Banana Rose

( 2 )

Overview

The bestselling novel from the beloved author of Writing Down the Bones, Wild Mind, and Long Quiet Highway is now available in paperback for the first time.  With a half-million copies in print of her three remarkable books of nonfiction, Natalie Goldberg has inspired a generation of writers with her insight, humor, and empathy.  Subtly hilarious and achingly raw, her first novel Banana Rose has rewarded her devoted fans while attracting a whole new ...

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Banana Rose: A Novel

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Overview

The bestselling novel from the beloved author of Writing Down the Bones, Wild Mind, and Long Quiet Highway is now available in paperback for the first time.  With a half-million copies in print of her three remarkable books of nonfiction, Natalie Goldberg has inspired a generation of writers with her insight, humor, and empathy.  Subtly hilarious and achingly raw, her first novel Banana Rose has rewarded her devoted fans while attracting a whole new readership to her work.

Banana Rose is the story of Nell Schwartz, a Brooklyn-born Jewish girl who moves to the Taos of communes and sweet cedar smoke, transforms herself into Banana Rose (because she's "bananas"), falls in love with a horn player named Gauguin, and believes they can stop time if they just love hard enough.  It's also about Nell and Anna, a strange-eyed writer as lonely as the Nebraska farm where she grew up, whose kisses taste like raspberries and who teaches Nell what it means to be an artist.  But most of all, Banana Rose is about Nell's struggle with her own wild heart, with the demands of canvas and paint, with her family and faith, and with her irrepressible longing for home.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Banana Rose is one book you won't put down 'til the end."—Rocky Mountain News

"Banana Rose explodes with wit and vision."—Indianapolis News

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
That the art of writing has many facets, some slippery, is demonstrated by this first novel from writing guru Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones), which turns out to be a rambling, rather indulgent memoir of marriage and friendship in an age of post-hippie adjustment. ``I thought the hippie years would last forever,'' reflects Nell Schwartz from Brooklyn, aka ``Banana Rose,'' who's living in a Taos commune, painting the awesome New Mexico landscape, when a sexy red-haired musician known as ``Gauguin'' blows into Taos with his brass saxophone. Soon ardent lovers, Nell and Gauguin depart for life in cities (including New York and its Jewish deli delights). But passion cools with marriage, ridiculous in-laws and the prospect of daily reality in ``Minneapolis, for good.'' Gauguin turns unconvincingly bossy and square, annoyed by Nell's caf art show, her carefree ``women's libber'' ways and her Jewishness, which she fiercely protects amid the alien Midwestern corn. For solace, Nell turns to Anna Gates, whose mountaintop funeral opens and closes the novel as a frame and comment on the Gauguin/Nell relationship. In life, Anna was willowy and fair, a writer of guileless little sketches and ``a six-foot-one-inch lesbian'' whom Nell had tenderly loved but slept with only once. Finally, Nell's painful losses spur her to redemptive literary activity. Sentence by sentence, Goldberg's writing is, not surprisingly, sensitive and quick, but her plot meanders like a sleepy bee, settling down now and then for a scene as sweet as nectar but too often simply buzzing around in the air. Major ad/promo; author tour. (Mar.)
Library Journal
In this tedious coming-of-age story, 29-year-old Nell, transplanted from New York to a Taos commune, takes the name Banana Rose, fancies herself a painter, and falls for an itinerant musician named Gauguin. She leaves her beloved Southwest to marry him in Minnesota. Things predictably fall apart, and Nell returns full circle to Taos. The central character's self-absorption does not make for a correspondingly absorbing narrative. Even with the pivotal Nell, no apparent focus forms from day-to-day occurrences that are itemized in monotonous detail. Too much of the novel reads like a dull adolescent's diary. If the characters were as interesting as their names, the reader might care what happens to them. Although this is Goldberg's first novel, she has-amazingly, given the quality of Banana Rose-written two nonfiction guides to writing (e.g., Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life, LJ 10/1/90). Not recommended.-Sheila Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553375138
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/28/1997
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.51 (w) x 8.28 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2006

    Disappointing

    I loved 'Writing Down the Bones' and 'Wild Mind', but it appears that although Natalie Goldberg can write books about how to write novels, she can't actually write novels herself. 'Banana Rose' was just obnoxious. The heroine was completely unlikeable and every freaking scene revolved around eating. (Things would literally jump from a dinner table to a candy bar to a breakfast brunch...etc.) The whole story was just pointless. Stay away from this book if you want to keep respecting Natalie Goldberg. Her nonfiction rocks, but this novel was appalling.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2001

    A compelling novel for any creator.

    I have been quite the Natalie Goldberg fan. I have devoured anything she has written. I am writing this review, and I am only half through with the novel. I think it is excellent. I can't wait to see what happens next. I love the short chapters....because before you know it, after saying...ok, just one more chapter, you've read half the book. I just read the reviews from the quote unquote literary magazines, or whatever, and....hello....if they only had a clue. They gave the book one star. Wow. I guess these people don't have a clue. They have never experienced the uncertainty of creation....of being a writer...of being a painter. It's an ambiguous thing...and it's quite compelling to read Banana Rose and the way she came through it all. I love this story so far, and quite honestly, I've begun painting again...which has cracked open my wild writing mind. A must read for anyone creative. Ok....so that means..any kind of formal reviewers don't have a clue as to what this book means!! Cheers to my fellow creators!

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