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Beautiful World, Where Are You

por Sally Rooney

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
2,256766,998 (3.45)58
Fiction. Literature. HTML:

AN INSTANT #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Beautiful World, Where Are You
is a new novel by Sally Rooney, the bestselling author of Normal People and Conversations with Friends.

Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he'd like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend, Eileen, is getting over a break-up, and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood.
Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon are still young??but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?… (mais)

  1. 00
    Transit por Rachel Cusk (JuliaMaria)
  2. 00
    Based on a True Story por Delphine de Vigan (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Es geht jeweils um eine mit ihrem letzten Buch sehr erfolgreichen Schriftstellerin und wie sie danach wieder ins Leben zurückkommen.
  3. 00
    Companion Piece por Ali Smith (aprille)
  4. 00
    Ducks, Newburyport por Lucy Ellmann (aprille)
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Inglês (68)  Holandês (3)  Catalão (2)  Espanhol (2)  Todas as línguas (75)
Mostrando 1-5 de 75 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
This was my first book from this popular author. I found it absorbing enough to finish, to find out what happened to the various relationships among the foursome, but I was not as affected by the prose as I had hoped I'd be. Competently written but not poetic. Interesting ideas crop up in the style alternating email with action such that a long philosophical chapter is relieved by a scene-filled action chapter. And her political ideas are solid (“My theory is that human beings lost the instinct for beauty in 1976, when plastics became the most widespread material in existence”) - read the quotes in this entry to get a good idea of the book. ( )
  featherbooks | May 7, 2024 |
“Wherever I go, you are with me, and so is he, and that as long as you both live the world will be beautiful to me” (173).

Reading this book is like living through the global pandemic, which is where the novel ends—months into an isolated, socially-distanced COVID world. Both the book and pandemic life make you question the world on a philosophical level: lots of introspections and musings about life’s biggest questions, mainly about relationships and happiness. And while the ruminating chapters are often melancholic and maudlin, like the characters themselves, in the end, there is a general acceptance and peace (or is it denial?) that seems to end in hopeful light and happiness.

Eileen and Simon and Alice and Felix: each is at a crossroads as they move from one season of life into another—from the carefree, responsibility-free youth of their 20s into the realistic adult-world of their 30s. They’re not so much searching for their purpose in life—because of their (mostly) nihilistic perceptions, they’re okay not having a purpose—but they are searching for love. Through their old and new relationships with each other, as well as several existential crises and infuriating behaviors and life choices, they do, in the end, find love and happiness, which made the book more a 4.5 than a 3.5. I needed them to end up happy because so much was sad. Instead of throwing the book across the room with a, “Damn you, Sally Rooney, for luring me in with promises of young people searching for love,” I was able to close the book smiling—pretending their happiness would be lasting. ( )
  lizallenknapp | Apr 20, 2024 |
This was just a disappointment.
Boring, self-absorbed characters in complete detachment from the real world in a story with no plot and no character development. I liked "Normal People", even though I didn't love it. There was enough nuance in it to keep it interesting, even though I disliked Rooney's "tell, don't show" approach, but this latest book has nothing good going for it.

In one of the chapters, the writer, Alice, talks about how the majority of other authors are so disconnected from real life that it doesn't make sense to read any of that stuff. I feel the same about Rooney's novels. ( )
  ZeljanaMaricFerli | Mar 4, 2024 |
No one needs another Sally Rooney review, but this is for me to try to sort out my thoughts about this book, really. Which are what? That it's trying to make an argument about what the novel form is for, in the world's current sociopolitical state. Is that the main point of it? To develop that, it sketches out a view of what our current state is and what the essence of humanity is, and how these interact. It furthermore fumbles around in the dark trying to figure out what ultimate reality lies behind it all, behind all this. Romantically, it seems to find its answer, or the source of the answer, in Love.

Nothing too ambitious then. The theorizing mostly takes place in the emails between Alice and Eileen, the praxis in the narrative chapters. The state of the world, of course, is bad. Exploitation of people and resources by the elite have advanced and accelerated to the point where civilizational collapse can be seen approaching. Alice's work, paid extravagantly to write novels, is contrasted with Felix's work, paid poorly to have his body beaten up in an Amazon-like warehouse. The forces that now dominate and have made work life what it currently is leave people unhappy:

It is hard in these circumstances not to feel that modern living compares poorly with the old ways of life, which have come to represent something more substantial, more connected to the essence of the human condition. This nostalgic impulse is of course extremely powerful, and has recently been harnessed to great effect by reactionary and fascist political movements, but I'm not convinced that this means the impulse itself is intrinsically fascistic. I think it makes sense that people are looking back wistfully to a time before the natural world started dying, before our shared cultural forms degraded into mass marketing and before our cities and towns became anonymous employment hubs.


In this state, what point is the novel? Rooney sees the disaster like anyone else, and she also enjoys and is extraordinarily good at writing novels, which have made her very well off. The argument against her work, and against the novel generally now, when we appear to stand perilously near the rotting edge of human civilization, is:

The problem with the contemporary Euro-American novel is that it relies for its structural integrity on suppressing the lived realities of most human beings on earth... Who can care, in short, what happens to the novel's protagonists, when it's happening in the context of the increasingly fast, increasingly brutal exploitation of a majority of the human species?


Rooney offers two answers to herself that I can see (is this novel Rooney talking with herself? Sure). Firstly, it's that this is what we are. Whatever the state of the world, peoples' essential beings remain what they always have been and always will be. And this essentialness, more permanent and long-lasting than any civilization, is a fitting subject for novels.

[Eileen]: Alice, do you think the problem of the contemporary novel is simply the problem of contemporary life? I agree it seems vulgar, decadent, even epistemically violent, to invest energy in the trivialities of sex and friendship when human civilisation is facing collapse. But at the same time, that is what I do every day.

Maybe we're just born to love and worry about the people we know, and to go on loving and worrying even when there are more important things we should be doing. And if that means the human species is going to die out, isn't it in a way a nice reason to die out, the nicest reason you can imagine? Because when we should have been reorganising the distribution of the world's resources and transitioning collectively to a sustainable economic model, we were worrying about sex and friendship instead. Because we loved each other too much and found each other too interesting. And I love that about humanity, and in fact it's the very reason I root for us to survive - because we are so stupid about each other.

[Alice]: So of course in the midst of everything, the state of the world being what it is, humanity on the cusp of extinction, here I am writing another email about sex and friendship. What else is there to live for? Love always, Alice.

[Eileen]: What if the meaning of life on earth is not eternal progress toward some unspecified goal - the engineering and production of more and more powerful technologies, the development of more and more complex and abstruse cultural forms? What if these things just rise and recede naturally, like tides, while the meaning of life remains the same always - just to live and be with other people?


So there you are. That's why Rooney writes these novels about sex and friendship, and despite having the character Alice say that she thinks she won't write another novel, I have no doubt that Rooney will continue writing these novels. We've gotten the college age stories, and now the turning thirty story, and so will come the midlife stories.

Secondly, and more sparingly and perhaps hesitatingly suggested, as if Rooney is trying to figure out how to talk about this, is that these fictional stories about sex and relationships and friendships make us more loving people. By doing this, they bring us closer to the reality behind everything:

[I]n his life and death, Jesus emphasised the necessity of loving others without regard to our own self-interest. In a way, when we love fictional characters, knowing that they can never love us in return, is that not a method of practising in miniature the kind of personally disinterested love to which Jesus calls us?
...
When one person kills or harms another person, then there is 'something' - isn't there? Not simply atoms flying around in various configurations through empty space. I don't know how to explain myself, really.


So that's what I get out of Beautiful World, Where Are You. Despite the bad state of the world, these novels have a use and a point, and the Marxist Rooney will keep writing them. And I'll surely keep reading them, because she can write, she can particularly write dialogue, and I'm a bit fascinated by her. Now for a last beautiful quote:

The women unspeaking, their eyes closed tight, their arms wrapped around one another, for a second, two seconds, three... were they in this moment unaware, or something more than unaware - were they somehow invulnerable to, untouched by, vulgarity and ugliness, glancing for a moment into something deeper, something concealed beneath the surface of life, not unreality but a hidden reality: the presence at all times, in all places, of a beautiful world?


(I'd give this a 4.5, but rounding up to 5) ( )
  lelandleslie | Feb 24, 2024 |
Beautiful World, Where Are You follows two best friends and former university roommates in their last year in their twenties: Eileen Lydon, an under-employed, poorly-paid editor at a literary journal, and Alice Kelleher, a financially successful, critically-acclaimed novelist who is recovering from a mental breakdown and who chafes at her fame. Ironically, writing gives Alice’s life meaning but is also the impetus for her breakdown: she sees her novel writing as frivolous, wondering what the point is of “making up stories about people who don’t exist” while there are important problems to solve in the world. Seeking solitude, Alice moves to an old rectory in a remote town by the sea three hours outside of Dublin and, through Tinder, meets Felix Brady, a warehouse worker, to whom she is drawn partly because he seems unimpressed with her celebrity and has no intention of reading her books, and who she invites to accompany her book launch in Italy. In Dublin, Eileen has gone through a breakup and rekindles a flirtation with her childhood friend, Simon Costigan, an Oxford-educated political advisor who is five years older than her. Eventually, the four meet when Eileen and Simon travel to Alice’s.

Although the story is notably preoccupied with issues of class, sex, power, and gender, the underlying theme seems to be about finding meaning in a chaotic, every-shifting, and ugly world. The narrative transitions between action and long, wordy correspondence between Eileen and Alice that analyzes events, observes social trends, waxes philosophical, and rehashes the omnipresent news cycle. While those long missives contain interesting observations, they also interrupt the flow of the story, which I found a bit irritating at first, but once I got used to the pace and was invested in the story, it was less noticeable. The end of the novel takes place during the Covid pandemic, and both young women have found some measure of happiness. There was something – dare I say it? – Joyce-esque about the long passages and ramblings, always intelligent, but whip-sawing from topic to topic. I am a sucker for intelligent novels, and Ms. Rooney is good at writing them. ( )
  bschweiger | Feb 4, 2024 |
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Fiction. Literature. HTML:

AN INSTANT #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Beautiful World, Where Are You
is a new novel by Sally Rooney, the bestselling author of Normal People and Conversations with Friends.

Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he'd like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend, Eileen, is getting over a break-up, and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood.
Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon are still young??but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?

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