August 22, 2013

Necessary Errors by Caleb Crain



Necessary Errors by Caleb Crain
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Categories: Coming of Age, Literary, Prague, LGBT

Description:

An exquisite debut novel that brilliantly captures the lives and romances of young expatriates in newly democratic Prague 

It’s October 1990. Jacob Putnam is young and full of ideas. He’s arrived a year too late to witness Czechoslovakia’s revolution, but he still hopes to find its spirit, somehow. He discovers a country at a crossroads between communism and capitalism, and a picturesque city overflowing with a vibrant, searching sense of possibility. As the men and women Jacob meets begin to fall in love with one another, no one turns out to be quite the same as the idea Jacob has of them—including Jacob himself.            

Necessary Errors is the long-awaited first novel from literary critic and journalist Caleb Crain. Shimmering and expansive, Crain’s prose richly captures the turbulent feelings and discoveries of youth as it stretches toward adulthood—the chance encounters that grow into lasting, unforgettable experiences and the surprises of our first ventures into a foreign world—and the treasure of living in Prague during an era of historic change.

My Thoughts:

Expansive...that might be the perfect word for this book. The time span that it covers isn't very long but the depth to which it goes makes Necessary Errors feels like an epic.

The setting of Prague is wonderful. Czechoslovakia is struggling to find it's way after the Velvet Revolution that took place there in late 1989. Jacob and his band of expat friends are able to view history as it happens, they are able to be part of a city that is coming to grips with a new way of life. It's quite fascinating.


Caleb Crain
If I had small issue with this book it was the analytic tone. Jacob seemed to consider and evaluate every gesture and sentence. On the other hand, I remember being that age and doing much the same. Perhaps I have less tolerance for such evaluations now that I'm at a more mature age? 

The characters in Necessary Errors are intriguing. They are on the cusp of adult life. They are at the age when being unencumbered is wonderful but mostly taken for granted. Even though these were fictional people I could imagine them looking back at this time of their lives and wishing for the freedom, the adventure. 

Necessary Errors is a splendid debut. I look forward to reading whatever Caleb Crain writes next.

30 comments:

  1. I've been eyeing this one in bookstores. I love that it has a very expansive feel. Love reading debut novels and watching new authors as their careers unfold.

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    1. You and me both Brooke. This one is definitely a great debut!

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  2. Yeah, the analytical tone would get old after a while, but the book does sound good.

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    1. It was good, very detailed. I learned a lot!

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  3. I'm reviewing this later today! I much agree with you; the setting was wonderful, and although I found the characters a little pretentious sometimes, I thought it fit -- they're 20-something expats in Prague complaining about the increase in tourists. It felt right, to me.

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    1. I love reading about pretentious 20 something ex pats complaining about too many tourists. Reflecting back, I was one of them at a certain point in history.

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    2. I'll definitely be around to check out your review!

      LOL Tanya, I'd love hear more about that!

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  4. I may have to give this book a try. I haven't read a lot of books set in this area around that time.

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    1. Such an interesting time and place to learn about!

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  5. This sounds like it could be a really beautiful book. I've actually liked self-analytical characters lately, so it might be a good book for me to read soon :)

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    1. It sound like this could be right up your alley!

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  6. I don't think that I've read anything from that time period, so you know what that means! (we need to find a *TBR it* gif)

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    1. Ditto! TBR it gif! How can we make this happen? I have no skills, but I WANT!

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    2. Ha ha! We do need one of those! Or some sort of code word for "Thanks a lot now I have another book to put on my towering tbr pile"

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  7. I've been seeing this one in Goodreads a lot lately. It certainly sounds interesting but the analytic tone does not sound good!

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    1. You almost have to be in a certain mind set to read it. It totally took over my brain ;)

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  8. I waffled on this one when I saw it on NetGalley, but never requested it. Your review renews my interest in this book, though! The setting is one I'd love to read about.

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    1. One of the best parts of this one was the setting. I learned so much, which is the best :)

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  9. I like the title of this book. Thanks for your review.

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    1. You're welcome Pat :) Thanks for visiting!

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  10. I don't know much of anything about Prague, so this sounds really fascinating! I like the cover too... and is it just me, or does the author look a little bit like Walter White? Lol I did a double-take there.

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    1. Sweet Moses, he DOES!! Ha, I wonder if people ever tell him that??

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  11. Another great and honest review! Thanks for your willingness to point out, tactfully and with grace, what you don't like about books. It's so helpful to our readers. This sounds as if it's centered around a great story line. I love a good debut novel!

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    1. Thanks for your kind words :D I do try! This is a GREAT debut :)

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  12. Your description makes this one sound like what I WISH this new "New Adult" classification would be. I don't know for sure that I'd actually like this -- especially coming from a literary-critic-turned-author I worry that it might be too literary for me... but I love the idea of it.

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    1. Ohhh yes, I didn't even think of that Charleen! Great point :)

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  13. The setting sounds great - Prague! I think Caleb and I have something in common - overanalyzing things :)

    PS: I did comment on this post on Friday, I could've sworn, but maybe there was something wrong with my browzer the other day.

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    1. You'd probably really dig this one then Melinda ;)

      Stupid blogger is difficult sometimes :(

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  14. Hmmm I read both your review and Leah's, but I'm not sure if this book is right for me. "Expansive" is a word that kind of scares me. . .

    -Rebecca @ Love at First Book

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    1. I don't blame you ;) It wasn't an easy breezy read, that's for darn sure!

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