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The Size of the World by Joan Silber

The Size of the World (2008)

by Joan Silber

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10716112,824 (3.64)27



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These are lovely but the stories never really added up to anything larger. I think if it hadn't been tagged as a novel, I would have been looking for connections and been disappointed. It was hard for me to feel connected to the characters. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A pretty and fairly satisfying book -- a backyard summertime afternoon read. For me, the subject matter makes it a little forgettable, but I would recommend it to someone with more of an interest in the subject matter. ( )
  climbingtree | May 4, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This really is a beautiful book -- a series of interconnected stories that move around the world as well as backward and forward in time. Previous reviewers have taken Silber to task because the novel is so loosely connected, but its structure makes a good deal more sense when one things about it musically. Each story acts as a movement, themes are brought forward, recapitulated, given variation, etc. The novel ends where it begins. Because of this -- and because of the accreted effect of Silber's lyrical prose -- it's a book best read in a single sitting, or over the course of a few reading sessions on consecutive days. Otherwise, the music starts to fade a little, and it's perhaps harder to pick up again than it should be. ( )
  cornerhouse | Oct 5, 2009 |
I love the way this book is organized around images and experiences of Thailand. And even though this is really a collection of interconnected stories, the way they intersect is fluid and interesting--novel-like, a true hybrid. It's a beautiful book. ( )
  solicitouslibrarian | Aug 18, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The series of interconnected stories which begins and ends in Vietnam are beautifully written, but hard to get through. Silber is a good writer, but I just could not focus enough on why I should care about these characters. The theme of "its a small world" is obvious here, but I just didn't care. ( )
  kepitcher | Aug 15, 2009 |
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Silber’s half-dozen linked stories bounce between these poles. Her narrators are all Americans (one a transplant from Sicily but very much an American) who find their provincialism challenged by exposure to another land, or to someone who’s been transformed by such exposure. Impossible: “I hadn’t imagined such a place, how could I have?” Necessary: “Each separate corner of the world was obsessed with its own set of the familiar, the mass of fine points its residents were sure every human had to know” — so much so that the whole world “was populated by idiots savants, who knew what they knew very well and not all that much else.” The “that much else” is what Silber’s six narrators find out.
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In memory of my brother, Ralph
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I used to make my father repeat the names of where he'd fought in the Pacific Front.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 039305909X, Hardcover)

Love and family loyalty meet up with the allure of far-off vistas in elegant new fiction by an acclaimed novelist.

A richly imagined novel—set in wartime Vietnam, Thailand, Mexico, Sicily, and contemporary America—about men and women whose jolting encounters with the unfamiliar force them to realize how many "riffs there are to being human." Travelers, colonials, immigrants, and returned ex-pats meet or pass one another in narratives spanning lifetimes.

In the book's opening, an engineer in Vietnam is shaken to discover why his company's planes are getting lost. A modern marriage between a Thai Muslim and an American woman leads to a terrible family fight. In 1920s Siam a young woman experiences the colonial stance of her tin-prospecting brother. The last section returns the brother to the States, older now but ever in love with Asian women.

Love, loss, yearning, self-delusion, and forgiveness are here in ways fresh and surprising. And in the tradition of E. M. Forster, seeing the size of the world changes the meaning of home-sickness for all the characters.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:02 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

An engineer in Vietnam is shaken when he discovers why his company's planes are getting lost, a marriage between a Thai Muslim and an American woman sparks a terrible family fight, and a young woman in 1920s Siam experiences her brother's colonial stance.… (more)

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 039305909X, 0393334899

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