Memoir from Antproof Case

Memoir from Antproof Case

by Mark Helprin

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.

And all his life he waged a valiant, losing, one-man battle against the worlds 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.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Fiction
  • Rating: 3.99
  • Pages: 528
  • Publish Date: May 1st 1996 by Harper Perennial
  • Isbn10: 0380727331
  • Isbn13: 9780380727339

What People Think about "Memoir from Antproof Case"

In my experience the most exhausting kind of man can often be one who, on the one hand, prides himself on how sensitive he is to women and on the other is a control freak. Our hero in this book wages war on coffee. I wasn't sure at times if Helprin was joking. Thinking about it, all the women in his books are fairy story females.

I've read this book three times in the past ten years. Mark Helprin creates this experience, and it's hard to believe that something that takes so much time and subtlety in real life can be put to paper.

This quote is the reason why: "Though the world is constructed to serve glory, success and strength,one loves ones parents and ones children despite their failing and weaknessessometimes even more on account of them. With it, your heart, though broken,will be full, and you will stay in the fight unto the very last." I give this quote to my children, nieces and nephews, close friends offspring at their 18th birthday.

...the world is somewhat like a piece of paper: it can be folded only a fixed number of times, and then it refuses further adjustment. A gentleman with a strict aversion to coffee writes a memoir and keeps it in an antproof case (which happens to be the last surviving case in the world). The hinge of the story appears to be his intense hatred of the coffee bean and all that it has enslaved. Now this character is not easy to like. In a way, author Mark Helprin uses the 80-year memoir writer to take us through the entire 20th century as we see an America (and world) evolving from the values-based rural life to the no-holds-barred urban world.

Helprin knows how to speak for those of us who love language. You have that amazing, almost uncanny ability to be able to see the protagonist as a child at the end, and yet think back nostalgically to the man he became as presented at the beginning of the novel.

Helprin's language is evocative, rich and maybe a little bit self-indulgent: "I had never seen so many wildflowers jealously and proudly guarding their high posts in colors both bright and apoplectic." But for most of the book it works, both as poetic prose, and as a defining characteristic of the narrator. My only complaint, in fact, is when Helprin indulged in a bit of absurdism about 2/3 of the way through.

His novels are based on solid historical settings, but they are not exactly realistic, and Helprin intended them this way. Reading Helprin's novels purely as historical fiction will lead to disappointment. I would almost classify "Memoir" as a psychological novel because of the way that Helprin unfolds his characters. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a quirky historical or fantasy novel.

This book was gifted to me by a friend's father, and though it's taken me more than a year to finally get around to reading it, I deeply appreciate the gesture. This book was hovering between a good and great throughout the book, but I think the final sections are very strong and bring the rest of it together in a profound way.

This book has it all - a little of the tall tale, unreliable narrator, adventure, heartache, mystery - I could go on.

At first I was extremely annoyed by the narrator.