A Lovers Book of Numbers
Should there be a category for 'was going to read the book but the reviews were so bad that I've decided not to'? Donald The reviewers on GR clearly didn't read the book. See 2 questions about Book of Numbers….
Book of Numbers
Lists with This Book. Apr 24, Donald rated it it was amazing. My bias is to like ambitious books more than I probably should, out of admiration for the writer aiming high, even if unsuccessfully see: But I don't think that's what's going on here. Cohen aims high and pulls it off. He writes about the contemporary world, which is a lot harder than writing about the past or future, and he manages to do it in a way that isn't boring or hackneyed.
Moe is one of the best characters to appear in an American novel in a long time. The post-poker universal remote escapade is just fantastic, but I don't think I've seen it mentioned in a single review.
One of the tragedies is that the Joshua Cohen is one of the few people capable of reviewing the thing. I hope NYRB runs something thorough. Read it before the new Vollmann comes out at the end of July. View all 9 comments. Jan 22, Nathan "N. But I could be wrong. McElroy endorsement is a kind of sacred seal or something probably ambiguously. Remember, the act of judgement runs two-ways. So but anyways, some of the stuff I used to get from Stephenson I got from this Cohen here ; smart stuff, beach reading, no brain pain.
Book of Numbers is hysterical realism. But, when I set him next to a Stephenson my gripes are mine own he shines as one who not only enjoys the words on the page and the variety in which they can be set down, but also has the talent and the chutzpah to just go ahead and do it. So and too, a few more names to drop. This is an internet novel. So but I do think Cohen comparisons belong in this realm. So unless you are a Gass, please do not write a novel of pages in first person.
So I say that this novel is framed in the first person. And the final third consists largely of emails and blogs written by other characters.
View all 25 comments. Sep 24, Snotchocheez rated it did not like it. I was not prepared, though, for this barely readable, technobabbly mess Joshua Cohen foisted upon us. I don't want to waste a bunch of time writing about a book I almost completely hated, but a few things: Without question, Cohen is an intelligent guy, 1.
This entire book comes off as a faux-enlightened exercise in narcissism deluding editors into giving the guy free reign rein rain to deluge the pages with whatever nonsense comes to his mind, and then labelling it Pynchon-esque to sucker in those who can't discern the difference. In the world of zeros and ones, Cohen's The Book of Numbers seems stuck at zero. Oh, and this is for you Cohen cheerleaders who a think striking through page after page of text and then leaving it for us to cull through is groundbreaking and artistic and b think that no person who's read this the entire way through could possibly rate this negatively: A It's not at all groundbreaking, or artistic, or even clever.
Don't bother wasting your time. Oh yeah, if it seems like I'm angered by this book Not only for the wasted time of reading a page cipher and reviewing same , but for the planting the "Lynch-Rimming" image in my head. Thanks but no thanks, Cohen. View all 8 comments. For those Witz -lovers, or those who read his prolific previous two novels, a story collections, and chapbooks precede this epic monstrosity , worried about a dilution of ambition or language for the masses, these concerns can be parked in a bog.
Cohen has managed to shirk the thickets of opaque wtf as present in his previous books, and keep the reader on board with the hypermanic chicanery across the turbulant tripartite meta-antics, recounting fictional versions of Cohen as an older writer, and a tech-founder responsible for a Googleesque net phenom. Jun 22, Perry rated it did not like it Shelves: Cohen is no doubt very clever, "but sometimes his brains go to his head. Do you tend to deify Ivy Leaguers? You could well love this novel. Myself, I find literary haughtiness tedious and vexatious, and the writing in this novel to have acted as the literary equivalent of a Benzo-Nyquil cocktail.
May 29, Jonfaith added it. This is the bread of affliction. Eli Eli lama shavaktani? This isn't for most people. Even the intrepid biosphere of goodreads will find this alarming, if not unnecessary. I do appreciate Cohen's project, even if it is maddening. There is a dash of Trollope, lanced with Sade, pushing a ready mirror to our media-drunk rictus. The result isn't pretty. Technology has This is the bread of affliction. Technology has a taxonomy and a mantra: There are times when the ontology of a search engine is almost repugnant to read about.
I likely wouldn't have finished this if it weren't the holidays. I should thank my sister. Her stilted rant against a living wage wedged me away. A younger Jon would have advised her to fuck a goat. The weary model took refuge in this book and asked kindly if his wife would drive them home. Jun 19, Zach rated it it was amazing. Thoughts about this masterpiece that are not actually about this masterpiece: What good does it do Random House to send a book like this to an arbitrarily chosen cadre of "readers? Or why not just let those of us who seek out "difficult" fiction find it and then review it?
Because this book is not a "1-star" book. The second review in the New York Times by "blogger" turned "novelist" Mark Sarvas does injustice to books and book reviews. Sarvas complains that the female characters are not given enough "justice" as characters. I refer Sarvas to Marilynne Robinson's masterpiece, "Housekeeping.
And a book that says more about the masculine and man's role in society than just about any book published in the past years. The Other Joshua Cohen is a lout who thinks women are there for sex and to ruin his life which makes him a character who would probably not allow the women in his life to have "justice. Should every book about human beings be equally weighted between genders?
Is that Sarvas' goal? So I can take a gauge like the thing they measure crab with on a crab boat and determine the distribution of characters per novel? Is that the end goal? And then he says "there's always a Jewish mother," which makes me think he didn't actually read the whole book, just skipped ahead to that part where Josh's mother comes back to the narrative which happens to be a few pages before the end. As Josh's mother is oft-mentioned in his interior monologue much in the way Howard Stern's mother is always there as he speaks but is never fully-formed.
In a book full of beautiful passages, this one: It has to make something happen, and then it has to store the making of that something happen to memory. The vent, and then its memorial. Its marks, signs, indicia. But this function ensured that the reporting was not stored. That it was forgotten, by us, as like it had never transpired. You can go and then smack.
There is a cow. In the river of the road. You have to wait. You wait to cross. Basically at that point it ends. I can't "recommend" this book. Mostly because I know there are people who don't have the patience for it. But if you love literature. View all 7 comments. May 05, Yukari Watanabe rated it did not like it. I was so excited to receive NetGalley copy because it received a Starred review from Publishers' Weekly. Unfortunately, I soon realized this novel is not for me. I was constantly reminded by the author that I am not worthy of his novel.
I'm sorry that I'm not one of Manhattan intellectuals. I'm sorry I couldn't laugh when it's supposed to be funny. I am a poor country bumpkin who stumbled into a very fashionable Manhattan party wearing a hand-me-down flower pattern dress. But, I have a feeling it's quite a good literately fiction. It may even be nominated for Man Booker Prize. Because I often have similar hostility towards some of the nominated books.
View all 4 comments. Fucking frustrating, offensive, but a masterpiece. View all 3 comments. Apr 09, Liviu marked it as tried-but-not-for-me. Jul 26, Sue rated it really liked it. I am feeling totally whipped by this book, stretched and poked.
Review: Numbers by Rachel Ward | Books | The Guardian
Reviewers on Goodreads have said they quit after 50 pages or pages, and I get that. They probably went out and did great things with the hours they saved. This strange book is, however, entirely readable even if it did not readily pull me in. I sighed early on and figured I had to know where Cohen was leading. For starters, the voice changes from time to time, and it takes a I am feeling totally whipped by this book, stretched and poked. For starters, the voice changes from time to time, and it takes a bit of a read before you cotton on to each new one.
So much for Lit … I digress because this book makes me digress.
Not unlike the Internet, come to think of it, which is the topic of this book. The basic plot is simple. A failed author named Joshua Cohen like the real author has been engaged as a biographer for an Internet mogul also named Joshua Cohen. Part one introduces author Cohen, who - we are constantly reminded -has messed up most of his life, including his marriage and career. The middle, longest part is an odyssey with the mogul Cohen, whom he calls "Principal.
Principal is not, however, any one of these people exactly. The description of the early days of search engines is for me a particularly successful segment of part two. The characters here are the most interesting of the book. Principal tells his story to Cohen, who struggles to begin writing. The interview sessions take place all around the globe, because Principal is avoiding his own exec Dienerowitz as well as a Julian Assange double named Balk. Part three returns to author Cohen, who achieves some peace with the shadows which chase him. Using these Internet prose forms seemed entirely appropriate and felt satisfying to me as a wind-down from the verbal mayhem of Part two.
What Cohen the real author, not the character loves to do is play with language. There are esoteric words and made-up words. I loved some of the neologisms which were created for a nuanced meaning: Whether or not you enjoy this book will rely in part on your interest in word play. There are sections which are really too long. Was the long slog about the publishing trade really necessary?
Some of his many digressions could have used a more stringent editing. God is testing the endurance of the Israelites. Nov 09, Thijs Joores rated it did not like it Shelves: Und selbst diese Trennlinie ist nicht eindeutig. Womit ich sagen will: Am Ende schreibe ich immer alle um und werde so selbst umgeschrieben. Wenn du im Leben von Kontrollfreaks, Egomanen, Berufsnarzisten und Solipsisten herumspukst, dem deiner Liebhaberinnen, deiner Frau, deiner Mutter, dann verwandelst du dich auch in sie, unweigerlich.
Das gemeine Publikum scheint die Meinung der Fachpresse jedenfalls gar nicht zu teilen. Tetration ist der alles beherrschende IT-Konzern und sieht wie eine milliardenschwere Kombination aus Google, Apple und Facebook aus [albtraum! Die Figuren werden bei den meisten Lesern keine Sympathien hervorrufen.
Kann sich noch jemand an Altavista erinnern? Oder Lycos, Excite, Inktomi, Metacrawler? Suchet, so werdet ihr finden. Vielleicht war er etwas zu ambitioniert. Coupland und Eggers schauen trotzdem blass aus. Was nervende Figuren angeht, das konnte William Gaddis noch eine Spur besser. Jetzt muss ich dringend betonen, dass es viele richtig gute Passagen gibt.
Und war das nicht immer so? Eine Milliarde Bakterien pro Knopf, im Durchschnitt. Man weiss nie, wie man dran ist: Schlecht recherchiert oder Absicht? Falls Absicht, bringt das was, wenn es nur im Fachgebiet bewanderte User Leser bemerken? Nur - das gedruckte Buch ist statisch. Oder besser ein Snapshot der Volumes eines Backup Servers.
Die stillstehende Komponente des rasenden Stillstands. Die zahlreichen durchgestrichenen Passagen illustrieren den altmodischen Schaffensprozess des Reflektierens, Verwerfens, Neuschreibens, das ist doch sehr gelungen. Von den drei sehr unterschiedlichen Teilen war der erste ok, der zweite langweilig [oder war ich nur schlecht drauf, wer weiss das schon? Irgendjemand, obwohl meine Angst mir nie ein klares Bild dieses jemands gezeigt hat, ist in meinen Computer gelangt, und ich kann nicht mehr sagen, was von mir und was von ihm ist.
Also wenn hier was Schlechtes steht, ist es nicht von mir. View all 5 comments. Jun 15, Chuck marked it as sidetracked-in Shelves: The first thing to realize is that this is not an average novel. If you're looking for a breezy read, this is not it. While I've seen comparisons to David Foster Wallace and Thomas Pynchon, I'm not finding it anywhere near that difficult, but I can see why someone might make that comparison: So you need to The first thing to realize is that this is not an average novel.
So you need to really be on top of it when you read this. I'm sure many readers will just get frustrated, abandon the book, and give a low rating to it. That's what I suspect we're seeing with most of these early reviews. No, odds are you're not going to just be able rip through this book like an average best-seller.
Take it slow, read and re-read to you get the flow. That's why I'm doing. I read the first 80 or so pages 3 times, and now I'm really getting into it. May 07, lisa rated it liked it Shelves: Ok, I hate to do this, but I'm calling it. I simply can't finish this book. I received a copy on Netgalley almost a month ago, and I dove right it. The writing is different from most contemporary fiction today, with wordy sentences, full of humor and depth. The plot was a great premise for this day and age, and if I weren't someone who has so much to read, if I were the type of person who only read two books a year, this one would be a wonderful choice.
The sentences are some to savor and the id Ok, I hate to do this, but I'm calling it. The sentences are some to savor and the ideas are some to discuss. However, this book is insanely long, and the characters don't interest me enough to care about what happens to them. I'm somewhat interested to see what happens at the end, but after weeks of forcing myself to read a few pages a night, I just can't do it anymore.
I hope this book finds its audience, which I can see as being young, smart hipsters who like the idea of reading, but I don't think I am it. Mar 03, Ben Bush added it Shelves: I wrote a listicle about Joshua Cohen for Flavorwire. Book of Numbers explained, if not through animated GIFs, at least adjacent to them. Apr 15, Suzanne rated it did not like it Shelves: I think one or more of the Joshua Cohens really loves to write but holds his readers in very low regard. This never-ending exercise holds some gems within it, but they are so cleverly disguised and concealed within a monstrous text, that merely interested and patient readers will miss them.
Only the most fanatic readers, or possibly best friends, relatives and fictional readers of the Joshua Cohens will love this book. The rest of us will feel sad and disappointed that so much talent is wasted. Jul 07, L. Rosa rated it did not like it. Philip Roth's influence looms upon this novel like a mountain's shadow upon a blade of grass. It's not so much the question of Jewishness as the author, successful novelist called Joshua Cohen, writing about a "failed novelist" called Joshua Cohen.
The soul of Roth's fiction is its honesty: There's a vulnerability in Roth that I never saw in Cohen; only an insufferable self-conscious hipsterism. The persona Cohen creates for the novel - which I'm not assuming is the real Cohen - is an unlikeable prick; nothing wrong with that. I didn't understand why he put himself in a novel - perhaps it's to point out that nowadays our personal lives are public.
Perhaps he wrote himself as a prick to satirize the way so many people behave online nowadays - smug, ignorant while feigning wisdom, vicious and insensitive. Anyway, the book Cohen tires me in a way, for instance, a wonderful prick like Humbert Humbert never does. A protagonist can have all the vices in the world for me, except the vice of bad eloquence.
For me, all the problems of this novel are verbal. The plot at no point enthralled me, and although I tolerate a static novel, you better make up for it with gorgeous prose. But I keep forgetting Maximalism also means awful prose writers like Pynchon and McElroy, whatever their other merits may be. The second section in the book, where Joshua Cohen interviews Joshua Cohen, CEO of the Tetration, is pages of newspaper-level prose, the experience of reading non-fiction without the benefits of actually reading non-fiction i.
And the problem is that I was reading this faux-non-fiction book in bed next to a stack of actual non-fiction books, scilicet: The decision to start speed-reading didn't take a lot of deliberation. And even though Cohen writes as badly as Pynchon, he lacks his picaresque imagination, his humour, and, more importantly, his heart.
The sex jokes fell flat, the pseudo-thriller bits involving a Julian Assange-like figure went nowhere; his attempt to say something meaningful, profound about the modern age in relation to the internet proved that there's nothing meaningful and profound to say about the modern age in relation to the internet. And I was just turning pages mechanically and reliving the good moments I had while immersing myself in the prose of master stylists like Paul West and Nabokov. For these acts, God destroys approximately 15, of them through various means. They arrive at the borders of Canaan and send spies into the land.
Upon hearing the spies' fearful report concerning the conditions in Canaan, the Israelites refuse to take possession of it. God condemns them to death in the wilderness until a new generation can grow up and carry out the task. The book ends with the new generation of Israelites in the Plain of Moab ready for the crossing of the Jordan River. Numbers is the culmination of the story of Israel's exodus from oppression in Egypt and their journey to take possession of the land God promised their fathers. As such it draws to a conclusion the themes introduced in Genesis and played out in Exodus and Leviticus: God has promised the Israelites that they shall become a great i.
Numbers also demonstrates the importance of holiness, faithfulness and trust: Most commentators divide Numbers into three sections based on locale Mount Sinai , Kadesh-Barnea and the plains of Moab , linked by two travel sections;  an alternative is to see it as structured around the two generations of those condemned to die in the wilderness and the new generation who will enter Canaan, making a theological distinction between the disobedience of the first generation and the obedience of the second. God orders Moses, in the wilderness of Sinai, to number those able to bear arms—of all the men "from twenty years old and upward," and to appoint princes over each tribe.
A total of , Israelites are found to be fit for military service. The tribe of Levi is exempted from military service and therefore not included in the census. Moses consecrates the Levites for the service of the Tabernacle in the place of the first-born sons, who hitherto had performed that service. The Levites are divided into three families, the Gershonites, the Kohathites, and the Merarites, each under a chief. Preparations are then made for resuming the march to the Promised Land. Various ordinances and laws are decreed. The Israelites set out from Sinai.
The people murmur against God and are punished by fire; Moses complains of their stubbornness and is ordered to choose seventy elders to assist him in the government of the people. Miriam and Aaron insult Moses at Hazeroth, which angers God; Miriam is punished with leprosy and is shut out of camp for seven days, at the end of which the Israelites proceed to the desert of Paran on the border of Canaan. Twelve spies are sent out into Canaan and come back to report to Moses.
Joshua and Caleb , two of the spies, report that the land is abundant and is "flowing with milk and honey", but the other spies say that it is inhabited by giants, and the Israelites refuse to enter the land. Yahweh decrees that the Israelites will be punished for their loss of faith by having to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Moses is ordered by God to make plates to cover the altar.
The children of Israel murmur against Moses and Aaron on account of the destruction of Korah 's men and are stricken with the plague, with 14, perishing. Aaron and his family are declared by God to be responsible for any iniquity committed in connection with the sanctuary. The Levites are again appointed to help in the keeping of the Tabernacle. The Levites are ordered to surrender to the priests a part of the tithes taken to them.
The Israelites blame Moses for the lack of water. Moses is ordered by God to speak to a rock but initially disobeys, and is punished by the announcement that he shall not enter Canaan. The king of Edom refuses permission to pass through his land and they go around it. Aaron dies on Mount Hor. The Israelites are bitten by Fiery flying serpents for speaking against God and Moses. A brazen serpent is made to ward off these serpents. The Israelites arrive on the plains of Moab. A new census gives the total number of males from twenty years and upward as ,, and the number of the Levites from the age of one month and upward as 23, The land shall be divided by lot.