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Paperback The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor Book

ISBN: 061813171X

ISBN13: 9780618131716

The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

While retracing the legendary voyages of Sindbad the Sailor, journalist Simon William Behler finds himself in Sindbad's household in medieval Baghdad and competes with Sindbad in a storytelling marathon in the hopes of finding way back to the modern world. Reprint.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

This tale about tales is a whopper!

John Barth is one of America's greatest writers, a story teller on par with Twain and Steinbeck, Boyle and Bellow. As far as I can tell, however, none of them ever wrote a story about story telling, which is what Barth has done in this fantastical epic. Simon Behler (if that is, in fact, the name of the identity- and perspective-challenged narrator), for whom water has always played some central role in his life, appears to have swum through a rip in the time/space and reality/fantasy continuum, where he ultimately arrives at the doorstep of the fabled Sinbad The Sailor, and his captivating daughter Yasmin. Invited in, he and Sinbad swap tales of their respective, fantastic voyages in front of myriad household members and prospective investors for Sinbad's proposed seventh voyage, all of whom doubt the origins and suspect the motives of our narrator. Except, of course, for the delicious Yasmin, who, it turns out, has a mysterious and inexorable connection to Simon.While this is a tale filled with mystery and adventure, love and sex, betrayal and death, and an endless supply of conflict, the underlying theme is the role that stories play in our lives, both as literal archives and moral instruction. Barth's trademark wordplay makes every passage worth a second and third reading, and his characters are impressively believable given their unbelievable context. Like his other masterpiece, "The Sot-Weed Factor," this is a sprawling and ribald epic, showcasing the enormous intellect and imagination of an American master in his prime.

The Arabian night that never was

I'm still not quite sure to think of this book, having now finished it. I enjoyed it but I don't know how I'm going to think of it six months from now, if at all. It's an interestingly told tale, using the voyages of Sinbad to frame the story of a middle aged man's life in the present day . . . and I liked the ruminations on growing up and getting older (and older) and the Arabian setting, accurate or not, was certainly entertaining at least. For all its length the book is actually very tightly written, the voyages and interludes remaining pretty close to the point and with very few actual digressions, the plot falls apart and comes together neatly (as neat as it gets) and unfolds at nearly the right pace. Still, this does feel a bit like the work of a craftsman and not the work of someone really pushing . . . the prose although well written doesn't leap out at me except at certain moments and the story very rarely engaged me emotionally, the main character Simon was fairly three dimensional and Sinbad is displayed warts and all but everyone else was basically there to move the plot forward . . . I guess I'm comparing this to the Tidewater Tales, which why that book was frustrating at times because it was all over the place and rambled every other page, there was a sense of exuberance to it that I found myself responding to. Here I watch all of Barth's literary tricks and don't find myself that moved at all. The early scenes are probably the best, showing Simon's young life and a time long gone and some of the later Arabian voyage scenes are fun and the whole story is well constructed as a piece, his mediations on growing old alternate between humor and resignation, it's populated with loads of interesting set pieces and never fails to be anything less than interesting . . . and yet there's something missing here that I can't put my finger on, a quality that I know is in the other books of his that I've read. What it is, I really couldn't tell you. Though I do think it's a telling sign that the most riveting sections are the sparsest (the beginning and the end, in particular). I do recommend this though even if new Barth fans should start elsewhere . . . veterans of the author will find much of what they like about him distilled into a dense but decently compact novel, the contents of which they may find both moving them and leaving them cold, sometimes on the same page. But it's a worthy read, at any rate.

Truly enjoyed this, but can see the point made.... a previous reviewer who was quite put off by what he/she saw as macho male fantasy elements. I think that point is not dreadfully farfetched and I made something of a mental note along those lines upon reading the book. However, I enjoyed this romp quite a bit. The several angles of history/myth that were explored, the stories within stories within stories (ala the Arabian Nights themselves), the parallel universes, and the different versions of what "really" happened truly mad this an engaging book.

The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor

Very simply put - My favorite author's best story ever! Without even putting this book down I turned from the last page to the first to reread it. I have read it aloud to more than one lover. Truly a story to be shared. As a devotee and companion of Barth for thirty years I often been drawn into his layered approach to story telling, but this story of stories within stories is definitely the most readable; jumping seamlessly from one era and character set to another.
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