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The Instructions by Adam Levin

The Instructions (original 2010; edition 2011)

by Adam Levin

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4391723,910 (4.09)18
Title:The Instructions
Authors:Adam Levin
Info:McSweeney's (2011), Edition: First Trade Paper Edition, Paperback, 1026 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

Work details

The Instructions by Adam Levin (2010)

  1. 10
    Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (hairball)
    hairball: If you liked Infinite Jest, you will like The Instructions, but even if you didn't like IJ, you should try it.
  2. 00
    Call it Sleep by Henry Roth (hairball)

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» See also 18 mentions

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It took me a couple of hundred pages to get into this book, and for a couple of hundred after that, I thought I would like it. Then I felt like I was just wasting time and wound up skimming the last several hundred. My problem with this book is that I couldn't find very much in it that was real. I don't mean that I found the plot unrealistic--of course it is--but even in the craziest fantasy, there has to be something that seems true. Here, Gurion's relationship with his parents seems true, and I liked those parts. And I do think that if a child like Gurion existed, his writings would be long and rambly and crazy like this book, so in a sense, the author did a good job in creating that character. But no one would want to read the crazy writings of a ten-year-old who thinks he might be the messiah, and that's where the problem comes in. There are just pages and pages and pages of internal monologues and weird conversations between the kids, none of which advance the plot or develop the characters. And the kids' characters and relationships are not well developed--most of them seem flat, and the motivations for their actions are either un clear or cliched. I felt that the author was too invested in his own cleverness and needed to listen to a good editor who could have told him to take a good idea and some good bits and rework it to cut out all the nonsense in between. ( )
  carlym | Jan 24, 2016 |
And it took less than three months! ( )
  dtn620 | May 22, 2014 |
I know this much is true.

Or I think this. Suspect this. Realize this.

I know that this is the childhood of Infinite Jest before it was exposed to its titular component. I know that nothing is sacred, least of all childhood, which suffers on its sanctified pedestal. I know ideology and theology and coprology and the razors they stretch tight around the skin. I know how the blades slip into the throat in childhood, and how the ability to spit them at another screams itself out in adulthood. I know that ability, to harness your damage to your own purposes, to be the true determination of being an adult.

I know that if you act like a child, you will be treated as a child. I know that if you are a child, and act like an adult, you will be disregarded as a child. I know that if you are a child, you will be hit as an adult. I know that if you are a child, you will be molested as an adult. I know that if you are a child, you will be beaten as an adult. I know that if you are a child, you will be raped as an adult. I know that if you are a child, you will be blamed for the actions of the father as an adult, you will be blamed for the beliefs of your mother as an adult, and you will be condemned for your skin and your creed and your being. As an adult.

I know that if you are a child, and act like an adult, you will be feared beyond belief.

I know that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I know that the road to hell is the path of least resistance. I know that the road to life is the path of most conviction, the path of least analysis, the path of tropes and logos and prejudices shortchanged into social slogans that lubricate your lifestyle and damage everything in its wake.

I know that WE DAMAGE WE is tennis.

I know that life is beautiful and love is beautiful. I know that a sound mind in a sound body is beautiful. I know that knowledge is beautiful, and that conviction is beautiful, and that reasoning is beautiful. I know that appreciation of and willingness towards these qualities is beautiful.

I know that misguided praise of all this is as equally damaging as condemnation.

I know that a child is not empty. I know that an adult is not full. I know that no one can truly say where one ends and the other begins, and anyone who uses age as reasoning confuses the length of life experience with humanity. Anyone who uses cooperation with a ideological system, which grinds and grinds and grinds, as reasoning confuses mirroring the crowd with humanity. Anyone who uses might as reasoning does not know humanity. In other words, fuck them. They know nothing.

I know that we try, and we try, and we try. I know that we bleed, I know that we fall, I know that we suffer. I know that we are objectified. I know that we objectify. I know that we make others suffer, we make others fall, we make others bleed. I know that we try, and we try, and we try.

I do not know the ending. No one does. Perhaps it will all be for something. Perhaps not. Does it matter, truly? Does closure really matter that much to you?

Who am I kidding. Of course it does. We would not be having this conversation otherwise. ( )
1 vote Korrick | Apr 8, 2013 |
Okay so Cait totally splooshes over this and it gets, y'know, all the attention and all. I could try it out.
  AlCracka | Apr 2, 2013 |
A song so appropriate it was referenced in the book: You And Whose Army

I don't think that I will ever be able to properly review this book. I'm definitely unable to muster up enough energy to try doing so now. I'm a strange mix of exhausted and exhilarated - maybe exhausted because of my exhilaration? 200 pages of Damage Proper will do that to you. All I know is that I'm exhausted and exhilarated and bleary eyed and heartbroken. And I love this book. No it is not a perfect book, not by a long shot, but I love it despite its imperfections. Everything good here is so damn good that it made any and all flaws trivial in comparison, even the abruptness of the ending, which would probably be my biggest complaint if I felt inclined to complain about the book. But I don't, so I won't. The characters though? They were the best freaking part. See, my chest got all tight just thinking about them again...

ETA: I should also add that the first 300 or so pages took me a month to read due to very limited reading time. The next 700 pages took me about 4 days. Once I was able to settle in to the story, I found it read insanely fast. I would blink my eyes and somehow another 100 pages had flown by. If anything is going to deter you from reading this, don't let it be its size. ( )
1 vote cait815 | Apr 1, 2013 |
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It is a curious enigma that so great a mind would question the most obvious realities and object even to things scientifically demonstrated...while believing absolutely in his own fantastic explanations of the same phenomena.

-- Flann O'Brien, The Third Policeman
For my parents, Lanny and Atara Levin.
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Levin creates a world driven equally by moral fervor and slapstick comedy. Expelled from multiple Jewish day-schools for acts of violence and backtalk, Gurion ends up in the Cage, a special lockdown program for the most hopeless cases of Aptakisic Junior High. Separated from his scholarly followers, Gurion becomes a leader with righteous aims building to a revolution of troubling intensity.… (more)

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