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I then looked back to the street; there was no one else except the two of us, and no sign of a bus. View all 8 comments. Oct 29, Jigar Brahmbhatt rated it really liked it. This line hints as aimless traveling. Maybe he is on the run. We are not sure. We know he has considerable money with him but we are again unsure of the means with which he acquired it. He stops in one village, finds a poor peasant girl, casually asks her to run away with him at night because he thinks he can provide her a better life, and they finally elope.
He makes her buy expensive cloths and accessories the next day. That same night in the motel "the girl was slightly giddy from the wine we had drunk at lunch, and now, as if trying to impress me with her newly acquired worldliness she must have learned from film and glamor magazines, she stood before me, her hands on her hips, her tongue moistening her lips, and her unsteady gaze seeking out my own". The scene ends there, but in my mind I visualized, almost immediately, terrible things happening to the naive girl after the narrative gaze was withdrawn from the scene.
Rose is his victim". That doesn't mean the hint of erotic violence in the scene set by Kosinski comes from our knowledge of having read Kafka. It is very much present on its own, subtly hidden in the tableaux. We are never sure what the narrator is thinking and that creates a chill at the end of every vignette, because this is that strange animal of a book which is comprised purely of capsule stories, anecdotes, reminiscences, and in some cases only two people conversing mostly a couple about flings one of them have had.
For the first few pages my constant attempt to find common characters because everything is centered on the characters, right? Most of the scenes involve an unnamed "I", so there must be a central character howling in a nameless desolate terrain. But in every tableaux his profession changes. Sometimes he is a soldier, sometimes "I was recruited to chip the paint and rust from a ship", sometimes "I worked in a long, narrow parking lot and lived off the tips".
We don't get the names of the places and are never sure of the setting. The narrator might as well be a vague human figure in a Giorgio de Chirico painting, charting a landscape rich with sexual and savage motifs. Sometimes he is an emigre. In one episode he even helps another emigre troubled by hoodlums, not out of charity, not without personal interests. Because we don't get or understand the motivation behind his deeds or his observations, totally lacking in moral judgement, he comes across as a hideous man.
It can be inferred that he has seen wars in his country and has emigrated to a nameless capitalist heaven doing odd jobs that are finally soul crushing. And even that interpretation smells of vanity because it is the reader's attempt to make rigid something that is flux-like and totally disembodied.
This postmodern novel I am tempted to call it that works because it is a brilliant example of de-centering, because it is like shredded paper and not a fine, shining page, because sometimes shredded paper is the best we have. In the middle of the book, "I" comes across a village where the villagers keep a demented, nude woman in a cage, and figures out that most of the men in the village rape her.
The conversation that follows with the village priest and the anger he shows is an epitome of moral courage. That's as high as he could rise. He never rises that high ever again, not in the scope of the book at least. Look at the face on the book cover gazing at you. Look at the eye. It is tired and creepy. Keep looking for some time.
View all 9 comments. Nov 03, Daisy rated it did not like it. The kind who bandies about stories of rape, bestiality and murder. The kind who is a virgin, and everyone knows it, yet goes around telling anyone with ears about how did this or that to some grateful woman, humiliated and used them and then left them to move on to the next one. Being structured as a series of vignettes means that the abuse and cruelty is not contextualised or explored and like pornography exists only as the vehicle of the act.
Characters are unnamed, settings anonymous and so we just have a series of violations witnessed or perpetrated by the various first person narrators. Ignoring the subject matter there is nothing artful about this writing. Tawdry, repetitive and charmless — avoid. I do like the experimental nature of the narrative and the stark narrative technique is alluring at first, so stark and arresting —although, as I insinuated above, the novel is quite empty of any real content, the narrative rather implies, insists even, that there is no such thing as content—and this insinuation is even more scandalous to the bourgeois mind perhaps than the war scenes, rapes, prostitution, incest, bestiality, mafia games, exploitations, random acts of violence etc.
Steps is kind of a fuck you to both literature and to the US bourgeoisie. Still, this reading only produced mild laughter from this aging punk. May 28, d. I would like to embellish on my non-review, but I do not feel I can with this one.
Jul 16, C rated it really liked it Recommends it for: adults, po-mo fans. Shelves: swords. Do you remember the game "Where's Waldo? The protagonist is on a quest to find a stable sense of identity in his post modern world. The question then becomes whether he succeeds or not.
From my Amazon. If art is, in part, the dance between artist and audience, then Steps is art in its highest form. That's a neat trick, Kosinski. In spare prose, the author takes his breathless reader think of how your oxygen intake changed while watching 'Panic Room' on a "depraved" jour From my Amazon. The scenes that are depicted would be described by a good buddy of mine as "filthy" -- and that they are. Bestiality, rape, exploitation, and beyond.
Far from the busy streets of NYC where the tranny hos walk amongst us, far from the prevalent teenage-flesh-peddling of The fact that humans are humans are humans are animals, in all of our glorious base desires and yes, just plain filth, was the most satisfying revelation of all. It is an excellent piece of art, and I can't believe I let it sit untouched on my bookshelf for six years after picking it up from a used bookstore in New Haven.
This is one book I won't be selling used on Amazon. Apr 30, Paul Bryant rated it did not like it Shelves: novels. Yes, a single star, but a richly deserved one. Mar 03, Drew rated it really liked it Recommended to Drew by: david foster wallace. Shelves: recommended-by-other-authors , national-book-award. Both of those, however, are a little self-indulgent. Journey is long and rambling and vitriolic, and Interviews , while not as long, goes on long digressions and gets mired in self-consciousness and occasionally uses prose impenetrable and soporific.
Not that that's necessarily a bad thing. But Steps is way more controlled, way more polished. Kosinski writes in a style that's unadorned, which I usually dislike, probably because it's so rarely well done. You hear sparse and unadorned, and you think, probably boring.
Or at least I do. But this is different. It isn't poetic, exactly, though I'm sure it's sometimes called that. Since I can't articulate it, I'll have to resort to quotes: "I was traveling farther south. But is it not ominous? This guy is traveling, but not just traveling - traveling aimlessly.
And who even does that? Grungy backpackers and criminals on the run. And what's the significance of "south" here? If he's not going to say the place itself, why give us "south? Anyway, it transpires that this guy is pretty rich, although there's the impression of ill-gotten gains. He picks up a young orphan girl in one village, doubtless thinking he's rescuing her from boring, impoverished village life. But it's not hard to see where this is going: he'll buy her nice things, and she'll have sex with him.
The anecdote cuts off before this happens, ending with " And that's where it really starts to get creepy. Because our fearless narrator doesn't know he's a hideous man. He does deplorable things, no more of which I'll spoil, without questioning his own motivations.
He fancies himself a student of the human specifically female psyche, but all he's really doing is constructing elaborate fantasies of what he thinks the girls are thinking. The more I think about this, the more I think it'd almost have to be a direct inspiration for Brief Interviews , though that may be just because I know Wallace read and liked it. At any rate, this is one I'll have to reread; I think it will get better with time. Steps is like something a younger, hornier Haruki Murakami might write.
You've got these terse, surreal little vignettes that are sort-of-but-not-really linked together, and all of which share this dark, creepily sexual sensibility. A bunch of odd little nothings, though not without their charms. Fair warning, there's bestial Steps is like something a younger, hornier Haruki Murakami might write.
Fair warning, there's bestiality in it. Several times. In my late teen years a stupid drinking game was popular in my native country: one was supposed to go to a party, get very drunk, and then puke on as many walls as possible, including the ceiling. I remembered that game when I was reading the first half of Jerzy Kosinski's disjoint novella "Steps". Kosinski, my compatriot, vomits repulsive prose in every direction, spewing about ugly sex, violence, and pain.
There is a young woman having sex with a "big animal". Genitals are crushed between two rocks until "the flesh became an unrecognizable pulp. There is a narrator in most vignettes, but it is only in the second half of the book that there is any conceptual continuity.
The twenty-first vignette, about a concentration camp designer and about rats as animals that deserve to be exterminated is the only piece of real literature that I can find in this horrid mess, which in received the National Book Award in Fiction, the highest literary prize in the U.
Brutality, perversion, and sex obviously have their place in literature, for instance when they serve to amplify the writer's message. I have read painfully brutal novels that also contained kinky sex scenes J. Coetzee's "Waiting for the Barbarians" comes to mind , but they might have a purifying effect and make me want to be a force for good. Reading the first half of Kosinski's novella made me feel defecated on. There is no message here; sex and violence are solely for shock value or maybe because of the author's mental health issues.
The second half of the book is different; there is a message of alienation, loneliness, and control, but that message has been voiced much better by many other authors. The deep chasm between the two halves of the novella is yet another flaw of Kosinski's work.
With the somewhat redeeming second half I can no longer call "Steps" the worst book I have ever read. One star. Jan 03, Peter Landau rated it really liked it. The action is almost universally perverse with kinky sex and violence that happens without clear relation, except in its bizarre repetition. There are chapters of a kind that begin to stand together as thematically linked to sex, religion, work, politics, etc. Or maybe not. Perhaps Kosinski is a pervert.
This novel stands on its weird tableaus and the strangeness embedded in its flat language. I prefer the mystery of a good book. May 09, Alex V. Consider mortadella. The Italian lunchmeat. It is like baloney but is remarkably better. All boiled and minced meats and chunks of fat pressed into a log and the sliced impossibly thin, each translucent circle having a sharper taste than any thick slab of anything.
It is a little repulsive, but in a way that is shockingly delicious. Everything is mostly horrible and everyone is horrible about it and yet, in that horror is the sharp shock of human essence, the thing that separates our rarified meat from the rest of the baloney in the world. I can't recommend this book enough. Continuing the deli metaphor for longer than any of the stories in STEPS, it is a party-platter of finger sandwich stories a page or two each, delicious morsels delivering new pangs of recognition at the next chomp.
It's not real food. It is purile, bro-lit at its most egregious, yet delicious. You eat it until you are sick. This is somewhat a strange case because I don't think it's technically a good novel; its minimal prose is bland more often than it's effective, the vignettes that make up the novel are often too short to go anywhere, the brutality and depravity depicted doesn't shock like it seemingly wants to since it's so plainly thrown up and quickly taken down, and it often feels lacking in any compositional cohesion.
And yet I'm very lightly drawn to it, there's a mild hypnotic feeling to it. It certainly d This is somewhat a strange case because I don't think it's technically a good novel; its minimal prose is bland more often than it's effective, the vignettes that make up the novel are often too short to go anywhere, the brutality and depravity depicted doesn't shock like it seemingly wants to since it's so plainly thrown up and quickly taken down, and it often feels lacking in any compositional cohesion.
It certainly didn't impress me, but it was a nice quick read with a few good vignettes and a sufficient atmosphere of despair and menace. Light or decent recommendation. Mar 19, Dan rated it really liked it Shelves: national-book-award-fiction. This metaphysical novel won the National Book Award for fiction in This is a good read, somewhat reminiscent of Kafka and in the cases where the protagonist is entangled in a crime - more like Camus or Dostoevsky.
The first vignettes are sexually focused. The latter ones are more concentrated on death. While some of the topics are unseemly and the protagonist is not sympathetic and guilty of many transgressions, when the veneer is all stripped away there are insights and truths that are bot This metaphysical novel won the National Book Award for fiction in While some of the topics are unseemly and the protagonist is not sympathetic and guilty of many transgressions, when the veneer is all stripped away there are insights and truths that are both memorable and interesting.
May 01, Jessica rated it did not like it. Steps is neither a novel nor a collection of short stories, but rather a series of untitled vignettes that may or may not be narrated by a consistent voice. The "I" in each story is clearly male, but little else is known about him; in each vignette he passionlessly details a series of events, most often culmintating in some kind of violence, usually against a woman.
It is obvious that Kosinski's intent is to delineate a world in which actions mean nothing, and those acting feel nothing. The ques Steps is neither a novel nor a collection of short stories, but rather a series of untitled vignettes that may or may not be narrated by a consistent voice. The question is whether he succeeds in making a statement about this kind of worldview, or whether he only stoops to the level of his characters by voyeuristically joining their exploits.
I'm not sure I know which is the case. In these tales women are bound, blindfolded, raped, kept in a cage, or otherwise used only for the momentary fulfillment of the narrator's physical desires. Occasionally a woman is given a voice in direct dialogue with the narrator, but these women are unrealistic, possibly products of the man's imagination, because they seem to tell him exactly what he wants to hear rather than what a woman would actually say: she tells him his ejaculation makes her feel "as though I were being christened: it was so white and pure"; she says that when he has sex with her during her period, she feels "as if your hardness made me bleed, as if you had flayed my skin"; she accepts sex from another man whom her lover had arranged for her because "the thought occurred to me that they were your hands.
Reading the book made me angry, and I felt more like Kosinski was outlining his own fantasies than that he was intending to cast judgment against his characters' behavior. I presume he meant to illustrate the consequences described in his introductory quote from the Bhagavadgita: For the uncontrolled there is no wisdom, nor for the uncontrolled is there the power of concentration; and for him without concentration there is no peace. And for the unpeaceful, can there be happiness? But still, I felt like he gloried too much in the telling of these tales, and that while the characters felt no happiness or peace, neither did they feel guilt or a sense that they were behaving inappropriately or even that there was a standard of propriety by which they could be judged.
The last story seems to leave room for the reader to pardon Kosinski for telling these tales; he prefaces it with the narration, "When I'm gone, I'll be for you just another memory descending upon you uninvited, stirring up your thoughts, confusing your feelings," and maybe in this case the "I" is Kosinski speaking directly to the reader.
Maybe he is telling the reader that his book is just a snapshot of one small segment of humanity, one we must acknowledge but not take to be the whole of human existence. I'm willing to accept this, but I still don't feel that it forgives the telling of these tales, which seem more to glorify the acts than to question them.
Let's have a toast for the douchebags Let's have a toast for the assholes Let's have a toast for the scumbags Every one of them that I know. If you simply read the lyrics of a lot of West's songs you might think that the music is simply a vapid reflection of its listeners.
Especially with this one. The speaker s talks about his philanderous actions he commits and then proceeds to ask how or why the girl would possibly leave them. The speaker is a rich pop-star that can buy her brand name stuff and take her on tropical vacations.
There are 3 important things expressed in the song 1 the speaker is a bad person douchebag, asshole, scumbag etc. And this is besides the fact in how the song is sung. You would probably expect this song to be sung harshly, brashly, proud, bold. But it's not. I can't exactly put my finger on it but it doesn't conjure up any of the previous words. Maybe a sense of rhythmic regret. In the same way that Runaway isn't meant as a glorification of the speaker, Steps does not read as the endorsement of the narrator's actions.
It's a statement of something that is, that exists. A callousness. One key feature of this book is that it resists chronology. It also resists names and place so that the reader is guessing at what country or language is being really spoken. Names, place and time are all convenient fictions, a way to separate and identify. But without that distinction, and with the deployment of the first person it feels as though the narrator is not so much a guy "out there" but somewhere inside.
The narrator doesn't want to let people in. He likes to have control and manipulate. The only way he lets people in is by telling stories, either directly to us or in the italicized sections when he's presumably speaking to his lovers sometimes about other lovers. So in this way he puts a degree or two of removal from being penetrated himself. He relates his callousness and vulnerability but does not ask for absolution. He asks for ears. He asks to penetrate in anyway he can. In this way Kosinski and West are striving to achieve the same thing.
Feb 18, Josh rated it really liked it. Vastly strange, enigmatic in a nearly dream-like way, deeply concerned with sex and sexuality. This is a book that opens itself up to you like a new love: you slowly uncover its secrets and reserve judgment until the end. Nov 27, Caed rated it did not like it Shelves: fiction , short-stories. A series of dark and fable-like stories, told from a barren first-person perspective.
The prose is a feat of subtraction: there are no proper nouns, few adjectives, and other characters are essentially husks, differentiated only by their gender and the narrator's relationship with them. The narrator may be the same person in each of these stories, or he may be a different person in each one. In any case, he himself has only three definite features: he is male, he is eloquent, and he has an inbor A series of dark and fable-like stories, told from a barren first-person perspective.
In any case, he himself has only three definite features: he is male, he is eloquent, and he has an inborn talent for extreme cruelty. It ruins itself with the specifics of its depravity, and begins to concern itself with sexual cruelty - in particular, sexual cruelty towards women - past a point excusable by realism.
If the narrator, pronoun-thin as he is, is less a person than an abstract principle of rape and destruction, then Kosinski's women are only principles of submission, inviting their degradation as much as they appear to resist it, etc. I don't feel underqualified in calling this book misogynistic, and lazily so. People apparently like The Painted Bird? I don't know. Kosinski had a brief career as an actor: he was a very good Zinoviev in Reds I'd prefer to have only known him that way.
Sep 13, Adam rated it it was amazing Shelves: present , prose. I reread this with the express hope of afterwards being able to articulate what hit me so hard about this book the first time I read it. Now I find myself even more convinced that this is a masterpiece, yet struggling to find the words to write either an extensive or pithy summary of my reaction to it. Naturally, I looked up Kosinski's Wikipedia page, because that's just what you do. I found that one great academic and one great author had both said these great little bits on Steps : "the nar Huh.
I found that one great academic and one great author had both said these great little bits on Steps : "the narrator of Steps That isn't to say I won't write much about it. I might sometime. View all 5 comments.
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