Review, Discussion, GIVEAWAY: Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

20140601-190211-68531752.jpg Want to win a copy of this book? Comment on this post on Facebook or twitter or on this blog (below). We will randomly choose a winner and mail you off a copy of this compelling read!

[The giveaway timeframe has ended. Thanks for the great comments!]

Calliope: This book definitely intrigued me. My eyes were gaping wide at every turn. I was astounded by everyone and everything. Would a doctor really DO that? Do doctors really THINK like that? Do wives actually turn such a blind eye to their husbands’ criminal behaviors? Is the human body truly so disgusting?
Pegasus: Whilst the rather extreme views that some characters possessed did interest me, I did feel as though some were completely unrealistic. I would give some examples, but wouldn’t want to spoil anything.

Calliope: I kinda couldn’t get over how graphic Marc was about the human body. Yes he’s a doctor, and I understand he would see things objectively, but he seemed so negative about it. The people I know in the healthcare field have an APPRECIATION for the human body, not contempt. So WHY? Why was he a doctor and why was he so grossed out by stuff?

Pegasus: I’m not easily grossed out by descriptions. Not at all. However, I felt physically sick with some of his musings regarding the human body. I kind of understand why the author chose to portray Marc like this, and to be fair it was very effective if it made me react in such a way.

Calliope: Not only was Marc a little odd, I couldn’t for the life of me understand the family dynamics. Any father I know would choke the life out of any grown man who laid a hand on his daughter. This guy was like Oh hey, it will be fine, let it be, let it be. And the mother went along with it! Maybe this happens when people are traumatized? I don’t know. It made me mad.
Pegasus: that whole scenario made me so mad! Unrealistic, and frustrating!

Calliope: The writing was great and the characters were interesting, but I thought the plot would be more thrilling. Instead it seemed to plod along, with complaints about bodies, complaints about other people, narration of the comings and goings of the children, and the acquiescence of the wives. The best I could come up with is that it’s not supposed to be exciting, rather maybe just social commentary? If so, everything makes a whole lot more sense! I was getting a little annoyed at how disrespectful everyone was. But then again, I’m used to reading Happily Ever After Chick Lit Romantic Comedies that make me laugh, then cry, then laugh, then cry happy tears. 🙂

Pegasus: I really have mixed feelings. On one hand, yes, I did think the writing was at least original, but on the other hand, I felt it did not flow properly. Maybe I just wasn’t In the right mood? Who knows. Calliope is right insofar as saying that this is social commentary. Society isn’t perfect I suppose, and there will always be factions of it with wich we don’t agree.

Calliope: By the end of the book I realized Summer House With Swimming Pool is more literary fiction. For one thing, the whole eye infection scene begged to be torn apart and analyzed. The enormity of that eye infection, the perspective of the doctor, the healing of the eye…. But I won’t analyze it here and ruin it for everyone else. For another thing, the tension between Ralph and Marc wasn’t anything I’ve seen in real life. It seemed like a metaphor. Ralph and Marc each represented something much more than themselves. And the treatment of women in Summer House With Swimming Pool was so egregious that, were I still an undergrad, I could write my senior thesis based on it. As a woman, I wanted to shake these guys out of their stupid stupors. *eyeroll* I’m getting fired up thinking about it.

Pegasus: This book was definitely more than what it portrays on the surface. A part of me felt like that it was trying to be too clever in some parts, and, in my opinion, that added to the feeling of it being disjointed. Also, because we’re not reading it in the original Dutch, translation may have been a contributing factor.

Calliope: In any case, this book spilled open some topics that are probably uncomfortable for most people to deal with: the human body, cancer, sexual immorality, the power of patriarchy… Heavy stuff told in a way that turned my stomach, made me question people’s motives, and made me wish that our world was nicer than it is.
Pegasus: I’m glad that I read this book, and it did definitely have it’s merits. Not too sure if I’ll be reading Koch’s next book, but we’ll see. However, opinions are like… Well, you know the phrase, so give this a read and hopefully you will enjoy it!

Remember, comment below for a chance to win a copy of Summer House With Swimming Pool!

-Pegasus and Calliope

buy SUMMER HOUSE WITH SWIMMING POOL

Giveaway! Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

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Next week Random Book Muses is planning a review and GIVEAWAY of Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch, author of The Dinner.

Keep an eye out for the blog post that will include details on how to enter!

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Review: The Dinner by Herman Koch

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The Dinner tells a tale of the dark side of normal. The book totally disturbed me, and I think it was supposed to.

You know how Hannibal Lector disturbed everyone, and no one would ever admit to admiring him, but you just know there are people out there admiring him? Well, Herman Koch made me stand in terrified awe of Paul and Claire Lohman, and their son Michel. And they admired each other for the same reasons I was freaked out.

Paul and his arrogant politician brother Serge, along with their wives, meet at dinner to discuss a crime their teenage sons committed together. One family wants to admit the guilt; the other wants to hide the crime. Instead of working out a solution among the four, Paul and Claire bully their way to protecting their son.

I couldn’t love this book because the nature of the crime and the coverup was too disturbing for me. But I appreciated the brilliance of the plot development, the psychological thrill ride, and the deliberate writing. So often Koch intimated something without spelling it out: instead of reading that the neighbor is a pedophile, we read that Michel and other boys often go to the single male neighbor’s house to sit on the sofa, drink Cokes, and listen to music together. Koch employed this technique often – and I appreciate the effort it takes to describe a situation so precisely that the hints and circumstance tell so very much more than a stark statement of fact.

If you like dark journeys into the disturbed corners of the human mind, join the Lohmans at The Dinner.

-Calliope

P.S. Remember to follow this blog and comment on the Giveaway post to be entered into our August giveaway of Pivot Point and The Sea of Tranquility.

Buy It Now The Dinner