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Flea Circus: A Brief Bestiary of Grief

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Pascal’s Wager and performing fleas. The Haunted Mansion of Long Branch and an old dockside bar. Raceway Park and a pristine 1971 Plymouth Road Runner. A cat named Altamont. These are all that stand between a young mathematician and madness as she attempts to make sense of her lover’s suicide. Narrow margins, you say? Not much to place between a slip of a broken-hearted Je Pascal’s Wager and performing fleas. The Haunted Mansion of Long Branch and an old dockside bar. Raceway Park and a pristine 1971 Plymouth Road Runner. A cat named Altamont. These are all that stand between a young mathematician and madness as she attempts to make sense of her lover’s suicide. Narrow margins, you say? Not much to place between a slip of a broken-hearted Jersey Girl and the Abyss? Indeed, it is a treacherous twelve seconds on the quarter mile, hilarious and harrowing by turn. Blink and you’ll miss it.


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Pascal’s Wager and performing fleas. The Haunted Mansion of Long Branch and an old dockside bar. Raceway Park and a pristine 1971 Plymouth Road Runner. A cat named Altamont. These are all that stand between a young mathematician and madness as she attempts to make sense of her lover’s suicide. Narrow margins, you say? Not much to place between a slip of a broken-hearted Je Pascal’s Wager and performing fleas. The Haunted Mansion of Long Branch and an old dockside bar. Raceway Park and a pristine 1971 Plymouth Road Runner. A cat named Altamont. These are all that stand between a young mathematician and madness as she attempts to make sense of her lover’s suicide. Narrow margins, you say? Not much to place between a slip of a broken-hearted Jersey Girl and the Abyss? Indeed, it is a treacherous twelve seconds on the quarter mile, hilarious and harrowing by turn. Blink and you’ll miss it.

30 review for Flea Circus: A Brief Bestiary of Grief

  1. 4 out of 5

    George Jr.

    We can all be honest critics if we separate out our personal responses -- I did/didn't like something -- from our ability to honestly understand what a book tries to do and determine if it succeeds or fails at that. The best honest criticism means we can say that we didn't like something that worked just great, and liked something that wasn't that good. "Flea Circus" is not for everyone, because it has nothing at all to do with the vast, thin landscape of the contemporary novel that ranges from b We can all be honest critics if we separate out our personal responses -- I did/didn't like something -- from our ability to honestly understand what a book tries to do and determine if it succeeds or fails at that. The best honest criticism means we can say that we didn't like something that worked just great, and liked something that wasn't that good. "Flea Circus" is not for everyone, because it has nothing at all to do with the vast, thin landscape of the contemporary novel that ranges from books about interpersonal relationships to books about personal transformations. Contemporary novels are mostly very safe, have limited ambitions and have stepped back from all the possibilities that Romantic fiction opened up in the early 19th century. "Flea Circus" stands out from this crowd, far out. Keifetz clothes an intensely Romantic core -- this is a novel about what happens inside a person -- with a prose style that is pellucid, lapidary and keeps a screaming hit just at a safe distance from the reader. It's easy, and often very funny, to read, and also difficult to take just what is happening. And that's the point. This is an ambitious and uncompromising novel. It is honest with itself and makes itself clear to the reader, but it is not easy in any way, nor is it meant to be. So not everyone will like it, because not everyone wants their ideas about what fiction can be challenged. But it is a brilliant book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Katya Epstein

    For the past year or two I have found it almost impossible to get more than halfway through a book, but I reread this in two sittings; it still ranks as one of my top three favourite books. Delightfully structured, perfectly paced: It launches you gently but irrevocably toward the hurtling finish. Funny and dark. But the main thing is: Mandy gets it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Katharine Holden

    If you can get past the narrator inserting the cremains of her boyfriend in her vagina, this book is a compelling read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    ☕Katie

    Sadly, this is another book I would have put down after 20 pages if it wasn't my book club's pick this month. You're thrown into this story of the narrator's boyfriend's suicide and it's making her lose her fucking mind. But it doesn't really have character development or any explanations. It is a snippet story and not my preferred way of reading. I like the whole story laid out and more complete. I agree that I'm not sure why this got rave reviews. So do the academy award winners and those mostl Sadly, this is another book I would have put down after 20 pages if it wasn't my book club's pick this month. You're thrown into this story of the narrator's boyfriend's suicide and it's making her lose her fucking mind. But it doesn't really have character development or any explanations. It is a snippet story and not my preferred way of reading. I like the whole story laid out and more complete. I agree that I'm not sure why this got rave reviews. So do the academy award winners and those mostly suck too. Guess I should stop trying to be so trendy...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lolly K Dandeneau

    Here I go again, disliking a book with mad reviews. Truthfully, it made me tired. I can't decide if I just didn't like the writing style or the story itself. I half wanted her to die already from her grief. I normally can eat up a novel that rambles on and on if I enjoy what is being said, or I find it poetic but this novel almost mad ME crazy. The title was so fantastic, it held so much promise and little moments in the book were intense but as a whole, it made me irritated and tired. It made m Here I go again, disliking a book with mad reviews. Truthfully, it made me tired. I can't decide if I just didn't like the writing style or the story itself. I half wanted her to die already from her grief. I normally can eat up a novel that rambles on and on if I enjoy what is being said, or I find it poetic but this novel almost mad ME crazy. The title was so fantastic, it held so much promise and little moments in the book were intense but as a whole, it made me irritated and tired. It made me feel like a grief counselor, but could be with the title that's exactly the effect the author was going for...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn

    This was one of those books I picked up because the title made it sound interesting. I like to read about circuses and well, I've never read about a flea circus so it seemed like a good choice. Not so much--it was depressing and the main character was very self-absorbed. This was one of those books I picked up because the title made it sound interesting. I like to read about circuses and well, I've never read about a flea circus so it seemed like a good choice. Not so much--it was depressing and the main character was very self-absorbed.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Monica

    I saw this at my job and decided to give it a go. After about four chapter I wanted the women to die. I had no attachment to her or the book or any of the other characters. Wait, I tell I lie. I liked Altamont.

  8. 4 out of 5

    linnea

    I loved this book!! That about sums it up

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne Martinet

    This book is simply brilliant. And I don't mean that the way the Brits do when they say something is "brilliant." This is a writer to watch, folks. Keifetz is an artist. This book is simply brilliant. And I don't mean that the way the Brits do when they say something is "brilliant." This is a writer to watch, folks. Keifetz is an artist.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Kennedy

  11. 5 out of 5

    Chris Ritchie

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carla Dash

  13. 5 out of 5

    Maria

  14. 5 out of 5

    Burke Burke

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chris Anthes

  16. 5 out of 5

    Pauline

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

  18. 5 out of 5

    Verbiwhore

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marianne Chrisos

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mia

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dana Town

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tallis Aalryn

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany Westlund

  25. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joe

  27. 5 out of 5

    Keith

  28. 4 out of 5

    Meggan

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sara

  30. 5 out of 5

    laura b.

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