Reviews

Passi by Jerzy Kosiński

anicea's review against another edition

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1.0

I really wanted to like this book, but vignette after vignette of obvious male sexual fantasy started to become tedious and offensive. There are a lot of women in the novel, but not once are they portrayed as anything more than a body to abuse and/or spew back phrases that would only exist in a man's imagination. A woman's first experience with oral sex: "I loved what was ejected from you: like hot wax, it was suddenly melting all over me, over my neck and breasts and stomach. I felt as though I were being christened: it was so white and pure." SERIOUSLY?!

Since a lot of content was taken from his own life, I cannot think of Kosinski in any other way than being a misogynistic asshole.

jessrock's review against another edition

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1.0

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 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." These are not women's voices, but rather a man placing his own fantasies in a woman's mouth.

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.

jgh514's review against another edition

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dark emotional mysterious fast-paced

2.0

kewlpinguino's review against another edition

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2.0

I read this because DFW endorsed it and I was intrigued by the premise of this and Mr Kosinski's other books. I guess it's good, but I feel like it's a little too literary for me: by which I mean, it's not really my thing. I do, however, plan on reading [b: The Painted Bird|18452|The Painted Bird|Jerzy Kosiński|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1348130740s/18452.jpg|825359] and [b: Being There|677877|Being There|Jerzy Kosiński|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1348519587s/677877.jpg|873033] at some point.

kingkong's review against another edition

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2.0

What a creep

aaronlindsey's review against another edition

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4.0

An interesting, often disturbing novel. It’s more like loosely connected short stories. Some of what I just read will be in my mind for years to come.

infinitejoe's review against another edition

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3.0

Short prose without feeling overly staccato, so kudos for that. As for the material itself, it's definitely some dark, sexual, and violent stuff. The longer parts were done rather well, and held my interest to the point where I would consider reading a full-length Kosinski novel. However, the short stuff was often odd and unsatisfying, and felt like something a disturbed teenager would write in his journal, the journal that would eventually be found under his mattress by the police during their investigation into the 'unspeakable incident'. Anyway, the book had it's highs and lows, and some scenes will surely stick in my head, but I wasn't overly impressed, certainly not as much as DFW was.

xelaruus's review against another edition

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4.0

An elegant series of terse, voyeuristic prose that makes the reader queasy. One searches for a moral narrative and finds only an amoral one in this topsy-turvy world without rules. It is like an exhibit of photographic negatives, and the human psyche is the subject. A journey through the world beneath yet very much within the world we know. A nauseous trip through a sociopath’s memory tapes. Communism and capitalism, traditional institutions and postmodernism, sexuality and chastity, individuals and societies all seem equally positioned in the author’s chilly guillotine. I don’t know what to take away from this book ideologically, but right now I think my mind just needs a bath. It seems mostly to be an exploration of what people will do with power when they can get away with it, and at times how the institutions around them enable their misdeeds.

ravuri's review against another edition

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2.0

I'm not sure what to make of this book. The perverted sexuality/violence didn't ring any of my bells as it did for some others (notably DFW). It's not that I'm bothered with the themes (which will turn off a bunch of readers), but I had the same reaction reading this as I had for 2666 and Blood Meridian*, which is, maybe it's intellectually stimulating for some people, but not for me.

Reading some other goodreads reviews, I noticed that the people who enjoyed this book liked being forced to reconcile the ego/superego revulsion of and the id arousal by scenes from the book. I get that, but, the subject matter, no matter how terrible it may be, is ultimately prosaic.

* This is not to say that the violence in 2666 and BM is the same as Steps, that.