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Divisadero (2007)

by Michael Ondaatje

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,095755,412 (3.53)132
In California, then the Nevada casino's, 1970 a makeshift family of a father, daughter, adopted daughter and farm hand's lives are shattered by a traumatic event and they are sent off on separate courses.
  1. 00
    Three Junes by Julia Glass (eveninglightwriter)
    eveninglightwriter: While Ondaatje is definitly more poetic in his descriptions, Julia Glass is just as enjoyable. I really felt myself swept away by both books. There seems to be a strong sense of place and time that both writers portray beautifully.
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» See also 132 mentions

English (71)  French (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (73)
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
I listened to this quite some time ago and failed to make a journal entry here about it, sorry to say. I had to check out some other reviews to remind myself of it.

It's a wide-ranging novel. Some reviewers found the breadth of time as well as space wonderful. I didn't particularly. But let's look at it:

Claire and Anna grow up as twin sisters, although they are from different mothers. They have been close all their lives. Then Coop enters their lives in the 1970s, as a farmhand for their father. One thing leads to another and 16-year-old Anna and Coop become close. Anna's father is so incensed that he beats Coop almost to death (this happens quite close to the beginning so I am not giving away a whole lot). This action divides the family. While much of the action of the novel takes place on Divisadero in San Francisco, I think the title really refers to the breaking up of the family, including Coop. The three young people head in different directions from that day.

The two sisters and Coop lead very different separate lives. Beyond their lives we are treated to past lives, ancestors, leading up to the present. There are many stories here. They intertwine and wander off and connect again. It can be frustrating to keep track. I think because of the form of the novel that it might have been better to have read it in printed form rather than listen to the audio version. When I couldn't remember who was who I just kept on rather than try to flip back a few pages, because in audio it is harder to do that.

Others have called this Ondaatje's greatest novel. I didn't get that from it, although it was intriguing. It's possible, even probable, that I would have thought more highly of it if I had read it in printed form. ( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
Beautiful passages but questions about Ondaatje's storytelling. ( )
  kvschnitzer | Dec 8, 2019 |
Read it for the prose, he's a great writer who writes landscapes beautifully, and people quite well, if not as beautifully as the people. He takes you to some beautiful places. There's a temporal and story shift towards the end of the book that I did not like at all because it took me away from characters I was enjoying to one I had no connection with, but I would read the book anyway. ( )
  RekhainBC | Feb 15, 2019 |
His dreamily seductive writing will beguile and hold the reader. Occasionally, when Ondaatje comes down to earth, such as a mention of the Persian Gulf war, does he lose the spellbinding quality with a reminder that there is a real world out there. It's not that this is poetic in a flowery way, in fact there are some brutal scenes in this diverging (divisidero?) story yet they do not detract from its elegance. However, to take in the subtleties, Ondaatje's novels require the reader's attention, this one maybe more than any other. The strange thing about reading Ondaatje is that I can hear his velvet voice, in the same way I can hear my mother's voice when I read her letters. ( )
  VivienneR | Jan 3, 2019 |
Four stars for the first two-thirds of the book. After that it went off on a tangent with someone who was previously a minor character. Three stars for that section. ( )
  DougJ110 | Aug 4, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Ondaatjeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Calil, Augusto PachecoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walz, MelanieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
For John and Beverly
and in loving memory of Creon Corea
- remembered by us as 'Egilly"
First words
When I came to lie in your arms, you sometimes ask me in which historical moment do I wish to exist.
Quotations
Wij hebben kunst opdat wij niet door de waarheid zullen worden vernietigd (Nietzsche)
“There is the hidden presence of others in us, even those we have known briefly. We contain them for the rest of our lives, at every border that we cross.”
So we fall in love with ghosts.
With memory, with the reflection of an echo, a gate opens both ways. We can circle time. A paragraph or an episode from another era will haunt us in the night, as the words of a stranger can.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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In California, then the Nevada casino's, 1970 a makeshift family of a father, daughter, adopted daughter and farm hand's lives are shattered by a traumatic event and they are sent off on separate courses.

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