were boring and the lack of dialogue between characters drove me nuts.

The worst aspect was the author began with one story and set of characters, abandoned them midway through the book and started in with a different set of characters in the past. The only connection between the two was Anna (depicted in the first part of the book) and her research about French poet Lucien Segura. The second part of the book morphed into a story about Segura and for the most part I was left thinking, WTH happened? There are the makings of two independent books here. I guess this was supposed to be some literary device in which readers are left to draw conclusions about the first set of characters by comparing and divining the parallels in their story with the second set of characters.

The is the first novel I have read by Michael Ondaatje and unfortunately it wasn't a pleasant reading experience. Although I understand some readers liked this novel and love the author's writing style, it just didn't work for me. This is one time I am especially jumping for joy that I bought a used copy for 99 cents. Perhaps Ondaatje's other novel The English Patient would be more to my liking and it certainly has a much higher rating on LibraryThing.

Recommended For: I am not really sure. Maybe lovers of literary fiction who enjoy being put through the wringer to make sense of a story and don't need to feel connected to the characters. ( )
  Lisa805 | Jul 29, 2016 |
Intimate and dream-like character exploration: Ondaatje at his best. ( )
  Vivl | Jan 8, 2016 |
Gorgeous writing, but while I was captivated for the first two thirds, i couldn't get into the last third. ( )
  cyrenitis | Dec 2, 2015 |
Leaves you with the abiding sense of how all of our lives affect and are affected by, overlap with and interact with, the lives of others across time and geography. ( )
  Phyllis.Mann | Jul 13, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Ondaatjeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Walz, MelanieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For John and Beverly
and in loving memory of Creon Corea
- remembered by us as 'Egilly"
First words
When I came to lie in your arms, you sometimes ask me in which historical moment do I wish to exist.
Wij hebben kunst opdat wij niet door de waarheid zullen worden vernietigd (Nietzsche)
“There is the hidden presence of others in us, even those we have known briefly. We contain them for the rest of our lives, at every border that we cross.”
So we fall in love with ghosts.
With memory, with the reflection of an echo, a gate opens both ways. We can circle time. A paragraph or an episode from another era will haunt us in the night, as the words of a stranger can.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307266354, Hardcover)

From the celebrated author of The English Patient, comes another breathtaking, unforgettable story, this time about a family torn apart by an act of violence. Divisadero is a rich and rewarding read, one that Jhumpa Lahiri, in her guest review for Amazon.com (see below), calls "Ondaatje's finest novel to date." --Daphne Durham

Guest Reviewer: Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri was awarded the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, as well as the PEN/Hemingway Award for her mesmerizing debut collection of stories, Interpreter of Maladies. Her poignant and powerful debut novel, The Namesake was adapted by screenwriter Sooni Taraporevala, and released in theaters in 2007.

My life always stops for a new book by Michael Ondaatje. I began Divisadero as soon as it came into my possession and over the course of a few evenings was captivated by Ondaatje's finest novel to date. The story is simple, almost mythical, stemming from a family on a California farm that is ruptured just as it is about to begin. Two daughters, Anna and Claire, are raised not just as siblings but with the intense bond of twins, interchangeable, inseparable. Coop, a boy from a neighboring farm, is folded into the girls' lives as a hired hand and quasi-brother. Anna, Claire, and Coop form a triangle that is intimate and interdependent, a triangle that brutally explodes less than thirty pages into the book. We are left with a handful of glass, both narratively and thematically. But Divisadero is a deeply ordered, full-bodied work, and the fragmented characters, severed from their shared past, persevere in relation to one another, illuminating both what it means to belong to a family and what it means to be alone in the world. The notion of twins, of one becoming two, pervades the novel, and so the farm in California is mirrored by a farm in France, the setting for another plot line in the second half of the book and giving us, in a sense, two novels in one. But the stories are not only connected but calibrated by Ondaatje to reveal a haunting pattern of parallels, echoes, and reflections across time and place. Like Nabokov, another master of twinning, Ondaatje's method is deliberate but discreet, and it was only in rereading this beautiful book--which I wanted to do as soon as I finished it--that the intricate play of doubles was revealed. Every sign of the author's genius is here: the searing imagery, the incandescent writing, the calm probing of life's most turbulent and devastating experiences. No one writes as affectingly about passion, about time and memory, about violence--subjects that have shaped Ondaatje's previous novels. But there is a greater muscularity to Divisadero, an intensity born from its restraint. Episodes are boiled down to their essential elements, distilled but dramatic, resulting in a mosaic of profound dignity, with an elegiac quietude that only the greatest of writers can achieve. --Jhumpa Lahiri

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:28 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

In California, then the Nevada casino's, 1970 a makeshift family of a father, daughter, adopted daughter and farm hand's lives are shattered by a traumatic event and they are sent off on separate courses.

(summary from another edition)

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Average: (3.51)
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