Andrzej Stasiuk
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Buy *Nine* by Andrzej Stasiuk online

Andrzej Stasiuk
240 pages
May 2007
rated 1 of 5 possible stars

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Nine was translated to English from the original Polish, and something must have been lost in translation. The plot is difficult to decipher; it appears to be about some men who owe money to some other men - this might be for drugs or it might be for something else. Pawel, one of the money-owing men, turns to an acquaintance, Bolek, who happens to be a drug dealer, for money. Bolek gives him a phone number which he must call. Pawel then goes to his friend Jacek, an addict, for help. But Jacek has trouble of his own as he is being tracked by a bunch of thugs. There are a few women thrown in whose lives are just as miserable, if not more so, than the menís.

There are several problems with this novel, the most outstanding one being that only about a fifth of the book is actual plot. The rest is spent describing atmosphere, including bus routes, mention upon mention of route numbers and where they lead; locations which are only meaningful to Poland natives; and the strange dreams of characters. Unfortunately, most of this atmosphere does nothing to progress the story; in fact, it does harm in distracting the reader from the plot which leads to the next problem.

The plot is practically unintelligible. One of the major culprits in this is that the author refuses to use the names that he has given the characters. Instead, he jumps from character to character but only addresses them as he or she, him or her. This makes it nearly impossible to know which plotline you are reading. It might be possible to infer which character was being referred to if the plot werenít so convoluted. On top of this, the plot is not only hard to comprehend, it does not go anywhere very interesting.

Nothing much happens in Nine. Pawel, Jacek, Bolek and the rest spend there time trying to accomplish something without ever doing so. One guy needs money, another guy is being chased for money, a couple of other guys are doing the chasing, there are some drugs, sex and plenty of naked women - and thatís pretty much it all the way through to the end. No one gets what they need or want; itís a dead-end street.

Nine is a difficult read. The nearly incomprehensible plot makes it hard for the reader to get into the story, and the shallow characters make it difficult to care. Maybe in the original Polish the book is worth reading. Unfortunately, the translation is not.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Matt Eskesen, 2007

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