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Mating by Norman Rush
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Mating (1991)

by Norman Rush

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1,0751411,975 (3.86)24
Set in the African republic of Botswana--the locale of his acclaimed short story collection, Whites--Norman Rush's novel simultaneously explores the highest of intellectual high grounds and the most tortuous ravines of the erotic. tackles the geopolitics of poverty and the mystery of what men and women really want. From the Trade Paperback edition.… (more)
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» See also 24 mentions

English (13)  French (1)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Everything that I think this book sets out to do, it does, I think, incredibly well. With all the issues it topicalizes, explores and maintains incessantly it could be very dull indeed; I'd have expected the level of excitement a body of footnotes to the extended history of 20th century's social thought and gender issues would elicit. Here, however, each sentence carries a carefully crafted, cutting-edge syntactic strategy, gripping and leading your thought and emotion. The text is never boring, it is never even unadventurous, always insightful and yet can never be fully grasped.

Much has been made of the fact that the female narrator's voice actually belongs to a middle-aged novelist, and this is highly subversive in itself, because if it bothers you, you are thinking in wrong categories. Incidentally and absolutely unsurprisingly, to my knowledge no one has been able to put a finger on anything that betrays the author's true gender (notwithstanding the discussion on "working the tits down to nubs").

In her honesty the narrator reaches the darkest depths of psyche, disarming and menacing in their naked charm. Stylistically very distinctive and certainly far from both, by force of her inquiry and insight -- in my own literary "idioverse" as she'd put it -- she balances between Conrad and Frisch. In a consistent body of prose it is shown with piercing persuasiveness that intellectual scrutiny and even intervention into the ways of the soul cannot destroy, does not have to diminish in any way the metaphysical, the mystical component of human life. Nor does it take anything away from the sublime quality of the text.

And that returns me to my initial growing surprise, part of which was the impression that Rush could actually create a genious, a giant of thought, who would then only be incorporated in his novel as a character. This might seem like a waste (and is, of course, sleight of hand), but a taste of Rush's oeuvre convinces me that the stakes are high enough.

And yes, it is a novel about love, as visceral and as transcendent as can be. No inquiry, no insight explains that away. ( )
  alik-fuchs | Apr 27, 2018 |
Deeply impressive and engrossing. Left me unsure of what to read for a while after finishing. ( )
  triphopera | Apr 14, 2018 |
This is an intelligent, empathetic book narrated in an authentic, unique female voice. The narrator talks about the relationship she has with an American anthropologist on a commune (run by women) in Botswana. I've re-read this book several times--that's how attractive the characters are and how rich the writing is. ( )
  Smartjanitor | Jun 11, 2017 |
Don't know the reason for my rating; it took me forever and a day to finish it, and I'm not quite sure why. ( )
  KatrinkaV | May 28, 2017 |
I liked parts of this book, but others just tended to drive me crazy. The central relationships are just agonized over - every move, every motive. I start to loose patience. Overall, I admire parts of it, but would not recommend it - mostly because it was such a chore to finish. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
It is in the disintegration of idealism that Rush shows his greatest hand. Denoon’s is an island of ideals, political, romantic and personal, and reality is in the tides that run ashore. Idealism has limitations, in literature and in life. Erosion is bound to happen sooner or later.
 
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Everything I write is for Elsa, but especially this book, since in it her heart, sensibility, and intellect are so signally—if perforce esoterically—celebrated and exploited. My debt to her, in art and in life, grows however much I put against it. I also dedicate Mating to my beloved son and daughter-in-law, Jason and Monica, and to my mother, and to the memory of my father, and to my lost child, Liza.
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In Africa, you want more, I think.
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