In the Hand of Dante - a Noodlemantra's review

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In the Hand of Dante - a Noodlemantra's review

Unread postby nebraska » Sun Aug 27, 2006 1:38 pm

I have finished reading In the Hand of Dante!!!!! :bounce: :bounce: and DITHOT thought I should give you a report since not too many of us have read the book. So, here are my thoughts on it, and bear in mind this is heavily peppered with personal opinion.

Let me get some negative stuff out of the way first….

I had two things against me before I started reading the book. 1. I have not read any of Dante’s work and know nothing of his life. And 2. My two years of high school Latin 40+ years ago left me unprepared to translate the poems written in Latin (at least, I think that’s what it was) . There were several long Latin passages (not to mention Arabic symbols scattered through the book). So I might have been in a little over my head before I started. :banghead:

There were two main story line threads throughout the book, with another one or two lesser story lines that tied into the others after a few chapters. For quite a while I had a difficult time telling what character was the focus of a chapter, sometimes until I was half way through it. :-? After a while I began to catch on to Tosches’ style and it became easier to figure out who he was talking about; also, as the book narrowed to two main themes, I could tell what was going on by the language of a chapter, either a more modern vernacular or a somewhat more archaic language.

For all those reasons it was a very difficult book to read. However, the writing is absolutely exquisite! Sometimes I would read 3 or 4 pages of theology or philosophy rambling and not understand more than one sentence of what I had just read….but the writing was so beautiful I continued to read anyway and find pleasure in it. The words flowed like music, with a lovely rhythm and cadence and descriptive clarity. (By the way, one of these lengthy bits was on the significance of 3, and I couldn’t begin to explain what it all meant :dunce: but it seemed pretty profound at the time , and I thought of Johnny’s tattoo) . Although I might not be able to spell out the point of all these thoughts about God and time and prayer and other things, I got a sense of what was meant, and I have to say I feel some sort of inner peace or growth or something from having been exposed to the ideas.

Here and there I found a phrase worth underlining and pondering. Sometimes I made note of pages-long narrative to return to later for further thought. Most of the really “deep” stuff was more than I could comprehend :-/ , even on a good day.

As a story it was sort of average. It seems funny to put the story line of a novel last in my report, but the story seemed less important than the ideas for most of the book. Lots of exposition, either through dialoge or thought, I guess you could say pages and pages of stream of consciousness, while the story just kind of stayed in the background. The story itself had enough happening to keep me reading, but nothing on the scope of say Shantaram or Fierce Invalids.

But once again, the writing was brilliant – the gangster parts were almost too vulgar and violent to bear reading :-O ; the “love gone bad” parts were really painful to read. And when the poet entered a darkened hushed room, Mr. Tosches' words painted such a visual picture that the atmosphere was almost palpable. He is a very talented writer! :cool:

Did I enjoy the In the Hand of Dante? Yes, very much, for several reasons.

Would I recommend it? Cautiously. It is certainly not a book everyone would want to read.

Am I eager to read a similar book? Not any time soon. :stretcher:

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Unread postby Joni » Sun Aug 27, 2006 7:00 pm

I appreciate you taking the time to write this report, nebraska. My copy has been sitting on my bookshelf for 3 years now. I did try to start it twice, but twice I did not get very far.

After reading your report, I'm definitely going to give it another go. Third time lucky, perhaps? :eyebrow: I'm particularly interested in reading about the significance of 3.

Thanks nebraska ~ :bouquet:
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Unread postby Liz » Sun Aug 27, 2006 7:07 pm

I'm interested in the section about "3" also. It sounds like an interesting book, Nebraska--maybe worth a look. The way an author writes can be just as important as the storyline. It's too bad, though, that the plot didn't measure up to the prose. Thanks for the review. :cool:
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Unread postby PhD » Sun Aug 27, 2006 7:08 pm

Thanks for reading and posting, nebraska! I wonder if there's an In the Hand of Dante for Dummies? It does sound very interesting, but I'm not sure it's something I could get through.
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Unread postby nebraska » Sun Aug 27, 2006 8:49 pm

It took me two tries to get started also. The thing about the beginning is that it has little to do with the real plot, Louie the gangster is not a major character.......and those first scenes that feature him are disgusting.

The parts about the three start around page 170 . Good luck!

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun Aug 27, 2006 8:57 pm

PhD wrote:Thanks for reading and posting, nebraska! I wonder if there's an In the Hand of Dante for Dummies? It does sound very interesting, but I'm not sure it's something I could get through.


PhD, I could use that sort of help on several books! :lol:

nebraska, thank you for very well written and insightful review and kudos for making it through the book! :cool:

If anyone else would like to add their :twocents: now or in the future, please feel free to add you ideas to the thread.
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Re: In the Hand of Dante

Unread postby RuaGirl » Sun Aug 27, 2006 10:00 pm

nebraska wrote:I have finished reading In the Hand of Dante!!!!! :bounce: :bounce: and DITHOT thought I should give you a report since not too many of us have read the book. So, here are my thoughts on it, and bear in mind this is heavily peppered with personal opinion.

Let me get some negative stuff out of the way first….

I had two things against me before I started reading the book. 1. I have not read any of Dante’s work and know nothing of his life. And 2. My two years of high school Latin 40+ years ago left me unprepared to translate the poems written in Latin (at least, I think that’s what it was) . There were several long Latin passages (not to mention Arabic symbols scattered through the book). So I might have been in a little over my head before I started. :banghead:

There were two main story line threads throughout the book, with another one or two lesser story lines that tied into the others after a few chapters. For quite a while I had a difficult time telling what character was the focus of a chapter, sometimes until I was half way through it. :-? After a while I began to catch on to Tosches’ style and it became easier to figure out who he was talking about; also, as the book narrowed to two main themes, I could tell what was going on by the language of a chapter, either a more modern vernacular or a somewhat more archaic language.

For all those reasons it was a very difficult book to read. However, the writing is absolutely exquisite! Sometimes I would read 3 or 4 pages of theology or philosophy rambling and not understand more than one sentence of what I had just read….but the writing was so beautiful I continued to read anyway and find pleasure in it. The words flowed like music, with a lovely rhythm and cadence and descriptive clarity. (By the way, one of these lengthy bits was on the significance of 3, and I couldn’t begin to explain what it all meant :dunce: but it seemed pretty profound at the time , and I thought of Johnny’s tattoo) . Although I might not be able to spell out the point of all these thoughts about God and time and prayer and other things, I got a sense of what was meant, and I have to say I feel some sort of inner peace or growth or something from having been exposed to the ideas.

Here and there I found a phrase worth underlining and pondering. Sometimes I made note of pages-long narrative to return to later for further thought. Most of the really “deep” stuff was more than I could comprehend :-/ , even on a good day.

As a story it was sort of average. It seems funny to put the story line of a novel last in my report, but the story seemed less important than the ideas for most of the book. Lots of exposition, either through dialoge or thought, I guess you could say pages and pages of stream of consciousness, while the story just kind of stayed in the background. The story itself had enough happening to keep me reading, but nothing on the scope of say Shantaram or Fierce Invalids.

But once again, the writing was brilliant – the gangster parts were almost too vulgar and violent to bear reading :-O ; the “love gone bad” parts were really painful to read. And when the poet entered a darkened hushed room, Mr. Tosches' words painted such a visual picture that the atmosphere was almost palpable. He is a very talented writer! :cool:

Did I enjoy the In the Hand of Dante? Yes, very much, for several reasons.

Would I recommend it? Cautiously. It is certainly not a book everyone would want to read.

Am I eager to read a similar book? Not any time soon. :stretcher:


Tosches is definitely a "man's" writer.

ITHOD is my favorite book, ever, and it has the greatest opening line of a book, ever.

If you don't have much of a background in Latin and Dante, it will be a long, slow slog, but even a passing acquaintance will help.

Tosches write for Vanity Fair, and wrote an absolutely fascination book called "The Last Opium Den". He also wrote a terrific bio of Sonny Liston and another good one on Dean Martin.

I highly recommend it, but if you're used to more "girly" stuff, you'll hate this. It's also very violent.

Regards,

Rua

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Unread postby Veronica » Sun Aug 27, 2006 10:12 pm

I am glad to read your review because I felt the same things. I did not finish this book because I had a hard time with understanding it & I had a hard time reading the profanity in it. I was embarrassed to curse like that in my head. lol This was the first Johnny related book I picked up. I chucked it after about a third of it. I wrote it off as a man book that I just couldnt relate to. Maybe I will skim through some of it again just to see if I can get a grip of it.

thanks for your review! :cool:
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun Aug 27, 2006 10:17 pm

Thanks, RuaGirl for adding your thoughts about the book. Everyone that has read it certainly seems to have a pretty strong opinion one way or the other.
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Re: In the Hand of Dante

Unread postby nebraska » Sun Aug 27, 2006 10:35 pm

RuaGirl wrote:[

Tosches is definitely a "man's" writer.

ITHOD is my favorite book, ever, and it has the greatest opening line of a book, ever.

If you don't have much of a background in Latin and Dante, it will be a long, slow slog, but even a passing acquaintance will help.

Tosches write for Vanity Fair, and wrote an absolutely fascination book called "The Last Opium Den". He also wrote a terrific bio of Sonny Liston and another good one on Dean Martin.

I highly recommend it, but if you're used to more "girly" stuff, you'll hate this. It's also very violent.

Regards,

Rua


Thanks for your input!!!! I am glad to hear from someone else who enjoyed the book.

I hadn't really thought of it as a "man's book", but the story line is a guy's fantasy, I agree - lots of sex, money, and power. A lot of it seemed really cerebral for a man..thinking a little deeper than the men I am used to being around...but maybe that was the point. More mental gymnastics than emotion. Although he seemed to be able to portray deep emotion very well.

Didn't "the Last Opium Den" enter the discussion in some other thread? I can't remember now, but it seems we have touched on it before. Amazing how these things keep tying together.

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Unread postby dawnarose » Mon Aug 28, 2006 12:23 am

Your comments were very interesting. I wonder, does Johnny have some connection with this book or author? Curious as to why the discussion of this book is here on this board....

Thanks in advance for any info!

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Unread postby Joni » Mon Aug 28, 2006 12:29 am

Johnny is good friends with the author, Nick Tosches, and in a magazine interview, Johnny gave a list of books he was reading, or recommended, at that time (I think it was the summer of 2003), and In The Hand of Dante was one of them.
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Unread postby Theresa » Mon Aug 28, 2006 12:42 am

Joni wrote:Johnny is good friends with the author, Nick Tosches, and in a magazine interview, Johnny gave a list of books he was reading, or recommended, at that time (I think it was the summer of 2003), and In The Hand of Dante was one of them.

It was in USA Weekend, July 6, 2003


Weekend with . . . Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp has a habit he can't shake: reading. He reads four or five books at a time; they're scattered around his house. Depp's latest finds:

In the Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches. A novel about Dante and his masterpiece The Divine Comedy. “Unbelievable,” Depp says. “I read anything by Nick Tosches.”

Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by Tom Robbins. The weird adventures of a CIA agent with a taste for sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll and the supernatural. “Great. Fantastic. Hilarious.”

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind. The 18th-century tale of a man born with an extraordinary sense of smell. “I'm re-reading it.”

Black Dahlia Avenger: The True Story by Steve Hodel. A veteran L.A. police officer seeks to solve a notorious 1947 murder. “Pretty fascinating.”

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Unread postby Liz » Mon Aug 28, 2006 12:56 am

Thank you, Theresa. :cool: I've been trying to make this post for the past 15 minutes, but keep getting "page cannot be displayed". Now we have an actual reference, though.

He also was going to read for the audiobook (or another by Tosches) and that fell through. And then there was this picture that was posted in Entertainment Magazine, which we used for awhile as our logo, when we first started ONBC. I’m sure that this picture was drawn to depict Johnny’s interest in the book.

Image
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Unread postby dawnarose » Mon Aug 28, 2006 1:50 am

Thanks everybody for that info.....

I read "Perfume"---what a book. Blew me away, and I don't usually read fiction. But, this book was an exception.
Dawna-Rose


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