"On the last long walk of his life, septuagenarian war hero, deserter, and professor, Alessandro Giuliani, shares his past with an illiterate young companion - spinning a remarkable tale of heart-stopping escapes, of loves unrequited and won, of madmen, dwarfs and mafiosi. But overshadowing all is his most miraculous and terrible adventure, the Great War - a surreal parade of horrors that devastated and defined Alessandro's existence...yet enabled him to experience fully the magic and beauty of the absurd human comedy called Life."
Mark Helprin is a master stylist, and if you really love good writing, he's the author for you. This is the third book of his I have read, and all are excellent reading. Memoir in the Antproof Case is probably the most interesting, but Winter's Tale is the most lyrical.
My favorite book of all time. I re-read this tale of epic beauty evry few years. A young boy encounters a man who shares his life experience, much centered on his experience as a soldier in World War I. Allesandro is the teacher, spell-weaver, magician who tells this magical tale. Wonderful must read!
I love this book! I've read it three times, and I know I'll read it again.
I gather it's one of Helprin's more "realistic" books, but it is still filled with fantastic coincidences, strange happenings, and wildly bizzare people.
This is a wonderful, bitersweet account of one man's life, with focus on his "participation" in WWI, as an Italian soldier. Helprin captures the folly, inherent strangeness, and "out of left field" humor that runs through the tragedy of war.
Read it and weep; and laugh; and shake your head; and wish you knew our hero Alasandro...
Mark Helprin is the Greatest Living Author, and this is the second of his two pre-eminent Masterworks, the other being Winter's Tale. Helprin elevates our experience and understanding of life, in all its paradoxical coarseness and beauty, to a higher plane.
I had no idea what to expect when I found this book in my local public library 15 years ago. I did find a margin note writting in light pencil that said, "the best book I've ever read." I concur. This novel changed my life. It changed my outlook on life. It changed the way I think. I am grateful to Mark Helprin for his beautiful language, his mind and his discipline to put on paper such an epic life story of an incredible character. I have recommended this book to so many people, avid readers like myself, but few, alas, loved it as much as I. Maybe I was in a place in my life where I was open to the message, I don't know. I do know that it is a beautiful story.