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1. The Pacific and Other Stories
2. Winter's Tale
3. A Kingdom Far and Clear: The Complete
4. A Soldier of the Great War
5. Freddy and Fredericka
6. Ellis Island and Other Stories
7. A Dove of the East: And Other
8. Memoir From Antproof Case
9. Digital Barbarism: A Writer's
10. Swan Lake
11. A City in Winter
13. Refiner's Fire
14. Refiner's Fire
15. A Soldier of the Great War, 1st
17. Ein Soldat Aus Dem Grossen Krieg
18. Winter's Tale [Full Leather Signed
19. The Veil of Snows
20. Mark Helprin

1. The Pacific and Other Stories
by Mark Helprin
Paperback: 384 Pages (2005-06-28)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$4.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000EPFVF0
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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At long last, almost ten years since his previous book, Mark Helprin returns with The Pacific and Other Stories, a collection of sixteen stories that display the remarkable scope, incomparable wit, and deft prose that have come to be his signature. A British paratrooper jumps into occupied territory; the 1958 New York Yankees gain an unexpected teammate in a puny, teenaged Hasidic Jew; a September 11th widow receives an astonishing gift from the contractor working on her new apartment—these and other stories exhibit the constantly changing variety of the ocean itself, the peaks and troughs of life. Lighthearted, glittering fables are met with starker tales that sound the depths of sacrifice and duty. The Pacific and Other Stories is a resplendent, powerful collection of lasting substance and emotional import. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (24)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Powerful and Moving collection
Mark Helprin is a master craftsman of stories.This wide-ranging collection of topics, eras, locations and story lines is reading that invites you in to travel alongside characters who live honorably, who love, suffer and inspire.I found this book after reading several others of Helprin's works, so I was already a fan.But if it had been the first work of his I had read, I know I would have gone looking for the rest of his works.He can make his points with fantasy, with humor, with accurate technical detail, or with pathos.And sometimes he brings all of these tools to bear within short stories that last only a few pages.Read this book to see what great short stories should be like.

1-0 out of 5 stars Don't Waste Your Money
I can't believe this book is rated highly. The writing is pretentious, overwrought and, at times, so off-base that I wonder if the writer ever knew anyone like the characters he attempts to portray. Helprin is out of his depth here.

5-0 out of 5 stars Short classics
If you enjoy short fiction buy this volume immediately. Helprin is a fantastic writer and he is in top form with this diverse collection which ranges from introspective to humorous. There is one story about a Jewish baseball player that threw me off for a few pages but give it a chance. It is one of Helprin's mythological classics.

These stories are not to be missed.

4-0 out of 5 stars A mixed collection of short stories
This is a mixed collection of short stories reflecting many different moods.The stories range from the lighthearted to the dark.Many are set during wars, some are about survivors after wars.Il Colore Ritrovato is about a bookkeeper who becomes an impresario when he discovers a gifted singer; Reconstruction is about a man whose mind escapes into his past; Monday about a contractor doing a good deed after 9/11; A Brilliant Idea of His Own is a man surviving during a special wartime mission during World War II; Vandevere's House is about a man obsessed with his possessions; Prelude is a somewhat funny story about the ultimate bureaucrat set to an assignment and then forgotten as he sets his own schedule (but he draws a paycheck).

The next story, Perfection, is a long, somewhat surreal story about a boy who saves the New York Yankees.The stories after that seemed to drift into a somewhat dark tone.Sidney Balbion is a washed up jewish entertainer in 1939, heading to his home country of Poland.Mar Nueva is a tragedy.Rain is about a deputy inspector of customs, getting old, and carrying on after the death of his son.Passchendaele is about a man's obsession with his neighbor's wife.Jabob Bayer and the Telephone I really do not know how to classify - it is set in a Russian Jewish community prior to World War I where people are breaking away from old traditions.Sail Shining in White is about a man confronting death.Charlotte of the Utrechtseweg is about a British officer dying at Arnhem.Last Tea at the Armorers is about a Jewish woman, survivor of a death camp when she was child, who is finding a new life in Israel.

The last story, The Pacific, is about the woman left behind when her husband goes off as a young U.S. Marine Corps officer in World War II to fight the battles in the Pacific.She works in a defense plant with 500 other women, and telegrams periodically arrive with bad news for women - a telegram was always bad news.

The stories are worth reading, but not everyone will like every story.I did not give the collection five stars because of the major mood swings, plus the fact that I could really not get into a couple of the stories

5-0 out of 5 stars Enchanting,
intelligent fables for adults. Great clarity of character developement. No word seems out of place. Imagery and mood are palpable. A splendid read. ... Read more

2. Winter's Tale
by Mark Helprin
Paperback: 768 Pages (2005-06-01)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$3.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156031191
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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New York City is subsumed in arctic winds, dark nights, and white lights, its life unfolds, for it is an extraordinary hive of the imagination, the greatest house ever built, and nothing exists that can check its vitality. One night in winter, Peter Lake--orphan and master-mechanic, attempts to rob a fortress-like mansion on the Upper West Side.

Though he thinks hte house is empty, the daughter of the house is home. Thus begins the love between Peter Lake, a middle-aged Irish burglar, and Beverly Penn, a young girl, who is dying.

Peter Lake, a simple, uneducated man, because of a love that, at first he does not fully understand, is driven to stop time and bring back the dead. His great struggle, in a city ever alight with its own energy and beseiged by unprecedented winters, is one of the most beautiful and extraordinary stories of American literature.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (213)

5-0 out of 5 stars A book I'll never forget
I first read this novel about 30 years ago. The beauty of the prose and scope of imagination will be forever etched in my memory. In addition it was a great story. This made Helprin one of my favorite contemporary authors. And Soldier of the Great War was just as good, if not better.

5-0 out of 5 stars A magical look at a great city
Helprin is one of my favorite authors; he is sort of America's answer to Garcia-Marquez in that he writes "magical realism" novels. Books which seem to be firmly set in reality, but sometimes skitter off into surrealism or fantasy.

This book for example, is the story of a mechanically gifted burglar, Peter Lake, who meets and falls in love with Beverly Penn, a young woman in the process of dying from tuberculosis, while attempting to burgle her house. Did I mention that Lake was being intensely pursued by Pearly Soames and his "Short-Tails" gang from the Five Points in NYC? Or that Lake lives in the crawl space above the star-studded ceiling of Grand Central Station, where he has arranged a sort of apartment? Well, you get the idea.

Helprin's vision of NYC, at both the beginning and end of the 20th century is very much a character in this book. The book is full of whimsey, passion and depth. The writing is lyrical. In short this is an amazing way to lose oneself for hours.

5-0 out of 5 stars a classic tale of winter
I have had the paperback copy of this book for years, It is an excellent story and gives mea warm glow whenever I read it.It's a bit long winded and flowery in places but a grand story non the less. I recommdend you give it a read.

4-0 out of 5 stars An enthralling mammoth, magical story!
Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale is a fabulous journey of a story told in exquisite and beautiful language, with some of the best metaphors I have encountered in any novel I have yet read.What may be more pleasing is Helprin's writing style than the actual plot, which has religious overtones I was not expecting.Although the novel is cast in the backdrop of New York City, the location of countless novels and stories, Winter's Tale is more about fate, death, dying, mortality, hope, and love than about the city.What I enjoyed most was some of Helprin's writing techniques that had the stamina to last the entire novel, such as the creation of an atmosphere of constant winter.I agree with some reviewers that the ending was a bit depressing.For a novel that carried on for hundreds and hundreds of pages this beautiful, magical story, I hoped for a more significant ending.It seemed the ending came abruptly, or, perhaps for a novel of 688 pages, Helprin should have started setting the stage for his ending a bit sooner to allow for it to have a bigger impact.

The novel opens with a white horse, who takes on the symbolic meaning of a higher power.It follows the life of Peter Lake, who was brought to the shores of the United States as an infant during the great immigration.As such, he is raised not by his parents but by a group of early people settled in the marshes around New York City.The magic seems to begin He takes on a life of crime as would a typical outsider to mainstream society.Peter Lake's magical, extraordinary life begins in his first encounter with this white horse.The next point of the novel is when Peter Lake meets and falls in love with Beverly Penn and their short relationship together.From then on, we are introduced to other characters, who have relationships with the Penn family or within their immediate circle of contacts.Some of these character developments arguably may be too long and if shortened could reduce the novel by some 100 - 200 unnecessary pages.I was left wondering about Evan, Marratta, the brother of Hardesty Marratta, who featured prominently in Hardesty's introduction to the story.All the other characters ever mentioned in the novel were accounted for and I kept thinking Hardesty was going to reconnect with his selfish, inhuman brother at some point, especially near the end of the novel when all the beauty of the city seemed to be dissipating as the time of one era gave rise to another.

Overall, Winter's Tale was a joy to read and only began to seem tedious (in all its many pages) when the two city newspapers, The Sun and The Ghost, emerged.It was at this point that I also felt the political and religious views of Helprin coming through.Such views are embedded in the entire length of the novel, but become clearer and more assertive toward the end of the story.I read an interview with Helprin where he said that his novel contained no elements of magical realism, but I noted great similarities between Helprin's metaphors and those of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a classic writer of the magical realism genre.

What I enjoyed most about Winter's Tale was the ability to lose myself in a mammoth, magical story that spans hundreds of years and is told by an author, who clearly has a gift for using the most extraordinary and beautiful language.What I liked least was the ending which wrapped up all the loose ends too quickly and lacked the depth that was present in the beginning and sustained throughout the middle of the novel, as well as the political and religious overtones that seemed to grow in weight towards the novel's end.Despite these minor drawbacks, Winter's Take is a great work of art and I am eager to read another of Helprin's novels and only hope it will match, if not exceed, Helprin's beautiful writing style and talent for creating a most enthralling atmosphere with only words.

1-0 out of 5 stars Couldn't get past fifty pages
I bought "Winter's Tale" at a used book store here in Brooklyn swayed by the praise I'd heard over the years.When I asked the youngish girl at the counter her opinion, she said she loved it but it wasn't to everyones liking.Boy, was she right.I got through fifty pages and just couldn't go on.As other reviewers have indicated, "Winter's Tale" reminded me of "One Hundred Years of Solitude".Having read and enjoyed Marquez's work twice, I would judge "Winter's Tale" more harshly as being almost derivative of that very book just set in NYC.As a native of New Jersey (Linden, next to the Bayonne prominently featured in the beginning) and a transplant to NYC, in no way did my limited read speak to me of the City I know in fact and fiction.The characters are devoid of life, the plot set ups preposterous and the prose like some shiny bauble.Obviously, many others readers, based on their glowing reviews, feel quite differently.So, put my bad review down to a matter of taste and, for me, a rare book that I could not even finish. ... Read more

3. A Kingdom Far and Clear: The Complete Swan Lake Trilogy
by Mark Helprin
Hardcover: 320 Pages (2010-10-20)
list price: US$40.00 -- used & new: US$26.35
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1606600125
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Editorial Review

Product Description

In a rare collaboration, bestselling authors Helprin and Van Allsburg worked for nearly a decade on this ambitious, multi-generational trilogy that pits the power of love and devotion against dark forces of greed and suppression. For the first time, this hardcover volume collects all three of Helprin's contemporary fantasies — Swan Lake, The Veil of Snows, and A City in Winter — along with Van Allsburg's sensitively wrought illustrations from the original editions. 42 full-color plates.
... Read more

4. A Soldier of the Great War
by Mark Helprin
Paperback: 880 Pages (2005-06-01)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$4.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156031132
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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For Alessandro Giullani, the young son of a prosperous Roman Lawyer, golden trees shimmer in the sun beneath a sky of perfect blue. At night the moon is amber and the city of Rome seethes with light. He races horses across the country to the sea, and in the Alps he practices the precise and sublime art of mountain climbing. At the ancient university in Bologna he is a student of painting and the science of beauty. And he falls in love. His is a world of adventure and dreams, of music, storm, and the spirit. Then the Great War intervenes.

Half a century later, in August of 1964, Alessandro, a white-haired professor, still tall and proud, finds himself unexpectedly on the road with an illiterate young factory worker. As they walk toward Monte Prato, a village seventy kilometers distant, the old man tells the story of his life. How he became a soldier. A hero. A prisoner. A deserter. A wanderer in the hell that claimed Europe. And how he tragically lost one family and gained another.

The boy is dazzled by the action and envious of the richness and color of the story, and realizes that the old man's magnificent tale of love and war is more than a tale: it is the recapitulation of his life, his reckoning with mortality, and above all, a love song for his family.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (173)

5-0 out of 5 stars `He liked to know where he was in the world and what was around him.'
This book tells the story of Alessandro Giuliani: both of his early life and his experiences in the Great War (World War I).Alessandro's story is framed within a long walk.In 1964, the 74 year old Alessandro, a retired professor of aesthetics, is travelling by streetcar from Rome to a village 70 kilometres away. At the edge of the city, he sees a young man running to catch the streetcar, but the driver will not stop to let him on.Alessandro demands to be let off the bus, and thus begins his walk with Nicolò, an illiterate 17 year old factory worker.
At first, the walk is about persistence - walking to a distant destination. But as Nicolò is stirred from complacence into curiosity, the walk becomes Alessandro's story of the Great War.

`There's nothing to tell about a war unless you tell how it began.'

Before the war, Alessandro lives a comparatively privileged life with his parents and his sister.He is a student of aesthetic theories, learning to experience many different aspects of life.And then the war intervenes.Alessandro's experience of war is complete: he is a soldier, a hero, a deserter and a prisoner.Each of these experiences has shaped him, and provides insights into the nature of war.The overwhelming sense was on successive losses: innocence; pride; belief and perhaps of love. Returning to Italy after the war, Alessandro finds that everyone he loves is either dead or vanished.

But the focus of the novel is not so much on disillusionment but on overcoming it.In Alessandro's world, it is possible to find beauty and joy in life almost anywhere. The strongest image for me is the one in which Alessandro looking into a marble quarry at night where men are splitting marble to make gravestones for the Italian dead.

`They appeared to be mining not stone but white light,..'

This is brutally hard work, Alessandro is about to become one of the workers himself, and yet he can see beauty in this scene. It took me a little while to get caught up in Alessandro's story but the writing had me enthralled from the beginning.This is a long novel - the paperback edition I read has 860 pages - but the story rarely falters.For such a serious novel encompassing so many serious issues it is a joy to read.

`Remember them, just remember them - in their millions - for they were not history, they were only men, women and children.'

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

5-0 out of 5 stars This book is wonderful
Whenever I have a difficult decision to make,I always ask myself, "What would Allesandro do."The book is exceptional.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Man who Still Heard Music
"The electricity rose up his spine and he trembled not from shock but because, over the sound of the guns, he was still able to hear sonatas, symphonies, and songs." Alessandro Giuliani is listening to field guns being tested in Munich in 1914, the year before Italy entered the War against Germany and Austria. Although mostly interested in the visual arts, Alessandro should know about music and beauty of all kinds; as a Professor of Aesthetics, it is his metier. But he learns about it the hard way. When the war breaks out, he is just about to take his doctorate at the University of Bologna. He volunteers for the Italian navy in the hope of avoiding conscription into the trenches, but he ends up in some of the worst fighting of the war nonetheless, facing the Austrians across the river Isonzo. Subsequent phases of the war will take him to Sicily, the high Alps, and many other places, and he proves as natural a soldier as he is an aesthetician. Alessandro's appreciation of beauty, which shines through every chapter of his reminiscences as an old man in the 1960s, has not emerged despite his exposure to death and danger, but because of them.

"Hundreds of men worked below, in a brilliance that made the vast quarry look like a piece of bright moon that had crashed to earth. They appeared to be mining not stone but white light, and when they took the stone in slabs and caused it to float through empty space, tracked by searchlights, hanging on gossamer cables and unseen chains, it was as if they were handling light in cubic measure, cutting and transporting it in dense self-generating quanta from the heart of magical cliffs."

Alessandro's image of looking down into a marble quarry as men work through the night to make tombstones for the Italian dead is one of dozens that have stuck with me indelibly since I first read this wonderful book a decade ago. It is a magical image, cinematic in is theatricality and scale, yet the men down below are prisoners working murderous sixteen-hour shifts, and Alessandro is about to join them. It is not that Helprin underestimates the brutality of war, or the hardship of suffering; it is just that Alessandro always finds things to marvel at, no matter how terrible things are around him. He finds wonder everywhere: in a midnight bathe in the Isonzo between the two front lines, in the sunlight glinting off a flight of birds that feed off the battlefield dead, in the walls of flame from burning stubble that line the Italian coast as he travels slowly southward on a cattle steamer, in the fury of a thunderstorm breaking over icebound peaks, in galloping a fine stallion across the plains of Hungary. "And how does God speak to you?" somebody asks him; "In the language of everything that is beautiful," he replies.

The only other modern novel that comes close in fantasy, wonder, or scale is David Mitchell's recent THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET. But this comparison also points to a weakness that I noticed on second reading but missed or excused the first time. At 800 pages, it is a long book, slow to get started and over-extended at the end. Although Helprin skillfully sets up the combination of reality and imagination at the beginning, and is careful to ensure that every episode, however colorful, is also realistically plausible, the long sequence of such events demands an increasing suspension of disbelief. There comes a time, after about 500 pages, when one wonders how many more humps and turns this roller-coaster has. There is also a bizarre thread, involving a former employee of Alessandro's father, a diminutive mad clerk placed in an important position at the Ministry of War, which seems more in the manner of CATCH-22 than the basic seriousness of the rest of the book.

And it is serious. It is a book about God, and honor, and joy, and endurance, and above all about love. Love in a spiritual sense, love among families, love between friends, the love of man for woman. There is a moment early in the book when Alessandro comes upon a young girl weeping quietly beside a Roman fountain at night. There is another when he goes to Venice to look at the enigmatic picture by Giorgione known as "La tempesta," involving a young soldier and a naked woman with a baby facing one another against the background of a gathering storm. Both gleam with that magical grace which Helprin conjures so effortlessly. But both will resonate throughout the book to wondrous effect, more than once bringing tears to my eyes, and lingering in my mind for ever.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interestingly written, unrealistic portrayals of love
This book had beautiful prose and fine details about WWI.However, the love story between the main character, Alessandro, and the object of his affection fell flat for me.The woman's character wasn't developed at all; her attraction for Alessandro was her extreme beauty, nothing else.Alessandro wasn't portrayed having any realistic emotions about the woman he loved.Alessandro had a self-referential, narcissistic quality about him that became boring over time. A good book, not a great one.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best book I've ever read
This is without question, the very best book I've ever read.An Italian attorney at 75 leaves Rome in the mid 1960s, and the story of his life comes out as he makes his way north to visit his daughter.It is literary, poetic, filled with action and compelling people and completely believable circumstances. ... Read more

5. Freddy and Fredericka
by Mark Helprin
Paperback: 576 Pages (2006-07-25)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$2.69
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143037250
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Mark Helprin’s legions of devoted readers cherish his timeless novels and short stories, which are uplifting in their conviction of the goodness and resilience of the human spirit. Freddy and Fredericka—a brilliantly refashioned fairy tale and a magnificently funny farce—only seems like a radical departure of form, for behind the laughter, Helprin speaks of leaps of faith and second chances, courage and the primacy of love. Helprin’s latest work, an extraordinarily funny allegory about a most peculiar British royal family, is immensely mocking of contemporary monarchy and yet deeply sympathetic to the individuals caught in its lonely absurdities.Amazon.com Review
Mark Helprin's picaresque romp, Freddy and Fredericka, begins with asecret rite on a Scottish hillside: the Prince of Wales, poised in his crispfield uniform, urges a falcon named Craig-Vyvyan to fly from his arm.Thelatest in a line of royal falcons with the ability to discern true kings andqueens, Craig-Vyvyan sniffs the air, sizes up the bewildered heir to thethrone, and refuses to budge.The falcon knows he isn't king-material, andso does the falconer, and so, in his heart of heart's, does the Prince ofWales. From this promising opening, Helprin spins a tale that ricochets intone between the silliness of The Naked Gun movies and the gravity ofa Wesleyan sermon. To prove their worth and prepare them to rule, thePrince and Princess of Wales--loose caricatures of Charles and Diana--areparachuted naked into New Jersey by night and ordered to reconquer Americafor Britain.

Helprin's theme is nobility--acquired, as well as innate. He puts thespoiled but well-meaning Prince and Princess through a series of farcicaltrials before they reach the startling conclusion that clean living, hardwork, and humility will bring out the best in them.The "funny" parts ofFreddy and Fredericka would have benefited from vigorous pruning--thebook itself is too long--but there are stirring passages on love and dutysprinkled among the gags and loopy names, and some spectacular landscapedescriptions--covert portraits of the force that drives the green fusethrough the flower and gives the House of Windsor its curious destiny.--Regina Marler ... Read more

Customer Reviews (66)

5-0 out of 5 stars sophisticated humour and mature insights
A most entertaining, funny, and wise adventure, starting with the night-time parachuting naked of Freddy & Fredericka [Prince Charles & Diana] down into Bayonne Meadows--an industrial swamp and wasteland in New Jersey.Her first thought is "Who will do my hair"?His military training and omnivorous reading prepare him to make the best of things--except for such cross-cultural misunderstandings as thinking that "pig" is equivalent to "bobby," etc.The worst of it for her is that when she goes down office halls pushing the mop-bucket with which she cleans toilets is that men do not cast admiring glances her way.They both rise to their menial tasks, support themselves for the first time, and learn to truly love one another.They come to appreciate the greatness of America, and, after a year or so, arrive back in England--wiser and happier than ever.

4-0 out of 5 stars Laugh out loud funny
A great book and a fun jab in Americas ribs, especially during the Bush years. Some of the satire was a bit cliche but fun nonetheless.

1-0 out of 5 stars Freddy and Fredericka
I'm an avid reader....and, I think, a discerning, though fair one.I generally give a book an open mind and the benefit of the doubt.So, when I say that this book was just plain bad...I don't say it lightly.Usually,I find it impossible not to finish a book, no matter how dreadful.But I must say, this one was almost more impossible TO finish.It ranks among my top 5 WORST books ever read.It was mildly humorous a few times, but for the most part, it was SO goofy it was just ridiculous - beyond funny, beyond silly, beyond absurd - it was, instead, painful and pitiful.Any attemptat satire was so heavy handed and blatant as to be ineffective.Further, the ad nauseam replay of the the same da*&^%n misunderstandings, be they linguistic or cultural, played out in slow motion, detail-for-detail was SO tiresome.Until you read a bit of the book you won't understand what I mean, but believe me, once you've read a bit of the book......rest assured, that's the WHOLE ride you've signed up for.

2-0 out of 5 stars A Big Disappointment for a Helprin Fan
Helprin has become increasingly silly and has, it seems, lost his touchstone.Even where he attempts to rhapsodize about human existence in Freddy and Fredericka, he is too verbose and misses the mark.It is not horrible, but it is not great literature, either.

1-0 out of 5 stars childish puerile
I am a great fan of Mark Halperin. I loved "Winters Tale" which was a lyrical, often beautiful fantasy, and "Soldier of the Great War" which I found a moving evocation of love, life and war. So it is with real regret that I have to report that this latest book is nothing but childish balderdash.
Yes I know it comes festooned with praise but someone has to say that the emperor has no clothes. How utterly sad to see a talented writer waste his considerable gifts on this.
The humor is below 3rd grade level, to the extent that we are invited to chuckle about a character called Pha-Kew and a dog called Taxi. I also found the book in very poor taste. The characters are obviously based on Prince Charles and Princess Diana. In view of her tragic end, mocking her alleged brainlessness and devotion to fashion seems perculiarly unamusing.
To be effecttive, satire has to be based on some element of truth. I'm not sure what is being mocked here -- Britain or America or both -- but after 400 increasingly tiresome pages I ended the book wondering what it was all about and why the author wrote it.
The royal pair are parachuted into New Jersey wearing something called 'hracneets' -- bikini-like garments. Just the word itself tells you all you need to know. If you find this kind of stuff funny, the Pha-Kew!
... Read more

6. Ellis Island and Other Stories
by Mark Helprin
Paperback: 216 Pages (2005-09-05)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$2.08
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156030608
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

Winner of the Prix de Rome and the National Jewish Book Award, these ten stories and the title novella, "Ellis Island," exhibit tremendous range and versatility of style and technique, yet are closely unified in their beauty and in their concern with enduring and universal questions.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Lyrical Collection of Short Stories in the Style of Magical Realism
Mark Helprin is the author of one of my favorite novels, Winter's Tale.In this collection of short stories, he again shows the beauty of our language through his utilization of lyricism and magical realism.Some of the stories are so lovely that they can be read again and again.My favorites in this collection are:

--Letters From the Samantha
--A Vermont Tale
--Blais de Justice
--Ellis Island

Ellis Island is related to 'A Winter's Tale' and several of the stories could easily be turned into novels.

5-0 out of 5 stars Magical!
Few writers can evoke a sense of place and mood like Helprin. The first story, "The Schreuderspitze", is as mystical and moving a story as you'll ever read. "Ellis Island" brings to mind the best of Issac Bashevis Singer. These are brilliant, mature, beautifully crafted tales by a master.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Prelude to Great Works
I am not a regular reader of short stories.In general, I do not like them.Still, as a Mark Helprin fan, this is one of his few works that I had not read.I pressed on ... when I concluded the final story, Ellis Island, I felt completely satisfied with the journey.If you've never read Helprin, I believe "Ellis Island" and "A Vermont Tale" are most representative of his longer works.Each story will tempt you to read his novels, all of which are poetic magic.As I read through these stories, I saw glimpses of each subsequent novel, particularly my favorite, "A Winter's Tale."If you've read Helprin before, you owe yourself the time to read this collection.If you are new to Helprin, this work will encourage you to read more.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Beautiful Stories
My first encounter with Mark Helprin was his long novel, Winter's Tale.Ithought it was perfect:glorious and mysterious, realistic and magical,funny and fantastic and wondrous and sad.It was almost too much of a goodthing; sort of like chocolate decadence topped with mocha ice-cream anddrenched in hot fudge sauce.

The stories in Ellis Island and OtherStories offer the same enticing overdose of goodness but in smaller doses. Lest you be thrown off by the cover or the title, these stories aredefinitely not history or even historical fiction.They are notexclusively about immigrants, Europe or the War, although threads of thesesubjects do run through them.

The title story, Ellis Island is thelongest and the last.It is about the Ellis Island and immigration, ofcourse, but it is also fantastic fantasy complete with a wonderful machinethat melts the snow from the streets supported only by its own jets offire, the Saromsker Rabbi and his glorious sermon on bees, the lovely Hava,and Elise, whose hair is nothing less than a pillar of fire.Of the elevenstories, Ellis Island comes closest to Winter's Tale in its spirit offantasy, although A Vermont Winter best describes the perfection of a deepNortheastern snow.As in Winter's Tale, in Ellis Island, Helprin is notaverse to destroying beautiful things for the sake of a larger good, evenif the logic of his narrative does not demand that he do so.But that, yousee, is Helprin; for him death is just another part of art.

All of thesestories are brilliant and all of them are beautiful.In TheSchreuderspitze, a photographer deals with tragedy in the luminous beautyof the Alps; in Letters from the Samantha, questions of humanity and guiltare dealt with on an iron-hulled sailing ship in 1879; in Martin Bayer, weget to know a small boy on the eve of war; in North Light and A Room ofFrail Dancers, we glimpse the devastating effects of battle on soldiers. La Volpaia is wonderful, wise and witty and Tamar is nothing if not lovelyin the extreme.White Gardens and Palais de Justice defy any sort ofdescription; you simply must read them and then savor themyourself.

Anyone who has read any of Helprin's other works knows hecertainly has a way with words.Here are words from the end of Tamar thatnot only describe the story's beautiful seventeen year old protagonist, butserve to sum up this volume as a whole:Perhaps things are most beautifulwhen they are not quite real; when you look upon a scene as an outsider;and come to possess it in its entirety and forever; when you live in thepresent with the lucidity and feeling of memory; when for want ofconnection, the world deepens and becomes art.

These stories are nothingif they are not art.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not a Good Jumping-Off Point
I have to preface my comments by stating that though I was dissappointed with this collection, I remain an ardent fan of Mark Helperin. A Soldier of the Great War is one of the most finely-realized novels of the past twentyyears. It's in many ways unfare to compare a writer's masterpiece with acollection of short-stories written 25 years earlier. But simply as someone making recommendations to other readers, I would suggest startingwith a writer's magnum opus and working one's way back from there. I'drecommend reading The Brother's Karamazov before suggesting Poor Folk, forinstance, or Anna Karenina before the Kreutzer Sonata.

What Ellis Islandrepresents is a writer still in the process of finding his footing. We seein many of these stories the genesis of what will become the themes andmotifs that will preoccupy the mature artist. The characters are consumedby romanticism and wanderlust, even the Vermont cranes who occupy a centralposition in the collection. The writing is lyrical and quite often moving.At times, however,it comes across as too consciously poetic, the metaphorsforced. While Helperin strives for Joycean epiphanies, his endings toooften come off as carelessly constructed fade-outs. This is particularlytrue of "The Schreuderspitze" and "Martin Bayer." Iagree, however, with the reader who singled out "A Vermont Tale"for praise. It stands out in this volume as a forerunner for the type ofcontrolled symbolism Helperin will later perfect. It really is, to use ahackneyed term, a "haunting" tale.

The title-piece of thiscollection, "Ellis Island," was the source of my biggestlet-down. The narrator, who goes by several names (as the mood hits or thesituation dictates), is a thoroughly unsympathetic character, in myopinion, and I really don't believe Helperin intended him as such. Thesetting is turn-of-the century New York and "Moishe" (we'll callhim that to avoid confusion here) arrives at Ellis Island along with aboatload of Jewish immigrants. When he is inspected, his odd demeanorcauses the agent to lable him as an anarchist and he is shunted off alongwith other undesireables to be deported. He is saved from his situation bya red-haired Scandinavian beauty who presents herself herself at anopportune moment (for some reason couples are allowed more readily into theNew World than singles). When finally ashore in New York, Moishe sets offon a series of improbable adventures (this is where the "magicalrealism" comes in). He has a brief affair with a "beautiful"artist's model (Helperin's characters never settle for plain-lookingwomen)and finally beds down and settles with a "beautiful"seamstress. Finally he recalls the compact he'd made with the"beautiful", red-haired Dane and returns to Ellis Island (andhere I don't want to spoil the ending for readers who haven't read it yet).Suffice it to say, however, that the ending intentionally parallels theending of "A Vermont Tale," involving the loons. Let's also justleave off by saying that the ending didn't "work" for me and leftme feeling that Moishe comes across as less than heroic, which Helperinhasn't led us to expect.

If this series of stories had been written byan author for whom I had lower expectations, I would have awarded it 4stars. My standards were set so high by "A Soldier," however,that I had to settle on three. Definitely give his novels a try if youhaven't already done so. ... Read more

7. A Dove of the East: And Other Stories
by Mark Helprin
Paperback: 192 Pages (2005-06-01)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$1.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156031019
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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The twenty stories here, many of which first appeared in The New Yorker and have since been anthologized throughout the world, are strikingly beautiful essays on enduring and universal questions: In Rome, in the hour of his death, and American priest must choose between his Church and his God. An Israeli scout risks the safety and respect of his comrades in an act of transfiguring gentleness and charity. In a hot, dirty typewriter ribbon factory in the Bronx, a young man finds love. A Dutch child in a Canadian orphanage carries in her heart, her love for her parents and the pain of war. A soldier is overpowered by his days of burying the dead. A Sicilian widow meditates on the end of her family line. These twenty stories are strikingly beautiful pieces on enduring, universal questions by a writer the San Francisco Review of Books calls "a master crafter of the short story."
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Customer Reviews (3)

1-0 out of 5 stars Sorry tosay I couldn't stand this
I found the English awful. Actually quite impressively bad for something that has, surely, been professionally edited.

I only wrote technical documents, but there are simple rules, there are things you don't do. For example repeatedly using the same adjectives. Then there's the punctuation, or lack thereof. The similes and metaphors are trite. It's like reading the writing of a teenager.

People liked this? Someone published it? Amazing.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Collection of Stories
Helprin truly is, as a friend observed, one of our greatest living writers.These stories are sublime and affecting.Katrina, Katrin' is as moving a story as I have read, and A Dove of the East does extra duty - it's a thought-provoking examination of the human condition on one level, and a look back in time at the Middle East.

These stories do what good stories should: Make their impact during and immediately after reading, and then reappear in your consciousness at a later time, triggered by a tangential event perhaps, or an emotional shard.

5-0 out of 5 stars Helprin's short stories are lovely.
If you are wondering if it is worth while to read one of Helprin's mammoth novels (they are all, uhm, Big), you can get an idea from reading either a book in the Swan Lake trilogy (hard-to-find children's books, illustratedby Chris Van Allsburg), or one of his short story collections.I cherishhis short stories, and this collection is one of my favorites.The varietyof time, place, and subject matter, the vividness of the telling, and thekindness and sympathy he gives his subjects - all make the storiesworthwhile.

Mark Helprin's novels, and many of his short stories, makeme feel as though constellations are coruscating in my mind.RichardPowers's novels, e.g. The Gold Bug Variations, also have this effect on me. I wish the whole world would read their books! ... Read more

8. Memoir From Antproof Case
by Mark Helprin
Paperback: 528 Pages (2007-08-06)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$1.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156032007
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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An old American who lives in Brazil is writing his memoirs. An English teacher at the naval academy, he is married to a woman young enough to be his daughter and has a little son whom he loves. He sits in a mountain garden in Niterói, overlooking the ocean.

As he reminisces and writes, placing the pages carefully in his antproof case, we learn that he was a World War II ace who was shot down twice, an investment banker who met with popes and presidents, and a man who was never not in love. He was the thief of the century, a murderer, and a protector of the innocent. And all his life he waged a valiant, losing, one-man battle against the world’s most insidious enslaver: coffee.

Mark Helprin combines adventure, satire, flights of transcendence, and high comedy in this "memoir" of a man whose life reads like the song of the twentieth century.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (65)

5-0 out of 5 stars A modern-day Don Quixote
Mark Helprin, as in all his other books, proves himself in Memoir from Antproof Case to be an absolute master of language, of emotion, and of description. This book is powerful, ambitious, funny, tragic, and beautiful. I highly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Physics of Fantasy
Mark Helprin writes books that have a remarkable sense of whimsy, built on a foundation of hard scientific truth. The narrator's life is a series of remarkable highs and lows, taking him around the world and exposing him to history in the making. His adventures range from dramatic to silly, but ultimately they all come together in a coherent plot that is extremely satisfying.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of Helprin's best
This book is a little quirky (as suggested by the title) which for me makes it all the more interesting. Helprin is a great writer and he is in top form with a truly fascinating plot and characters to match, topped off with a satisfying ending.

The book takes place in recent history with events in Brazil, New York, and the Hudson River Valley.

I've recommended this book to several people and all of them have enjoyed it a great deal.

3-0 out of 5 stars Will Only Drink Coffee from Starbucks
I made the mistake of making this one of my beach books this year and maybe that's why I didn't really enjoy it.Who knows, had I read it when I could give it a bit more attention, I may have liked it more.

Like all of his books, the writing is excellent.The story line is a bit out there, but that is a hallmark of his fiction.I give it three stars for the few really humorous parts and the resolution towards the end of why the main character detests coffee.I don't give it the remaining two stars because:(1) it is hard to keep track of a complex plot when a line of short stories jumps back and forth and sideways in and out of time; and (2)it uses 50,000,000,000 words to say what could be expressed in 2,000,000,000 - maybe an ant or two or maybe even ten should have been put in the case before it was closed.I am one of those people who, for reasons I can't explain, can only enjoy the taste of coffee if it comes from Starbucks and has flavors in in.This seemed more like coffee from the local Speedway gas station.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mark Helprin will be remembered from our age as one of the three best writers.
I began reading Mark Helprin's short stories when I was studying for my MFA-W. Then I picked up WINTER'S TALE. Flying horses, burglars and robbers who steal colors, gorgeous scenes of New York City when there were horses, snow, and inexplicable good guys and bad guys. I've read everything he's done since.

MEMOIRS FROM ANT-PROOF CASE is a look at war and the oddities, courage, memories, and reflections of man at his most excellent (?) memory - which are stories - and man's troubling misunderstanding of the acts of war. It is written with such heartbreaking insight, such elegant style, and such fulfilling personal acclimatization to the human enigmas I predict you will keep it in your library for good. I have two copies of his every work for fear I, by having gone once too often to sanctuary from the sins of confusion, may fail to retain one.

Philip Shelton
Novelist ... Read more

9. Digital Barbarism: A Writer's Manifesto
by Mark Helprin
Hardcover: 256 Pages (2009-05-01)
list price: US$24.99 -- used & new: US$9.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B002XUM1UC
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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World-renowned novelist Mark Helprin offers a ringing Jeffersonian defense of private property in the age of digital culture, with its degradation of thought and language, and collectivist bias against the rights of individual creators.

Mark Helprin anticipated that his 2007 New York Times op-ed piece about the extension of the term of copyright would be received quietly, if not altogether overlooked. Within a week, the article had accumulated 750,000 angry comments. He was shocked by the breathtaking sense of entitlement demonstrated by the commenters, and appalled by the breadth, speed, and illogic of their responses.

Helprin realized how drastically different this generation is from those before it. The Creative Commons movement and the copyright abolitionists, like the rest of their generation, were educated with a modern bias toward collaboration, which has led them to denigrate individual efforts and in turn fueled their sense of entitlement to the fruits of other people’s labors. More important, their selfish desire to “stick it” to the greedy corporate interests who control the production and distribution of intellectual property undermines not just the possibility of an independent literary culture but threatens the future of civilization itself.

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Customer Reviews (28)

4-0 out of 5 stars Copyright and why I should care
For some time, I have wondered what the big deal is about copyright.Even as a novelist with six books published, I didn't think there was much wrong if my work suddenly appeared on the Internet without my prior knowledge.Great advertising.And free.However, at the same time, there was a little voice inside that kept saying, "Hey, that's my work.Maybe I should be more diligent about checking to see if anyone has pirated any of it (although I might have more to worry about if they had been more successful)."I didn't fully understand the implications on either side of the argument.Until now.

Helprin was angry, or at least sounds angry in Digital Barbarism.Being attacked for expressing his opinion on copyright would probably account for that.The nature of most of those attacks could only make it worse.His experience also points out that this is a subject that evokes strong feelings and not a little confusion on the rules and how some of us perceive the issue.Helprin clarifies some of the arguments for copyright and the value to authors and other creators of various types of work.(I'm still unclear on how owning the rights to the books I have written creates a monopoly.Anyone else can write on the exact same subject.Anyone can read my books -- they're in libraries as well as having been sold in stores.And anyone who wants can quote from them or own them.)

Stealing digital material is relatively easy for many people and that seems to be some sort of justification for doing just that.It's just as easy as, say, speeding or running a stop sign.All three are illegal, potentially harmful to someone, and are becoming commonplace.Helprin sees such behavior as indicative of a less moral and law-abiding society, which is a scary possibility.The book is not easy to read, as described by other reviewers here.But it is worth the effort.Helprin's prose is sometimes dense, but beautifully written. Still, I now have a better idea of why I should be concerned about copyright law and how it effects me and my work and that of others.

5-0 out of 5 stars Worth ten times the price
I would have gladly paid 10X the price of this book for the privilige to read and reflect upon the prose therein:

"...Henry Adams thought that at the beginning of the twentieth century the world had begun to move at an unsustainable pace.Little did he know, and perhaps in light of the future little do we, but now the rhythm of life is not that of the dynamo, with its gleaming copper windings, or the steam engine dripping water like a draft animal in the heat, but the silent, invisible, unapproachable electron, incomprehensively fast and indifferent, to which, as we accommodate, we sacrifice much of what is in us by nature.All for fear of not following in the wake of its speed and power, for fear of missing out, of not having, and of being left behind. "

While compelling in its arguments, Mr. Helprin's book transcends the issues and subject matter it so ably discusses.Simply, I am a better man for having read it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A brilliant, Menckenesque look at copyright
I've actually never read any of Mark Helprin's fiction, but after reading this book (well, listening to the audio version) I'm planning to do so. He has such a way with words that it was a joy to listen to his arguments. Other reviewers have summed up the content of the book, and, while I used to lean on the side of the freetards, I'm now more in line with Helprin's suggestion that copyright be extended as much as possible.

Helprin writes like Mencken, with that sort of creative contempt for stupidity and vapidity that is missing in our day and age. Too often, commenters and bloggers just repeat the same, tired arguments, with vituperative language and ad hominem attacks. These "boobs" - to use Mencken's term - went rabid when Heplrin published an op-ed about copyright in the New York Times. Helprin joyously (though I have the feeling that he wasn't that happy about them) pushes aside their arguments and presents one that, while in the minority, makes a lot more sense. Some of my work is intellectual property, and why should I allow the government to say that I can't pass that on to my descendants? Interestingly, the same people who criticize this idea are often libertarians (or lean in that direction) who don't want government getting in the way of anything.

All in all, this is a brilliant book, worth reading not only for the unique voice but for the arguments in favor of copyright. Just because it's easy to steal digital content doesn't mean it's morally correct, or should be allowed by law. You may not agree with Helprin, but if you are a Reader, you'll love the way he presents his case.

5-0 out of 5 stars Marvelous
An inspired and beautifully written book. The ferocity with which its point is being missed is testament to the book's power--many realize they are being flayed, but they are not quite sure how. But the fact that Helprin easily overpowers his oppressors--who offer little in the way of sensible argument--is secondary to his real purpose, which is to make the unfashionable case for thought and deliberation. Well, and bravely, done.

4-0 out of 5 stars Has a better polemic ever been written?
I'm no doubt setting the bar far too high. And I don't know exactly what to say about this book except that...having just finished it, I feel the need to read it again, this time with pencil in hand.

Did I need to read a couple of hundred pages more or less devoted to copyright law? Not at all; how many do, really. Normally I might have even passed over the original editorial that sparked the controversy with little more than a glance.

But this book is about much more than its ostensible topic; it's a meditation on human freedom and creation and also on our limitations. Along the way, seemingly out-of-the-blue observations of great wit and perception pepper the text. Add to that a great many thrusts of the dagger and, well, I need to go back with a pencil the second time around.

Recommended for readers predisposed toward the tragic view of life. ... Read more

10. Swan Lake
by Mark Helprin
Paperback: 80 Pages (1992-10-26)
list price: US$20.00
Isbn: 0395646472
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The two-time Caldecott medalist illustrates Mark Helprin's enchanting story of the characters in Tchaikovsky's famous ballet. "Helprin does not simply retell the story from the ballet, he relates, instead, his imaginings of a larger story behind it, a romantic saga spanning several generations . . . Created from soft strokes of fine-textured line shaded into contoured shapes of color, the hauntingly beautiful illustrations continue the best tradition of narrative art." -- Booklist, starred reviewALA Best Book for Young Adults ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

3-0 out of 5 stars from [...]
This version of Swan Lake (1989) is written by Mark Helprin with fabulous color illustrations by Chris Van Allsburg. The story, of course, is very similar to the famous ballet.

An old man lives on a mountain with a young girl who, as children of her type often do, wants to venture down from the safe seclusion of their mountain to find her parents. Seeing this, the old man tells the girl a story to show her what she will encounter below: A story about a prince and a princess named Odette. As the old man relates the story of these star-crossed lovers, it becomes apparent that their fate is intimately linked with the young girl.

While parts of the story are excellent and the illustrations are truly stunning, the book on a whole left me cold. Helprin's writing is odd. I have written at length in other areas about my strong dislike of modernizing fairy tale stories with references to things like newspapers in a story clearly meant to be set in an earlier time. It might have been funny in Shrek but in any attempt to relate a story as a true fairy tale it just fails miserably, creating a disconnect between the reader and the story.

5-0 out of 5 stars My favorite book. Ever.
I first read this book when it was newly acquired by our local public library. I was all of 11 then, and while I'd read a fair amount of books (I was a precocious child), this one stood out. I never forgot it. Ten years later, I wanted my own copy. I had to search high and low for it, finding it only through special order (and it took WEEKS to get).

At the age of 21, I was just as affected. This book transcends the original story of Swan Lake, grabs you by the throat and insinuates itself into your soul. I'm not kidding, either. Helprin tells the truth about humans and love in profoundly simple, poetic language. I'm not even sure it should be called a child's book.

I don't know what else to say. Read it. Make them publish more of these books.

5-0 out of 5 stars When the world was young
These were the images.The ability to heighten your senses. To smell the sunshine on the grass. To be alive in the breezes. Awaken to love and loyalty. Heart stopping and heart wrenching. A tale for all ages.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best read ever
This is one of the best books I have ever read!I have read it several times over and the story never grows old.It holds me captivated to the very last page through every reading.(I also cry every single time.)If you are the kind of person who loves the story of Romeo and Juliet I garentee that this book is for you.

5-0 out of 5 stars A truly wonderful story
Swan Lake is a beautiful book. The story of the old man, the little girl,the true prince and the beautiful Odette is told with simple elegancethrough the eyes of the wise old grandfather. I read this book out loudwith my friend, and we could have stayed up all night, caught up in thebeautiful, heartbreaking tale of love and life and learning. We laughed andcried, and sat stiff with suspense. We were filled by turns with sorrow andjoy, despair and hope and sometimes a mixture of them all. Everyone shouldread Swan Lake, for this book is truly a treasure, a gem that will shinebrightly for years to come. ... Read more

11. A City in Winter
by Mark Helprin
Hardcover: 147 Pages (1996-10-01)
list price: US$22.50 -- used & new: US$6.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0670868434
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Driven to avenge the murder of her royal parents and reclaim their lost kingdom, a daring young princess confronts the city's conqueror, the Usurper, with the aid of two unlikely rebels. 150,000 first printing. $150,000 ad/promo.Amazon.com Review
Another ambitious and glossy collaboration between novelistMark Helprin and illustrator Chris Van Allsburg, continuing the storyof Swan Lake,their earlier book that recreated the ballet classic forchildren. Emulating MauriceSendak's reinterpretation of The Nutcracker, boththe earlier book and A City in Winter abound in winter seasonatmosphere and fairy tale magic. At the end of Swan Lake, the unnamedlittle girl who has heard the story of a prince and his beautifullover Odette usurped from their kingdom by evil forces, realizes thatshe is the daughter of the pair, and the rightful heir to thekingdom. As the sequel begins, the girl is now an adult, restored tothe throne as queen. She recalls her return to the city at age ten,and tells how the restoration came about. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

4-0 out of 5 stars Curious and Entertaining

What a strange book this is!Part childrens' fairy tale (old school - bad things do happen to good people), part political satire, part fantasy, A City in Winter weaves an enchanting melody amidst its disconcordant environment.

I'm not sure who the target audience is - the illustrations and language make the book suitable for kids, while the bizarre characters and convoluted social system are friendly rejoinders against centralism and establishment.

One thing is certain - it is brilliantly written - a captivating book that takes little time to devour.The imagery is outstanding, the characters are engaging and enjoyable, and the plot moves along handsomely.For as short a book as this is, there is sufficient depth to make it worth more than one read.

4-0 out of 5 stars READ A CITY IN WINTER!!!!
A City In Winter is a wonderful book. It's about a little girl who goes on an adventure to find the person who killed her parents. When she gets to the village, she meets two bakers who's names are Astrahn and Notorincus. They help her throgh the story. They told the little girl that if she ever got caught, to tell them that she's a yam culer. During the story, the little girl works in the yam kitchen and finally meets up with the tutor, that raised her when she was little. He knows that she is the queen and in order to keep her safe, he sacrifices himself to tell everyone that the queen is alive. Also in order for the queen to be safe, Astrahn and Notorincus ran up the stairs to the tutor's room. On the way, Astrahn is shot and can't go on. So Notorincus finished running up the stairs and kept the queen safe.In the end the little girl opens the door and everything and everyone gets silent, for they know that she is the queen.I thought that this book was a great book!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Very Nice
This i must say is one of the most kickin books i ever read. the themes of good and evil are represented so fully in this book.The sequel to this novel is just as well recieved by me. If you really are reading this then i hope i have touched your soul and that you read this book. This is specificly to Mark Helprin, you are the coolest author i have read in so long.If you write anymore then you email me and i will read it as soon as i can find it. In other words you rule.
Peace out,

5-0 out of 5 stars A Classic Tale
I loved this series by Mark Helprin.I'm a big fan of Winters Tale, and this was just as enjoyable.These are wonderful to read aloud to children, or to pass around and take turns with, as we've done with the Harry Potter and other series.Beautiful artwork, and thick shining pages make this book a keepsake, and a sumptuous pleasure to read.In this retelling of Swan Lake, all things are possible... you'll find yourself laughing one moment, tense the next, and always riveted. I also found the strong and triumphant female lead character refreshing, ..the story is told from her point of view, after all this has happened, a narrative to her not yet born child.

5-0 out of 5 stars A letter to Mark Helprin
Dear Mr. Helprin,

Hi! I'm one of your fans.I'm a ten-year-old fourth grader. I have just read your book A City in Winter and I enjoyed it. I also liked the illustrations-nice choice to collaborate with Chris Van Allsburg. I loved everything about your book!

I can even summarize A City in Winter for you.Your story starts out with a queen writing to her unborn child about her difficult life.She writes about her grandparents being assassinated by an evil usurper when her mother was a baby, and the same usurper assassinated her own mother and father when she was a baby.

Until this Queen was ten years old she lived in the mountains as a simple country girl who barely knew a soul.Her tutor, or as she knew him growing up "Grandfather," told her about her real history when she was almost ten years old.When she discovered her history, she set out to find and free her rightful kingdom from the evil usurper who rules her people cruelly.

When she reached her kingdom she became a yam sorter in the palace that the usurper had conquered. In the middle of her time there her tutor came to her and gave her the message that the scholars in her kingdom had been waiting for a sign of her existence for ten years. The sign would be "a burning angel through a darkening sky."This sign would alert her Damavand army generals that they should assemble and it would give the people courage to rise up against the usurper. At the end of the book the Queen opens a door and looks out over her assembled troops, but what will happen to her next?Have you written or have you considered writing a continuation of this book?If you haven't, I recommend doing so because I found the ending a real cliffhanger.

I would recommend this book to anyone. Your writing is sculpted beautifully; you make me feel like I'm in the kingdom you write about.I'd like to find out more about your life and your writing.

Your fan,

Divina ... Read more

by Mark Helprin
 Mass Market Paperback: Pages (1984-01-01)

Asin: B000HWJLBA
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13. Refiner's Fire
by Mark Helprin
Paperback: 560 Pages (2005-06-01)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$2.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156031078
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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An orphaned immigrant's experiences take him from the Hudson River Valley to Harvard, off to sea on a British merchant ship, then finally back to his birthplace, where he serves as an Israeli soldier in the Yom Kippur War.
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Customer Reviews (19)

4-0 out of 5 stars A dazzling and original work
Mark Helprin's "Refiner's Fire" is one of the most original fictional books I have ever read. Written in a whimsical, almost magical, style, the book begins with the main character, Marshall Pearl, ailing in a Haifa Hospital, gravely wounded from an artillery shell fired near Mount Hermon in the opening salvo of the Yom Kippur War. From there, the book tells the story of his life, from being born an orphan on a refugee ship in Palestine to fighting Rastas in Jamaica and searching for the story of his father amidst the frozen crevices of Mount Chamonix.

While adventuring through the world, Marshall goes through tests small and large, each of which will help make him into a man. Although the reader begins the book knowing that there will be some point at which Marshall goes through the refiner's fire, Helprin makes the story up to that moment both full and complex. Rather than just letting the big events do the shaping, Helprin shows how a person like Marshall, naturally brave and independent, can be tested in all sorts of ways, knowingly and unknowingly, and then draw upon the results of those tests for when it really counts.

The book demands the attention of the reader and, if it is given, the reader is rewarded with a lovely, intricate tale replete with beautiful language and thoughtful observations. For instance, while in the hills of the West Bank, Helprin observes that, "It was easy to die near Jerusalem, as easy as falling in the undertow of a history which surged in tides and currents and was unknown, but left its marks like wind eroding the rock. All things conspired there on a high part of the stage upon which they had come at their risk."

At the same time, however, although the majority of the book was involving, there were stretches in which the writing was a little too dream-like and detached, a bit distracting from the plot. Had the book contained fewer cluttered sentences and focused more on the difficulties and trials that cause "steel and gold and silver [to] spring from the previously soft souls of the tried," I believe it would have been an even stronger effort.

Still, the book is a great achievement and its sometimes-crowded and reaching sentences can be overlooked in a story of great beauty, told by a dazzling writer. Highly recommended.

2-0 out of 5 stars Read "Soldier of the Great War"
I've read all of his books now and I think this is the weakest of his novels. Read "A Soldier of the Great War."

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest novels ever
This is one of those novels that you cannot put down, or even forget long after you've read them. The story of Marshall Pearl's life is so immeasurably beautiful, and so memorable, that this is one novel that everyone should read. And re-read.

2-0 out of 5 stars Perfection Bites
I really, really wanted to like this book. As a notorious non-liberal -- an extreme rarity among modern fiction writers -- Helprin stands outside the cant and blather of much of what gets praised today. As a proud Jew and a Zionist, he is even more of a pariah. "Refiner's Fire," among other things, is very clearly an answer to the neurotic, sniveling, physically weak and incompetent image of the American Jew as perpetrated by Philip Roth, Woody Allen, Saul Bellow and others; Helprin's protagonist, Marshall Pearl, rides, shoots, and swaggers with the best of 'em. I tend to agree with Helprin's politics and attitudes. However ...
However, it is impossible to love perfection, and Marshall Pearl is perfect. He is tall. He is handsome. He is apparently irresistible to women and never, never has a heartache of any kind. He is filthy rich. He is almost abnormally neat and clean. He is brilliant, entering Harvard with, as far as I can see, approximately nine years of schooling and nothing like an SAT or a recommendation. He is a cartoon action hero, whose risks always pay off, whose self-consciously picaresque adventures invariably end in triumph. Almost none of the novel's hundreds of events are evenremotely believable, nor is the writing sufficiently surreal to succeed as fantasy. This is a terrible waste, and a shame.
There is no growth, no change, not even the most rudimentary kind of development open to this character. Like Athena, he springs essentially full-grown from his creator's head, and then does -- what, exactly? Who cares? This isn't a novel -- it's an anti-sixties polemic in the guise of a novel. If Helprin wants to hate his generation, that's his problem (talk about neurotic!) -- if I want to read a novel which is pro-Israel and pro-America, I still want to read a novel. I want plot, suspense, surprise, development: none of which are to be found here.
It really is too bad, because the man can write like nobody's business. We cannot divorce ourselves from our times, no matter how much we may want to need that separation.

2-0 out of 5 stars Well,.....
Helprin, Mark, Refiner's Fire. New York: Knopf, 1977.
This is an early novel by an established fiction writer--and op Ed writer for The Wall Street Journal--which gives hints into the events that molded his later life and political views. Subtitled "The Life and Adventures of Marshall Pearl, a Foundling," the novel bumps along, back and forth, through the first 25 years of the protagonist's existence, giving us close views of the English blockade of pre-Israel Palestine, the easy life in upstate New York, rural Colorado, hopping freights, working in a slaughterhouse,an admiral's headquarters in Norfolk, rebel warfare in Jamaica, and scenes of Rotterdam and Paris. The writing is uneven, ranging from breathtaking descriptions of battle scenes to the utmost teen-age gooeyness about romance. It's easy to spot the author's background pool of knowledge and experience: naval service, veteran of the Israeli army, perhaps some farming. What he lacks most is a way to portray with convincing fervor the interior life of women, and a technique for avoiding the adjectival slipperiness of overwriting. What surprised me was the uncharitable description of Israeli army officers guarding a prison compound known as The Fourth Daughter, an area reserved for convicted criminals and the insane, into which Marshall is mistakenly transferred and where he is mistreated almost beyond the reader's ability to follow him.
... Read more

14. Refiner's Fire
 Hardcover: Pages (1977)

Asin: B000OKM77A
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15. A Soldier of the Great War, 1st Edition (Signed)
by Mark Helprin
 Hardcover: Pages (1991)

Asin: B0015KJ0Z0
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16. (A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WAR) BY Helprin, Mark ( AUTHOR )paperback{A Soldier of the Great War} on 01 Jun, 2005
 Paperback: Pages (2005-06-01)
-- used & new: US$16.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0044S4Z1O
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17. Ein Soldat Aus Dem Grossen Krieg
by Mark Helprin
Hardcover: 894 Pages

Isbn: 3100302044
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18. Winter's Tale [Full Leather Signed by Author]
by Mark Helprin
 Hardcover: Pages (2007)

Asin: B003XEM8CI
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19. The Veil of Snows
by MarkHelprin
Hardcover: 128 Pages (1997-10-01)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$13.55
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0670874914
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
"Long ago, in the time of the old emperor, I was young and just beginning in my profession. The Usurper was there, and one could not escape his evil presence....An enthralling story in the time-honored tradition of Lewis Carroll and C. S. Lewis. Although her kingdom has lived in peace for many years, the queen has always feared the day the Usurper would return to plunge her city into darkness. Even as she rejoices in the birth of her first child, she sees signs of impending danger. Her husband and his army have vanished in the wilderness. With only a short time left to reinforce the kingdom's defense, her faithful general masterminds a strategy to keep the city safe, against great odds. But even when the Usurper's victory may seem to be complete, the mysterious veil of snows hides a symbol of undying hope.The Veil of Snows is a moving and powerful tale about the light of the human spirit,light that can never be wholly extinguished. The Veil of Snows, which stands on its own as a compelling story, also completes the Helprin/Van Allsburg trilogy that began with their first collaboration, Swan Lake, which Publishers Weekly called "elegant and beautiful...wise and musical." As Kirkus noted in a pointered review of A City in Winter, the second book, "The sheer scale of the city [Helprin] envisions will enthrall readers of any age...."Mark Helprin is the acclaimed author of books for adults and children, including A Soldier of the Great War and the best-selling Winter's Tale (both Harcourt). He lives in New York state. Chris Van Allsburg is a two-time Caldecott winner, for Jumanji and The Polar Express (both Houghton). ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars A must have in my library:)
I immensely enjoyed reading all three of the books in this trilogy by Mark Helprin. Great books to use for vocabulary lessons! Wonderfully visual and unusual descriptions. My favorite part of Veil of Snows was the little speech the queen gives an insufferable Tookesheim (a family of poppish,idiotic members who consume themselves with absaloutly nothing most of the time) about all of the realness she has tasted in her life. It was great! Read it:)

2-0 out of 5 stars Skip this one altogether--A City in Winter is a better ending to the trilogy!
Oh, it should have been stunningly beautiful and creative like the first two books. Instead, it was a truly depressing and 2nd rate end to the trilogy. While clearly others disagree, both my sister and I (we both love Swan Lake and A City in Winter) agree that it would have been better to have never read this ending. Trust me on this...there is no redeeming feature of this 3rd book that warrants you marring the beauty of the others. You'll be missing out on nothing but disappointment and lackluster gloom.

5-0 out of 5 stars Helprin delivers an elegant masterpiece
In "Veil" Mark Helprin and Chris Van Allsburgh offer up a mythictale which, while dark, will disturb and delight readers of all ages(though the elegant, sometimes labrynthine prose style will probably appealmore to older, more sophisticated readers). This book (as well as itspredecessor, "A City In Winter,") is no doubt destined to becomea classic, both to fans of fantasy and of children's literature for itsmoving story and its religious/philosophical themes.

Van Allsburgh'sillustrations, while charming, are not essential to the understanding ofthe story, often interrupting the imaginitave "flow" of the proseitself. However, younger readers will still appreciate the bright, colorfulimages.

With this title, Mark Helprin has solidified his reputation asone of, if not the, premier American fantasists, a reputation which beganwith the mythic "Winter's Tale." It will remind Helprin fans whythey are fans to begin with, and is no doubt destined to create some newones.

5-0 out of 5 stars extremely enjoyable triumph of the human spirit
having listened to this book on audio cassette i have nothing but good things to say for the narrator and writer.I loved this story and havelistened to it more than once. I can only hope the author will do us thehonor of continuing this trilogy.

Finding something with little or no badlanguage is challenge enough these days but to get to hear and/or readsomething of this caliber is a joy unto itself. please Mr Helprin writeanother installment of the story. please please please

In all honesty Iam 25 years old very well read in varios topics of interest to me but stillthis book deserves credit.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beauty and Ugly Truth as well
A simply incredible book of hard-to-find wonder.Unlike some of the others, my husband and I liked the Tookyshiem parts best.The queen's speech against them was a classic. At least that's my opinion. A gem of a book.They should reprint the prequels! ... Read more

20. Mark Helprin
by Mark Helprin
 Hardcover: Pages (1997)

Asin: B003XKMGS8
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