unreadable junk posing as postmodern literature This is the bread of affliction Eli Eli lama shavaktani Father, Father, why didn t Christ quote the Psalms in Hebrew was he that inept, or does excruciation always call for the vernacular 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 a taxonomy and a mantra creations abound and the flesh is made manifest 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 2015 model took refuge in this book and asked kindly if his wife would drive them home. The Enigmatic Billionaire Founder Of Tetration, The World S Most Powerful Tech Company, Hires A Failed Novelist, Josh Cohen, To Ghostwrite His Memoirs This Tech Mogul, Known As Principal, Brings Josh Behind The Digital Veil, Tracing The Rise Of Tetration, Which Started In The Earliest Days Of The Internet By Revolutionizing The Search Engine Before Venturing Into Smartphones, Computers, And The Surveillance Of American Citizens Principal Takes Josh On A Mind Bending World Tour From Palo Alto To Dubai And Beyond, Initiating Him Into The Secret Pretext Of The Autobiography Project And The Life Or Death Stakes That Surround Its PublicationInsider Tech Expos , Leaked Memoir In Progress, International Thriller, Family Drama, Sex Comedy, And Biblical Allegory, Book Of Numbers Renders The Full Range Of Modern Experience Both Online And Off Embodying The Internet In Its Language, It Finds The Humanity Underlying The Virtual The supersonically skilled word spinner, whose incredible novel Witz although overlong and insufferable showed the young man s smarts with language to have almost no limits, has managed to combine his torrential lexicon with something approaching a plot , and secure well deserved mainstream attention 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 The same manic rhythm and swinging swagger is apparent in the first 100 pages of this breathtaking novel, the only notable concession the increase in paragraph breaks 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 The range of formal play, punnilingual wizardry, and scope of erudition and research seals Cohen s reputation as the one and only heir apparent to DFW. Thoughts about this masterpiece that are not actually about this masterpiece 1 Goodreads NetGalley Publishers must stop sending galleys pre release copies of books to people in exchange for an honest review The honest reviews piling up here like dead leaves in a gutter that give the book 1 star The reviewers openly acknowledging having read like maybe 100 pages which means like maybe the first six paragraphs The reviewers attacking the author for trying to make them feel stupid As if an author who can make one feel stupid isn t actually accomplishing something real and important What good does it do Random House to send a book like this to an arbitrarily chosen cadre of readers Why not dig through Goodreads and find people who ve loved his previous work 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 In any world.2 The first review in the New York Times by Dwight Garner does justice to this magnificent book.3 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 A book in which there are no male characters who havethan a passing importance beyond the seventh page And a book that saysabout the masculine and man s role in society than just about any book published in the past 100 years Which proves, I suppose, that a book need not have male characters and that a book with no male characters can still say something meaningful powerful beautiful about men Plus vice versa Having only a few female characters in a book about two men who are about as hapless when it comes to connecting with the world as any two men in history Principal is sexless his mother and his mother s lover are vividly portrayed but not obsessed over with in a narrative choice I personally find challenging and masterful 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 Which is probably why the full excerpts from Rachel s blog that anchor the last 50 pages of the text are so powerful Josh is not giving his wife any credit because he s never given anyone any credit is a perfectly reasonable narrative decision 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 4 In a book full of beautiful passages, this one Even the simplest program must accomplish two things 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 All of our amnesia had been ordered by a single conciliable command statement, which though it could negate everything, could not negate itself Or this one Moe claimed life open and we claimed life closed but neither is feasible because there are cows in the road 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 see how a reader raised on not so difficult fiction might find that difficult No, I can t.5 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 Then yes I ll heartily so. Un roman de crivain d daigneux Mr Cohen is no doubt very clever, but sometimes his brains go to his headDo you find Qu b cois friendly to non Qu b cois or Parisians to Americans 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 Borrowing and modifying a 1953 quote of Margot Asquith referring to Lord Birkenhead. 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. Fucking frustrating, offensive, but a masterpiece. Joshua Cohen s Book of Numbers may well be the only hot ticket hot number I read this year Leon Forrest s Divine Days and Schmidt s Abend mit Goldrand just arrived and I doubt very much whether anything being published this year and flirting with The Millions and or the NYT s Breast selling list will come anywheres near touching either of these two BURIED works of GENIUS But I could be wrong.Cohen I got curious about because he had published a first novel, a FAT novel, with Dalkey Archive, and one doesn t really do that unless it s the right kind of novel It sits on my shelf still unread but Book of Numbers I had to read while it was still hot because there s a number of NetGalley readers here on gr who are pretentious enough to call emperor s new clothes on Cohen s new book really, though, I m disturbed by the condemnation of a novel because a narrator is racist and misogynistic But the second reason I m interested in Cohen is what Friend MJ says about that first Cohen novel, Witz Thirdly, Cohen once teamed up with Joseph McElroy and exchanged readings of each other s work McElroy endorsement is a kind of sacred seal or something probably ambiguously can t seem to find that video any But those one stars They demonstrate the obscenity of star ratings and eventhe obscenity of the belief that an average rating has any meaning connotative or denotative whatsoever Remember, the act of judgement runs two ways So I m still really looking forward to Witz in which names are dropped carelessly I gave up on Neal Stephenson after having gotten back into reading via and having thoroughly enjoyed his Baroque Tetrology but gave up after his two post Baroque thoroughly bored me I mean, he can write adequately, but like all sci fi genre writers, he sinterested in ideas than in writing, in tending to the words on the page etc So his Seveneves is not a hot ticket hot number I ll be reading I actually paid to hear him read from Reamde which is kind of obscene, paying to hear an author promote his already over read novel 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 But with the added thing that Cohen is a post Infinite Jest writer.Post Infinite Jest James Wood I ve read very little of his stuff, lots of my Friends have read him and read him frequently, but he s not in my realm of Moore McCaffery LeClair ETC , but he did do that one thing once called Zadie Smith s White Teeth hysterical realism Which is just brilliant Book of Numbers is hysterical realism If we keep in mind that the subject position of the hysteric is its question Che vuoi, What do you want from me But I disagree with Wood s lineage I d place the burgeoning of hysterical realism, not in DeLillo and Pycnhon its forebears to use a patriarchal metaphor but with Infinite Jest, which perhaps poses the question Che vuoias well as anything So Cohen s novel isn t so much pomo or post pomo or whatever, but post Infinite Jest yes, a watershed novel like Ulysses and Gravity s Rainbow and Don Quixote and it functions well in this lineage But it doesn t break into anything new like Women and Men etc does, totally reshifting the possibilities within the genre of novel.And I m always looking for that one novel that does something really novel again Which is asking too much like asking about another Shakespeare to shake up the English language or another Dante to tie all of the globally varying Englishes into one globe spanning masterwork Cohen s book also suffers in my reading it after Forrest and Self the former doing the glacial prose like only Gass does and the later really pushing several novelistic aspects into really rather incredibly sophisticated crevices 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 Why read an author who doesn t can t fuck around with words So and too, a fewnames to drop This is an internet novel Also, a little bit of post 9 11 And there s a major portion of it devoted to The Richest Man in the World kind of protag So as to the first, you get things like Pynchon s Bleeding Edge and Cohen holds his own here , Egger s thing I didn t read, and of course that Stephenson stuff about the internetz, but I think Cohen is much smarter, at least in the precision of geekdom, in letting the learnedness and totally tech stuff seep into the novel As to the second, I dunno, I m not really keen on the whole 9 11 thing piece of propaganda you ask me, but I ve never been a NY er, nor had my family obliterated by a drone strike or Israeli incursion What s daily life in much of the world is. never mind But I can mention DeLillo here because I ve read his 9 11 novel I don t think it can be named in a neutral manner Thirdly there, again with The World s Richest man protag, I ve gotta call to mind again DeLillo s Cosmopolis So but I do think Cohen comparisons belong in this realm I still don t really know what kind of a brain breaker his Witz is, and I m holding out for its being so, but this Book of Numbers is not a brain breaker but neither is Pynchon s internet novel And finally, we need to address the fact that the novel is framed as a first person narrative, which is deadly in anything longer than 30 pages literally deadly if you take a body count of the fallout from those enad of Holden s voice So unless you are a Gass, please do not write a novel of 600 pages in first person So I say that this novel is framed in the first person There are several means which Cohen employs to relieve us of the irritation of f p The entire middle third of the novel is taken up by the autobiographical bits of the protag s object ie, you ve seen this in other reviews novelist Joshua Cohen to whom Random House writes royalty checks writes a novel featuring a protag Josh Cohen who is ghost writing the autobiography of The Richest Man in the World Joshua Cohen And the final third consists largely of emails and blogs written by other characters In other words, its got the poly lingual dance, the dialogical dingle dangle which a straight f p narrative would scarcely allow In other words, when a novel changes gears like this one right here, reading to page 100 isn t a taste of the novel Summing up Not the novel which would meet my ridiculous criteria of that thing fresh, new, innovative, never done before which just don t happen that often and most of them that did that are BURIED, so since that s the thing I look for I spendtime with the BURIED than I do with the next hot number hot ticket BUT, it s another nice nice entry in that post IJ tradition which I just eat up because I like my novels hysterical. 1.5 starsI can t say thatBook of Numbers was a disappointment that 2.93 kept my expectations low but the handful of folks that lauded this thing like it was some kind of Ulysses Meets the Internet Age drew me to see what I was missing out on 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, probably as bright as the authors he s likened to Pynchon, Roth, DF Wallace, Joyce, et.al , and he certainly is conversant in most anything related to computing especially the Internet and the World of Judaica, and can drop 50 words like nobody s business, but what he can t figure out is how to engage a reading audience 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 itPynchon esqueto sucker in those who can t discern the difference In the world of zeros and ones, Cohen sThe 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 and B I m embarrassed to report that I read this to its bitter end Trust me, if you felt like abandoning this novel at the 25% mark, it only gets worse from there Don t bother wasting your time.Oh yeah, if it seems like I m angered by this bookyeah, I guess I am Not only for the wasted time of reading a 600 page cipher and reviewing same , but for the planting the Lynch Rimming image in my head Thanks but no thanks, Cohen..
Joshua Aaron Cohen born September 6, 1980 in New Jersey is an American novelist and writer of stories.
- 580 pages
- Book of Numbers
- Joshua Cohen
- 12 January 2019 Joshua Cohen