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Do you ever imagine what other lives you might have led if you or your parents had made different choices? 4 3 2 1 tells the story of Archie Ferguson in 4 different ways. Always Archie is a Jewish-American boy raised in the New York/New Jersey area. In each iteration his life begins the same, but they quickly diverge.
I found this novel enthralling. It was a little hard to follow the different Archies at times and keep their different storylines straight. It took me a long time to get through this behemoth. I got side-tracked by my youth lit project. I wouldn't recommend reading it in the fits and starts that I devoted to it, but it was worth it. I especially liked how many of the characters made appearances in the different lives. One of my favorites of 2017.
Brilliant, absolutely loved it. Fell into it right away and didn't want to stop reading. Someone commented about taking notes, which could be helpful. I'd advise putting a post-it at the beginning of each section since you'll likely want/need to refer back when beginning a different version of Archie.
Great start. Hard to put down early on. Loved finding out the premise.
Started dragging in the middle, but not sure if the characters could have been developed as well if the heft wasn’t there.
I had to put it down for a couple of weeks near page 600 for a break. Just too long.
Random: It was a little maddening to get into the protagonist‘s head as he thought about the purpose of some girls in some scenes. “boys will be boys?”
A wondrous book!So glad i never gave up. A bit of advice if you get overwhelmed with the length--take a break of a few days and then go back to it.
If you read the comments below, you will quickly figure out that people either love or hate this book. As for me, I loved it, as I spent got because of it many hours in the company of a good boy, Archie, whom I got really attached to. When the book ended, I was so sad to leave him behind -- indeed it took me a few days before I could start with another book and this *never* happens to me usually.
If you decide to go ahead and plunge into Archie's life/lives, here's a tip : keep notes. The four Archies start at the same point, but over the years they go through different experiences (rich/struggling parents, married/divorced, public/private school) etc and it can get confusing after a while. You'll thank me later :)
Last thing I wanted to mention : if you can, read it in the audio version. First of all, because 800+ is very long to read so do yourself a favour and let someone do the hard work for you. Second, because the narrator is the author himself, Paul Auster, who has a beautiful deep voice that I couldn't get tired of, even after the some 38 hours of recording it took to tell the whole book.
Do it! It's quite a trip.
A behemoth of a novel that is full of flowing prose and stories you'd hear at a relative's house.
The premise is interesting when you start (4 stories about how one person's life could have turned out, oh boy!) but by the end you are happy it is over and no longer find any joy in having to read 4 novels in 1.
That being said, for a work of literary fiction, it holds its own and offers poignant insights that are mixed into the banality of the everyday life of its young narrator in the mid-twentieth century. Not as soul-wrecking as something like Yanagihara's A Little Life.
Not sure why this 866 page doorstopper is on the Mann Booker shortlist. It has been called a “quadrophonic bildungsroman” of, in my opinion a self-absorbed white male writer. The problem is that it’s hard to care about any of the four Archie Fergusons. I understand the writer’s conceit is the that core of your character is set early in life and is relatively impervious to various circumstances life throws at you. I have some admiration for Auster’s ability to take a set of facts and weave four different stories. The background of the story, the politics, the music, the zeitgeist, is the tapestry of of any baby boomer’s life, and yet he can’t manage but a cursory nod to the condition of women and the powerful changes that took place for us in this period. This book reminds me of why, as a baby boomer feminist, I consciously read fiction written only by women for a period of more than ten years.
I gave up halfway through. Too much detail of baseball (who cares?) and of his time at summer camp etc. I soon realized I was skipping sections due to it being tedious. Not worth the effort.
I love Paul Auster's work - but this was hard to get through. In fact, I didn't. Enough of big mid-century books with struggling immigrants and baseball. Time to move on, guy writers.
Finished with a couple days left of checkout. Long. I was definitely satisfied. Learned a lot.
I enjoyed this book immensely-- Intriguing plot, well-written characters, and an excellent ending. It is more of a heavy read (think Dickens) and it's helpful to take notes on the various Achies to keep them straight, but overall it was near everything I want in a book. This was one of those book I constantly tell people about. As for recommending it, only to those who pursue hefty books that captivate and tickle the mind.
Hi -- I'm enjoying this book, but it's longer than it needs to be! Highly recommend that you take notes while you read it -- will help you keep the four Archies straight!
Wonderful. An ambitious novel about four different versions of lives lived by the same person. If I could give it six stars I would. Fascinating dialogue, intelligent descriptions, fully realized cast of characters, and very unpredictable. It is the opposite of boring for anyone interested in a challenging novel. It's a long, sublime journey.
If I could give a negative star rating, I would. This book was over 800 pages. I wouldn't have minded if it were halfway good. Bogged down by lengthy historical references and play-by-plays of baseball games from the 60s, I skimmed so much of this book I might have been ashamed if it were something else. I just wanted a nugget of something enjoyable, I never got one. Awful, awful, awful.