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Pravda: A Novel by Edward Docx
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Pravda: A Novel (edition 2008)

by Edward Docx

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124797,109 (3.36)18
I think this is a marvelous piece of literature! The plot, characters, and writing are all marvelous. I keep a reading journal, in which I include quotes that I like along with interesting ideas from a novel. The list is equally long for this book. Docx starts with the death of a wife, mother, and mystery. He then sets up pairs of characters who play off of each other through a difficult, soul-searching period of their lives. The pairs include twins, two gay lovers, an ex-seminary student/heroin addict and a brilliant struggling pianist, the past and the present, childhood v. adulthood, mother v. father. I might normally give a novel 4 versus 5 stars because there are a few slow, overly drawn out periods in the story, but the vast majority of this novel merits 5 stars for story, ideas, characters and some lovely prose! ( )
  hemlokgang | Jun 12, 2012 |
Showing 7 of 7
I picked up this book based on the Russian title - "pravda" means "truth" in Russian. Some of the "truth" started emerging early in the book, but the most shocking part is revealed in the last pages.

I have never heard of the author but was intrigued. The book was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. To say that this is a very insightful book about a dysfunctional family is to say very little. It is much more than that. A story of agony and turmoil. With a lot of subthemes. In describing books, we often talk about "developed" or "not so developed" characters. Well, I felt that this author actually lived through his characters, every one of them.

The writing style at first appears a bit pretentious but then it grows on you, and in the end I can only call it very eloquent. At times, even too wordy - the author has the tendency of enhancing on the description by adding on to it in subsequent sentences, each one with a slightly different shade (here is the most succinct example of it: "... a wearer of grievance, a bearer of grudge").

All in all, I was quite taken with the writing - it was Mr. Docx's second book but it felt as if I were reading a seasoned writer. I also felt a little influence of Dostoevsky here. The story unravels slowly, as if peeling off the layers of the plot, and in the end there is quite an unexpected surprise. I must also mention his superb (if highly ironic!) description of conservatives and liberals in England (or it can be applied to any place) and his intriguingly sound take on Russian character. I was impressed with the author's knowledge of Russian words, all except one name (Artyom), spelled correctly, which, sadly, is not the case with all novels using Russian phraseology. ( )
1 vote Clara53 | Feb 17, 2016 |
The story was okay, the writing was well done but WAY too wordy for my taste. I prefer an author who says a lot with fewer words... I didn't think I would ever finish. ( )
  viviennestrauss | Jan 17, 2016 |
I found the prose of this writer to be exquisite. The story was very human and interesting and threw quite a curve ball right at the very end. I highly recommend this. ( )
  debbie.menzel | Feb 6, 2014 |
There was some really nice wordsmithery in there. In fact, I'm kind of regretting having returned it to the library so promptly upon finishing it - now I feel as if both the book and I would benefit from a closer read of several sections. ( )
  cat-ballou | Apr 2, 2013 |
I think this is a marvelous piece of literature! The plot, characters, and writing are all marvelous. I keep a reading journal, in which I include quotes that I like along with interesting ideas from a novel. The list is equally long for this book. Docx starts with the death of a wife, mother, and mystery. He then sets up pairs of characters who play off of each other through a difficult, soul-searching period of their lives. The pairs include twins, two gay lovers, an ex-seminary student/heroin addict and a brilliant struggling pianist, the past and the present, childhood v. adulthood, mother v. father. I might normally give a novel 4 versus 5 stars because there are a few slow, overly drawn out periods in the story, but the vast majority of this novel merits 5 stars for story, ideas, characters and some lovely prose! ( )
  hemlokgang | Jun 12, 2012 |
This is a story about a pair of adult non-identical twins who begin trying to untangle the truth about their family history, and sort out their own unravelling lives, after their mother dies. The book takes place in London, New York and, to a great extent, Petersberg.

I almost gave up on this book on page 19 when I came upon the following passage:

"But just the same, she dared not allow her mind to look up, for she sensed that the tattered images of her dreams were still hung high on the masts of her consciousness like the ragged remainders of sails flapping after a storm."

I thought, "Uh oh. 380 more pages of this? Doesn't (I had to take a look) Mariner Books have editors?"

But I decided to keep on with it for a while longer. It turns out the prose only gets that flabby intermittently. Otherwise, although Docx does seem to be in love with the sound of his own voice just a little, this novel turned out to be quite readable, if dense in spots.

It's the sort of book wherein the plot is advanced not in any real linear way, but in chunks of character description and observation. However, the reader's interest remains engaged as the two protagonists, and the several characters whose stories connect with theirs, get on with their search.

There is depression galore in this narrative, there's nothing light about the story or the storytelling. In fact, I think Docx could use a bit lighter touch in places. But I think the book was well worth reading. ( )
  rocketjk | Sep 4, 2008 |
Showing 7 of 7

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