Customer Reviews for

We, the Drowned

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Ambitious Story

"We, The Drowned" by Carsten Jensen is a spellbinding, award winning (Danske Banks Litteraturpris) fictional book which spans 100 years in the lives of the inhabitants of the small Danish coastal town Marstal. Jensen's debut novel is already hailed as an instant classic...
"We, The Drowned" by Carsten Jensen is a spellbinding, award winning (Danske Banks Litteraturpris) fictional book which spans 100 years in the lives of the inhabitants of the small Danish coastal town Marstal. Jensen's debut novel is already hailed as an instant classic and rightfully so. Laurids Madsen goes off to fight the Germans along with other men of the town of Marstal in 1848. Laurids ends up on a boat which explodes and sends him up to the heavens, only to land in safely in his heavy boots, claiming he showed St. Peter his ass. However Laurids is lost to Marstal and abandons his family. Albert Madsen, Laurids' son sails in search of his missing father. Albert finds seedy company, warfare and a shrunken head. Upon his return Marstal begins to change rapidly as the women try and reclaim the men from the ocean. Albert mentors the small boy Knud Eric who grows up to be a sailor as well, against his mother's wishes. Through Knud's eyes we see World War II, how he becomes a man and, together with other Marstal natives, fights the Nazis. The characters in the book come right off the page. The whole town comes alive and the reader gets to know the main characters as well as the supporting cast. The women who go on living with their fathers, husbands, brothers and sons off for years on a voyage who they might, and often not, come back. We get to feel the anxieties and aspirations of the sailors, the plight of the women as well as the town's children. The subject matter of this book is not pretty and often brutal. Marstal is a town of sailors with a famous nautical college - any citizen who is not at sea can easily feel bitter. Such is school master Isager, a sadistic sad man who after a day of physically and mentally punishing the kids has to go home so his "fat and psychopathic [wife] would thrash [him]". (Forgive me Roger Waters). "We, The Drowned" makes a vivid and lucid point how a commercially successful society (the town of Marstal) can live in peaceful avoidance of the fact that their prosperity comes at the expanse and misery of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people. The political & social commentary along with an ambitious story and vivid characters is a winning combination. The character of Albert Madsen, who returns from a voyage to find his missing father serves as the book's, and the town's, moral center. Albert mentors the young Knud Erik, the hero of the second half of the book. Much like life this is not a tidy book, the colorful stories which the author claims have a grain of truth in many of them, turn from tidy to wild with an uplifting and sobering message at the end. Much of the book explores the sense of community and the morality a small town vs. the closed universe of a ship vs. religion. All different but also have many things in common. This book is an adventure story, romance, coming of age, a tale of war, love and lost rolled into one. The novel is brilliant, funny and heartwarming told through fabulous writing which beg to be savored. The closing paragraphs are what tie the book together and are a masterpiece all by themselves. Great job by translators Charlotte Barslund and Emma Ryder - one of the best translated books I've ever read. Bottom line: I cannot say enough good things about this book.

posted by Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com on February 8, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

24 out of 33 people found this review helpful.

Typos and the sorry state of e-book editing

I'm on page 205 of We, the Drowned, and am disappointed with the number of typos encountered so far. In addition to missing words here and there, on almost every page there are superfluous letters and characters in the spaces between words. Like E this, or ' this.

...
I'm on page 205 of We, the Drowned, and am disappointed with the number of typos encountered so far. In addition to missing words here and there, on almost every page there are superfluous letters and characters in the spaces between words. Like E this, or ' this.

This is not trivial. I paid a premium price for this Nookbook and shouldn't have to stumble over typographical errors every page or two. What's keeping major publishers from proofreading books after the electronic reader conversion process? The price of a day's wages for a single copy editor? How much could that cost? A hundred bucks? Less than that?

No one would put up with errors like these in a hardcover or paperback book. We shouldn't put up with it in e-books, either. When I Google "typos in e-books" I get over 200,000 results with titles like "too many errors and typos in Kindle e-books," and "lousy proofreading in e-books." One member of a B&N Nookbook forum says he writes down every typo and formatting error he encounters, with the page numbers on which they occur, and sends them into the publisher. To date, he says, he's received no responses. Most of these complaints date back at least a year. It's a known issue, one the booksellers and publishers are certainly well aware of. Why hasn't it been fixed?

I wrote to Barnes & Noble today, asking them to credit my account for the $15.40 I paid for this e-book. I also asked them to use their considerable clout to persuade publishing houses to do a better job of editing the e-books they sell.

You should too.

posted by paulwoodford on March 21, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2011

    Not for the Impatient

    The story began at a different pace than it ended. It ran about 80 pages too long. I was disappointed in how it dragged near the end. I felt like I was sitting in an elderly seafarer's den, listening to his endless yarns... I would not recommend it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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