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Speedboat (1976)

by Renata Adler

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7231922,309 (3.81)16
"It has been more than thirty-five years since Renata Adler's Speedboat, Winner of the Ernest Hemingway Award for Best First Novel, charged through the literary establishment, blasting genre walls and pointing the way for a newly liberated way of writing. This unclassifiable work is simultaneously novel, memoir, commonplace book, confession, and critique. It is the story of every man and woman cursed with too much consciousness and too little comprehension, and it is the story of Jen Fein, a journalist negotiating the fraught landscape of contemporary urban America. Her voice is searching, cuttingly perceptive, and darkly funny as she breaks narrative convention to send dispatches back from the world as she finds it"--… (more)
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» See also 16 mentions

English (16)  Dutch (3)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
First published in 1976, this book is, in many ways, very c1970. There are no computers and cell phones and so many of what we consider vital parts of everyday life.

It is also experimental. The narrator is one Jenn Fain, but there is no story. This is snippets of her memories, most of which go exactly nowhere. There is no plot, no storyline, no cast of characters. It reminds of of flash fiction, Pilgrimage by Dorothy Richardson (which has more plot but is also very everyday dull), and Rachel Cusk (which is much more pretentious but similarly goes nowhere in snippets).

I really did not get what the point of most of this was. I think in 1976 it would have made much more sense--I was just a kid and all I remember is the Bicentennial. For people who remember the 60s and 70s well, it might make more sense. The only parts I truly liked--and I found them funny--were the sections where she discusses her students. Poorly written college essays with horrible typos and students begging for better grades. Some things do not change. ( )
  Dreesie | Aug 9, 2020 |
This book was on the list of 50 short contemporary novels that LitHub posted recently, and I had it on the shelf, so why not? It was hailed as a breakthrough in novelistic technique when new, which was quite a while ago. (1976. Is that still contemporary?) The text is spiky and episodic - sometimes a piece is no more than a couple of lines - which is a pretty good picture of the early 70s culture. The narrator is a journalist and traveler who seems to hang out with a sort of trendy set - or maybe just a neurotic bunch of freelancers. Hard to tell just how trendy they are, especially as I wasn't the least bit trendy in those days. I did laugh out loud a few times, but most of the snark is more subtle.

There is enough topical reference to bring back Watergate and other events from my youth. Ultimately, in the spirit of a sense of the ending, our narrator seems to have gotten through the worst of it with a positive view. ( )
  ffortsa | May 19, 2020 |
This is one of my favorite things I’ve ever read. Reading the flow from thought to thought is like being a skipping stone cast by a dexterous hand. There is so much wisdom and insight here; it’s like uranium in its density. ( )
  jtth | May 4, 2020 |
What a very interesting book.
  thishannah | Jul 17, 2018 |
Brilliant shards of prose poetry strung together into a magically cohesive whirligig of a novel. Breaks most of the novelistic rules beautifully. Plotless and digressive in the best way: in service to letting the reader experience the interior monologue and mythology of one brilliant, neurotic, hilarious, human woman in 1970s NYC. For fans of Woody's Annie Hall and Manhattan, Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's, and West's Miss Lonelyhearts... but put through a blender and strained into a fine, smooth, strong spirit. ( )
1 vote Chamblyman | May 20, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Renata Adlerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Trebay, GuyAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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A hideous family pledged itself to margarine.
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"It has been more than thirty-five years since Renata Adler's Speedboat, Winner of the Ernest Hemingway Award for Best First Novel, charged through the literary establishment, blasting genre walls and pointing the way for a newly liberated way of writing. This unclassifiable work is simultaneously novel, memoir, commonplace book, confession, and critique. It is the story of every man and woman cursed with too much consciousness and too little comprehension, and it is the story of Jen Fein, a journalist negotiating the fraught landscape of contemporary urban America. Her voice is searching, cuttingly perceptive, and darkly funny as she breaks narrative convention to send dispatches back from the world as she finds it"--

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read the first chapter really got the cool thing but could make almost no sense of most of the things she might or might not refer to nor what the point of any of the story fragments she wrote is
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NYRB Classics

2 editions of this book were published by NYRB Classics.

Editions: 1590176138, 1590176332

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