All That Man Is (★★★☆☆)


David Szalay   *   Graywolf Press   *   October 4, 2016   *   272 Pages

Advanced Reader Copy provided through Amazon Vine.

All That Man Is is a collection of nine (unrelated) stories about different men living in different places in Europe at different points of transition in their lives. The plots of the stories vary widely, but many involve travel. All of the stories share themes of loneliness, isolation, and despair.

This is not a happy book, and I struggled to get through it. After the third story, I finally found my rhythm, but those first 120+ pages were a slog. Luckily, as the book goes on, the characters become more interesting–more engaging and complicated, and less self-obsessed and brooding. The action picks up, too.

But this isn’t a book to fall in love with. All the men are depressed and selfish. All the women are ghosts who never fully form. The writing is restrained and sad. The whole thing has such a negative energy to it that I’m just glad to be done with it.

8 thoughts

  1. As of right now, you do have to review all the books given to you. Amazon seems to be in the process of tweaking the program a little bit, though, so that may change in the future. But you can still review whatever other stuff you want to. I review other books I buy or check out from the library.


    1. It really was. I couldn’t finish this book fast enough…

      Getting invited to the Vine program is totally random, as far as any of us can tell. Some people get invited after writing only a few reviews. Some people write thousands of reviews and never get invited. Even after many years of speculation, it’s all still largely a mystery.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Connected stories would have been good. Although, honestly, I wouldn’t have minded disconnected stories if at least some of them had been happier. This book was such a downer…ugh.

      Liked by 1 person

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