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Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday

Asymmetry (2018)

by Lisa Halliday

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4182337,807 (3.54)29

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Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
I don't get it. I can't understand the connections among the three stories. ( )
  Doondeck | Mar 25, 2019 |
I found this book quite bizarre. I loved the second section the most. Honestly, not sure what to say. The writing in the second section so completely surpassed the first section (both stylistically and re the plot) that I was underwhelmed by this particular literary device. Plus, I am always annoyed by young women who use sex for advancement and who idolize older male writers, so that didn't help me along at all in section one. ( )
  KellyFordon | Mar 6, 2019 |
I always feel a little bit dumb when I just don't get why everyone loves a certain book. But this one I just didn't get - too subtle for me, I guess. ( )
  anitatally | Feb 28, 2019 |
This was a very interesting book. I had seen this on some best of book lists so I decided to read it. I try to not know too much before hand about the books I read. As I found out after I read the book, there is a back story that many people mention in the book reviews. The book has 3 separate stories so being a novel I looked for a connection between the stories. The title Asymmetry (lack of equality) gives you hint that the thread might be hidden. In terms of the stories themselves, the first has Alice a 27 year old editor for a Manhattan publishing firm having an affair with 71 year old Ezra Blazer a world famous author. Suffice it to say that I was impressed with the Halliday's writing. The asymmetry of their relationship along with the parts that connected kept my interest. The ending of the story had me wanting to know more about them. The 2nd story was completely different. Amar an Arab-American is being detained at Heathrow Airport in December 2008. This is told in the first person and the story and writing were terrific. You really get a clearer understanding of the impact of the war on the Iraqi people told from the perspective of someone in both cultures. Of course as the reader you are looking for connection to the first story. Not very clear but because both stories((120 and 100 pages) are long enough to connect to the characters , I enjoyed each immensely. The 3rd story was short and brought the reader back to the Ezra Blazer character. At that point you saw the connection but unlike other books of this genre(metafiction) it was not so obvious. This is a book that you will enjoy for the writing and the stories but if you also read the reviews and get Halliday's background, you will see it from a different perspective. As with all art,(music, painting, sculpture etc.) you sometimes need a deeper look at what the author is doing. That is why there are reviews and discussions about artistic endeavors. I usually don't need this with fiction but in this case it added to my enjoyment of the book. Don't want to give too much away. For me it totally worked. Would definitely read her next book. ( )
  nivramkoorb | Feb 24, 2019 |
This novel, divided into 3 parts, is interesting in its form. I just don't think that it quite met its potential. Now, perhaps I missed something, but I did not get much from any particular section of the book. Themes of chaos, connection, cultural divides are clear-cut. I just found myself reluctantly waiting for more to happen. Oh well. ( )
  hemlokgang | Feb 13, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
An exceptional debut examines imbalances in love and geopolitics.
Halliday’s structure shows exquisite control of leitmotif and patterning; each half gradually intensifies in emotion to reach a devastating climax. The weakest note is the epilogue, a transcript of a Desert Island Discs interview, in which Blazer is reported to have won the Nobel Prize, approves of the method of the novel we are close to finishing, and attempts to seduce Kirsty Young, the presenter. I see why it is there: to make it easier for the reader to connect the two narratives that have gone before, but it lacks their lightness of touch. Blazer’s record choices do, however, make for a great playlist, and listening to them will call further attention to the ambitious music of this exceptional debut.
added by sneuper | editFinancial Times, Luke Brown (Mar 23, 2018)
Lisa Halliday’s striking debut is certainly – as the title implies – a sharp examination of the unequal power dynamic between men and women, innocence and experience, fame and aspiration. Through its fractured structure and daring incompleteness, it also explores the unreliability of memory, the accidents of history and the exercise and understanding of creativity. Most of all, it wonders whether we can ever “penetrate the looking-glass” of our own personality to imagine another consciousness – a question as relevant to human relationships as it is to novel writing. (...)
Can any of us escape our own perspective? What are the risks, if we do not? What is art for, and how do we fit our lives around it? This is a debut asking a dizzying number of questions, many to thrilling effect. That it leaves the reader wondering is a mark of its success.
added by sneuper | editThe Guardian, Justine Jordan (Feb 28, 2018)
And that is the magic of this exquisite, impressive book: the way it plays with influence and assumption. As Ezra notes, “Our memories are no more reliable than our imaginations, after all. But I’m the first to admit it can be irresistible, contemplating what’s ‘real’ versus ‘imagined’ in a novel.”
(...) For us, the ride is in surrendering to falling down rabbit holes to unknown places. The moment “Asymmetry” reaches its perfect ending, it’s all the reader can do to return to the beginning in awe, to discover how Halliday upturned the story again and again.
The leap from the novel’s first section to its second is so great, and yet so intuitively logical, that it forces the reader to rethink the Alice section entirely: It is now clear that she is not a version of Lisa Halliday, but just one of the many voices Halliday can invent, if she chooses. In its subtle and sophisticated fable of literary ambition, and the forms it can take for a young woman writer, Asymmetry is a “masterpiece” in the original sense of the word—a piece of work that an apprentice produces to show that she has mastered her trade.
added by sneuper | editThe Atlantic, Adam Kirsch (Feb 18, 2018)
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"Told in three distinct and uniquely compelling sections, Asymmetry explores the imbalances that spark and sustain many of our most dramatic human relations: inequities in age, power, talent, wealth, fame, geography, and justice. The first section, "Folly," tells the story of Alice, a young American editor, and her relationship with the famous and much older writer Ezra Blazer. A tender and exquisite account of an unexpected romance that takes place in New York during the early years of the Iraq War, "Folly" also suggests an aspiring novelist's coming-of-age. By contrast, "Madness" is narrated by Amar, an Iraqi-American man who, on his way to visit his brother in Kurdistan, is detained by immigration officers and spends the last weekend of 2008 in a holding room in Heathrow. These two seemingly disparate stories gain resonance as their perspectives interact and overlap, with yet new implications for their relationship revealed in an unexpected coda. A stunning debut from a rising literary star, Asymmetry is an urgent, important, and truly original work that will captivate any reader while also posing arresting questions about the very nature of fiction itself. A debut novel about love, luck, and the inextricability of life and art, from 2017 Whiting Award winner Lisa Halliday" --… (more)

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