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Seven Years

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Alex has spent the majority of his adult life between two very different women--and he can't make up his mind. Sonia, his wife and business partner, is everything a man would want. Intelligent, gorgeous, charming, and ambitious, she worked tirelessly alongside him to open their architecture firm and to build a life of luxury. But when the seven-year itch sets in, their exhaustion at working long hours coupled with their failed attempts at starting a family get the best of them. Alex soon finds himself kindling an affair with his college lover, Ivona. The young Polish woman who worked in a Catholic mission is the polar opposite of Sonia: dull, passive, taciturn, and plain. Despite having little in common with Ivona, Alex is inexplicably drawn to her while despising himself for it. Torn between his highbrow marriage and his lowbrow affair, Alex is stuck within a spiraling threesome. But when Ivona becomes pregnant, life takes an unexpected turn, and Alex is puzzled more than ever by the mysteries of his heart.
Peter Stamm, one of Switzerland's most acclaimed writers, is at his best exploring the complexities of human relationships. Seven Years is a distinct, sobering, and bold novel about the impositions of happiness in the quest for love.

264 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2009

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About the author

Peter Stamm

53 books322 followers
Peter Stamm grew up in Weinfelden in the canton of Thurgau the son of an accountant. After completing primary and secondary school he spent three years as an apprentice accountant and then 5 as an accountant. He then chose to go back to school at the University of Zurich taking courses in a variety of fields including English studies, Business informatics, Psychology, and Psychopathology. During this time he also worked as an intern at a psychiatric clinic. After living for a time in New York, Paris, and Scandinavia he settled down in 1990 as a writer and freelance journalist in Zurich. He wrote articles for, among others, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the Tages-Anzeiger, Die Weltwoche, and the satirical newspaper Nebelspalter. Since 1997 he has belonged to the editorial staff of the quarterly literary magazine "Entwürfe für Literatur." He lives in Winterthur.

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5 stars
272 (16%)
4 stars
568 (34%)
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567 (34%)
2 stars
174 (10%)
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68 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 199 reviews
Profile Image for Warwick.
841 reviews14.6k followers
July 23, 2014

Well this is one of those novels that just makes me wonder if professional reviewers are completely fucking high – or if we even read the same book.

I thought the plot was tedious and oppressive, the characters deeply unlikeable, and the prose stylistically barren. I am giving it two stars because most of this is deliberate and therefore competently done – Stamm is apparently one of those writers who thinks that the best way to reflect the disorientation of the modern world is to write books that hold everything at arm's length and relate all narrative in the same dull monotone. (He reminds me a little of Michel Houellebecq, although the papers prefer to make unwise comparisons with Camus.) Dialogue is stripped of quote marks and bunched together in single paragraphs for extra literary cred:

I asked her if she didn't want to call ahead to set up interviews, but she shook her head. The best thing was just to drop by, once people saw you they had more trouble saying no to you. You mean your beauty will win them over? She looked at me furiously. That's mean, I can't help the way I look. I said it could be worse, and laid my hands on her shoulders and pulled her against me, and now she hugged me and kissed me properly. She asked if I'd slept well. I said, I dreamed about you. That's not true, admit it.

End paragraph. Anthony Cummins of the Observer thinks this is a good way of ‘keeping us on our toes’. Well I'm as en pointe as the next reader, but the issue is not that it's confusing, it's that it's irritating and it makes everything tonally flat.

It is possible to write about the cold, dead detachment of modern life in an engaging way – JG Ballard does it, but that's because he writes sentences full of compressed wit and unusual simile. Stamm's prose is described by fans as being ‘sparse’ or ‘economical’ or ‘cool’ but the reality is that it's just extremely boring. The New Statesman actually quotes the following as an example of his flair for ‘the apparently innocent descriptive sentence that comes saturated in mental atmosphere’:

Sometimes, when Sonia was in bed already, I would go for a walk down to the Academy, and sit by the shore and think about my life, and how it could have been different.

Really? That's a sentence we should be admiring? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME. Sometimes, when Sonia was in bed already, I would go for a walk down to the Academy, and sit by the shore and think about my life, and how it could have been different. I don't even know how to argue with someone who puts this forward as an example of great writing. My two-year-old daughter's analysis of Frozen is more profound than this plodding description of one moron's trivial mid-life crisis.

The whole plot is in fact staggeringly banal: a man is married to a gorgeous but inhibited woman and he has an affair with an ‘ugly’ Polish immigrant because he can. This is ‘far from being merely another novelistic account of an affair’, according to Toby Litt in the Guardian – ‘what helps it transcend this is one of the great characters of contemporary fiction’, namely Ivona, the Polish Other Woman.

I mean…what. The mind boggles. Ivona is the opposite of a great character of contemporary fiction. A useless character of historical biography, perhaps. She says about three words in the entire novel, and is characterised wholly by her unmotivated and implausible adoration of our protagonist. She is a symbol of lower-class pathos with no personality of her own.

Once again I found Michael Hofmann's translation just okay, with a few clunky moments. Hilariously, Sarah Fay in the New York Times writes about Hofmann's ‘conscientious translations, which even maintain the comma splices that occur regularly in German but appear as grammatical errors in English’ – but because she has already decided this is a work of near-genius, she concludes that this stylistic mis-step must be ‘a device that serves to illustrate the frailty of the characters’ perceptions’. Bullshit. And if it were true, it would still be a mistake, since by her own argument it's an effect not present in the original.

I am sick to death of these writers who think stylelessness is an acceptable style, and of these coolly distant novels that think emotional detachment is the best way to explain emotional detachment. And I didn't even get around to mentioning the laboured architectural metaphors…actually you know what, fuck it, I'm downgrading this to one star. Enough.
Profile Image for Araz Goran.
824 reviews3,617 followers
July 1, 2018
لم يكن العنوان موفقاً بالمرة ،لم يكن للسبع سنوات أي تأثير على مجريات الرواية بشكل عام..

الرواية تحكي عن صراع داخلي مرير يواجهه رجل في علاقته مع إمرأتين ،صراع عنيف يحول حياة الرجل إلى مأساة حقيقة يعيش فيها كالمشرد والتائه ويبحث عن مخرج دائم ليعود إلى حالته الطبيعية ، الرواية خالية من التشويق ، مجرد سرد لحياة الرجل بأزمنة متقطعة وتنقل بين أحداث الحاضر والماضي وإن كانت تحكى بواقعية ومشاعر صريحة خالية من التزييف والتلفيق، شعرت بالفعل أنها مشاعر صادقة ونقية جداً بالرغم من عدم تقبلي لفكرة الرواية ولكن جذبني كقارئ شيء من الانسانية المتأصلة في حياة الرجل ومواقفه وإعترافاته الصريحة الملئية أحياناً بالتناقض وأحياناً بنوع من الوعي بالذات والواقع،ذلك الذي لا نجده في الإنسان الشرقي عموماً، نجد كيف كيف أنه يعترف بعدم إلتزامه بالمسؤولية الأخلاقية وفشله الذريع في التخلص من عقدته التي حولت حياته وحياة أسرته إلى مستنقع من التخبط والفشل الروحي والمعنوي ..

حيرني التقييم كثيراً، الرواية فيها جوانب سيئة جداً فعلاً ولكن هناك بعض المواقف والإنطباعات وطبيعة حياة الرجل، تجعل من الرواية تستحق القراءة والوقوف عندها طويلاً ..
Profile Image for ·Karen·.
617 reviews767 followers
October 19, 2013
Accessible, seductive, sober, a style that is as direct and clean as a knife. There is a hint of layering and depth through references to Le Corbusier and Aldo Rossi, but these fizzle out and turn into little more than local colour, the protagonists have to make a living after all, and the boom and bust cycle in the building industry is a handy complication.
But will German speaking culture ever manage to shake off the fascination of dichotomies? Either or. Science or mysticism. Dionysus or Apollo. Black or white. Mind or body.
So, Alex has two women. The one he married is intellectual and prim, Kopfmensch, the one he doesn't is sensual and doglike in her loyalty. Clearly neither relationship can work, who'd have thought. Hard to have the whole deal with half a woman. Try again, Alex.
Profile Image for Banu Yıldıran Genç.
Author 1 book778 followers
February 22, 2021
çok adını duyduğum bir romandı ama beklentim fazla yüksekmiş sanırım :) alex’in bencilliği ve kendini haklı çıkarma çabaları üzerine bir roman olmuş sanki. soğuk alman kadını klişesi de höfff dedirtiyor ama yine de yazar alex’i okura tamamen açıyor, kadın karakterler tarafından doğru bir biçimde eleştirtiyor. son dönemde okuduğum “bağlar” çok daha gizli bir erkek romanıydı mesela.
onun dışında duvarın yıkılması, avroya geçilmesi romanın güzel bir biçimde parçası olmuş.
çeviriyi çok beğendim bu arada.

* üç ayrı romana değinerek erkekliğe dair bir yazı yazmıştım oggito'da. romanlardan biri de bu.
Profile Image for Aslıhan Çelik Tufan.
646 reviews168 followers
August 5, 2018
Gerçekten tam olarak kitaba karşı hissiyatımdan emin değilim. Çok merak ettirip çok koştur koştur okutuyor kendini. Çok düşündürüyor.

Aslında hayatımız seçimlerimizden ibaret dedirtiyor ama şahsen Alex’ i hayatımda tanımış onla bi bira içmiş olsam bi tokat çakıp arkadaşım kendine gel bi kararlarının arkasında dur derim!

Dilindeki tutukluğu açıkçası üzülerek çeviriye bağlıyorum.

Ana öykü dışında AB, Berlin duvarı yıkımına dek değinmesini çok sevdim amma velakin ana üç karakterden birinin Polonyalı olması üzerinden Alman günah çıkarmasını daha çok bekler ve hatta memnun olurdum o noktada kaçak dövüşülmüş bence. Tabii ben yazardan başka eser okumadım belki daha önce değinmiştir başka bi kitabında bilemem.

Yaz günlerinde ağır gelmez hikaye karakter ve işleniş yerinde, tavsiye ediyorum.
451 reviews2,995 followers
March 12, 2013

تدور هذه الرواية على لسان الشخصية الرئيسية وهو طالب في فن العمارة يتزوج من صديقة له تدرس معه سونيا مثال للفتاة الكاملة التي يحلم بها الرجال .. إيفونا تدخل على الخط وهي فتاة يتعرف عليها أليكس في مغامرة مشاغبة مع مجموعة من رفاقه فتصبح كلصقة على الجرح ..

إيفونا بولندية مهاجرة غير شرعية قبيحة كما يصفها الكاتب (وإن كان قد عدل عن ذلك في بعض المقاطع ) لا تملك أي سمة من سمات الجمال شخص يكاد يكون غير مرئي وهي بذلك تشكل النقيض من زوجته الفوضى التي تعيشها إيفونا المنساقة بلاأي حد تجاه إليكس تذكره بطفولته وحياته السابقة .. خضوعها له بلا أي شرط ولا قيد ولا تطلب يجعل أليكس يدخل معها في علاقة غريبة الشكل محورها الجنس و الإحساس بالسلطة والرجولة والتفوق خاصة وهو يعيش في ظل نجاح زوجته وصعودها ليختبر مشاعر متضاربة في الوقت الذي تبذل سونيا الزوجة جهدها لتأسيس شركة التصاميم المعمارية ..وهكذا فالرواية هي قصة لمثلث الزوج ، الزوجة والعشيقة
أحداث الرواية تدور في أوساط طبقة برجوازية تسود بها لغة التصاميم والمعمار والهندسة ويتضح أن الكاتب بذل جهدا للخوض في هذه الأمور كما إن رفيقة سونيا فنانة تشكيلة و الأمر لا شك يتطلب ثقافة فنية من الكاتب وهذا ما نجح فيه بيتر شتام إلا إن أهمية الرواية في إإظهارها للجانب المظلم في علاقات الحب والزواج إن جاز تسمية تلك العلاقة الغريبة بالحب .. سونيا الجميلة الذكية المثقفة المصممة الناجحة تمثل جانب الأمن في حياة ألكيس بينما إيفونا القبيحة العاملة في مكتبة جامدة سلبية تتقن الصمت لكنها تهب جسدها لألكسندر وتتبعه بكل خضوع .. نموذج للرغبات المتناقضة
كتبت الرواية بشكل جيد ربما لن تشعر بالملل لكن أيضا لم أشعر بالحميمية تجاه الشخصيات ربما هي أجواء وبيئة النص لا أدري !
غير أن شخصية إيفونا البولندية شخصية مثيرة ومستفزة للفضول ، الأهم إنك من خلال الرواية تستطيع أن تستشعر الفارق الطبقي بين بيئة هؤلاء أهل البلد وبين هؤلاء المهاجرين و النظرة الفوقية والترفع وطريقة تعامل إليكس مع إيفونا تظهر شيء من ذلك ربما ولا أدري إن كان الكاتب قصد أن يظهر هذا الأمر في الرواية أم إنه ظهر هكذا وحسب كقارىء وجدت الأمر ظاهر ولا يمكن تجاهله ..

تستحق القراءة

Profile Image for Vladys Kovsky.
120 reviews28 followers
September 4, 2020
The book is written in a spare, minimalist style similar to other books by Peter Stamm. Despite the stylistic simplicity the language is painstakingly precise and some scenes come to light with an almost cinematic quality. You do not need a movie based on this book, once you read it, you have seen the movie in your head.

While "Seven Years" may appear simple, the characters unlikable, and the plot uninspiring, the book amounts to a lot more than this superficial perception would allow. As good literature should, the book asks big questions and does not provide easy answers.

Without giving too much away, I will just mention some of the issues raised in the book and let you discover the other ones.

Is there too much emphasis on professional ambition in the modern western world? Is it a worthy goal to achieve success and living standards desired by and expected from people in certain social strata? Is the feeling of superiority many successful people enjoy justified or is it just a veneer layer below which a common human ugliness prevails? Is the concept of a modern family as a presentable partnership, a successful enterprise created and maintained for the sake of convenience sustainable? Will the underlying suppressed passions and desires rear their ugly heads at some point or other?

What I found most striking in the book, where all people are fundamentally flawed, questionable with respect to their morals, lacking from the point of view of basic decency, is that in some actions or thoughts of these characters the readers recognize themselves. This is where the author aims and, when our defenses are down, when our armor is off, hits the bull's eye.
Profile Image for Hux.
151 reviews27 followers
August 16, 2023
This is a tricky (more nuanced) review to write. Because on the one hand, I thought the writing was very basic and forgettable, dry and matter-of-fact, with very little in the way of creative or imaginative prose. The language is sparse, to-the-point and, truth be told, of little literary significance. That being said, it's immensely easy to read and goes along at a pace. I enjoyed reading the book (especially the middle section) a great deal.

But what really got me was the book's exploration of the existential trauma of love. This really fascinated me. The story is a straight forward one about a student (Alex) who has a casual one night stand with a stranger, a slightly dull Polish girl called Ivona. Meanwhile he develops a serious relationship with Sonia (she being among his architect student friends). As the novel progresses, his relationship with Sonia intensifies until marriage inevitably comes along. But he continues, almost against his will, to keep seeing Ivona. He doesn't entirely understand why. Sonia is beautiful and clever, middle-class, has a wonderful future ahead of her. Ivona, by contrast, is not physically attractive, an uneducated immigrant, poor, and not very interesting, she is devoutly religious and lacks opinions on most subjects.

The book goes from being a rather bland love triangle into something far more existential. Sonia is a good match, who he should be with, the perfect woman. But she doesn't need him. She doesn't crave him. Her love has conditions. Ivona, on the other hand, is almost a slave, utterly captivated by Alex and accepts him in totality as her spiritual husband. She will not disagree with him, she will not resist him (especially when he wants sex), and she will always be on his side, unconditionally. Alex tries to grasp the pull she has on him but can't quite do it. There are some people that want us but there are others who need, crave, and live for us. Sometimes two human beings simply connect in a way that burrows deep into the soul. Sometimes, it is inexplicable.

It would tempting to dismiss this book as yet another insight into the bored lives of middle-class people (and yes, there is a lot of that), but for me the narrator (Alex) is not the point. Neither is Sonia, nor their daughter Sophie, nor their aunt Antje. This book is about Ivona. She is something quite remarkable.
Profile Image for Ludmilla.
356 reviews184 followers
August 11, 2018
Neresi dahice, yine anlayamadığım bir kitap. Anlatım tekdüze, konu tekdüze, orijinallik, yok, sarsıcılık yok, bir felsefesi falan da yok. Nebula'nın çıkardığı kitaplara uzun bir ara...
Profile Image for Siv30.
2,380 reviews125 followers
August 26, 2016
וואו, אהבתי מאוד את הספר הזה. הוא בנוי לקריאה בנשימה אחת והוא אכן נקרא כך במשך שלוש שעות בהן הייתי מרותקת לפרופיל הזוגי והפסיכולוגי שמצייר הסופר.

אחרי התחלה מקרטעת של מספר עמודים בהן אין אוריינטציה, הסופר זורק את הקורא למערכת יחסים סבוכה בין אלכסנדר, סוניה ואיבונה.

מהצד, על תקן הפסיכולוג הציב הסופר את החברה האמנית הצרפתיה של סוניה שהגיעה ממרסי למינכן לתערוכה של הציורים שלה.

לכן, רוב הספר הוא מונולוג אחד ארוך ושופע של אלכסנדר המספר על חייו עם סוניה וסופי בתם. סיפור טריוויאלי במובנים רבים של עבודה, שחיקה בחיי הזוגיות, צפיות, אכזבות, הצלחות וכשלונות עסקיים.

אבל מתחת לפני השטח רוחש משהו אפל שמערער את היסודות הבנאליים והופך את הסיפור למרתק בעיניי.

סוניה ואלכסנדר נפגשו באוניברסיטה. שניהם למדו אדריכלות והשתייכו לאותה החבורה. הם היו ידידים. סוניה היפיפיה בת למשפחת עשירים כבר הספיקה לצאת עם אחד מהחברה ואלכסנדר למרות שחש משיכה אליה לא חווה התאהבות סוערת כשהיה בחברתה. היא גם נתנה לו הרגשה תמיד שהוא לא מספיק בשבילה.

יום אחד פוגש אלכסנדר את איבונה, מהגרת פולניה בלתי חוקית שעובדת בחנות ספרים בכנסיה. איבונה הכנועה הולכת אחרי אלכסנדר כצל והכניעות הזו שלה שובה את ליבו של אלכסנדר שמפתח אובססיה שתלטנית בעלתנית כלפיה שנמשכת שנים ומטילה על כולם תוצאות מרירות.

במקביל, אלכסנדר שאינו יכול להראות עם המהגרת הפולניה בחברה, היא מביישת אותו במראה שלה, בדיבור שלה, בכניעות שלה, מפתח עם סוניה המושלמת יחסים שהם מעבר לידידות, היחסים מתפתחים גם בזכות אנטיה החברה ממרסיי אותה הם מבקרים.

אבל מסתבר שסוניה היא לא האישה המושלמת. היא מלכת הקרח, והיא קרירה או עצורה במיטה, היא לא מספקת לאלכסנדר את הצרכים שלו במיטה ולמרות שהכל כל כך יפה מבחוץ, מבפנים הזוגיות ואחר כך הנישואים שלהם רקובים. סוניה ואלכסנדר הן שתי סירות מתרחקות בתוך זוגיות ונישואים שיגרתיים.

לכך יש להוסיף את העובדה שסוניה לא מצליחה להרות והסקס המכאני דוחף את אלכנסדר עוד יותר רחוק מסוניה שהופכת עצבנית, מלנכולית וחסרת קשב.

ואז אחרי 7 שנים אלכסנדר חוזר להיפגש עם איבונה והיא כאילו כלום לא קרה ורק רגע חלף, ממתינה לו.

מדובר בספר שעוצמתו טמונה דווקא בבנאלי והמוכר. דווקא טמונה במונולוג שלעיתים מקבל הבזקים של תובנות מהתערבויות מכוונות ומתוזמרות היטב של דמויות אחרות שהן לכאורה שוליות. הטכניקה של הכתיבה גאונית ולמעט מספר עמודים מצומצם באפיזודה שמתארת את ההתפרקות הכלכלית והנפשית של המספר לא מצאתי מילה מיותרת והספר מהודק היטב.

לאחר שלקורא נדמה שהנה הגיע השיא של הספר, מגיע עוד שיא הרבה יותר משמעותי וגם בסופו של השיא הזה מגיעה אדווה קטנה ומטלטלת.

175 reviews3 followers
February 4, 2012
I think this was the easiest prose I've ever read in a book that was simultaneously pretty deep. I read it because a reviewer compared the author's work to Camus. Which was foolish, no one touches Camus. But it was a good book, an easy book in many ways and the characters were unusually credible. This is especially notable as they represent sorts of extremes in behavior (the mistress incapable of refusing, the wife orchestrating every aspect of her life, the husband claiming no responsibility or often even awareness of what he was doing, etc.). They might have been grotesques but for how totally fleshed out they were. I don't usually love "subtlety" in writing, and Stamm's was nothing but; however, it was basically flawless in the end. The story was a parable about doing what you want and not ignoring red flags in your life that are telling you you're doing what someone else wants. Again, easy but not shallow.
Profile Image for César Carranza.
284 reviews56 followers
September 10, 2017
El libro es bueno, se lee muy rápido, es la historia de un par de arquitectos, desde como se conocen a como es que forman un hogar, es la historia de como inician siendo amigos y parece que deberían de estar juntos, pero el autor nos deja ver que falta algo en la relación, el vacío en cada uno termina compartido y los aleja desde el principio, y como menciona alguno de los personajes dentro (un francés en un bar) las personas no son malas, pero a veces pierden la luz...
Profile Image for Melek .
327 reviews13 followers
August 13, 2020
Bir erkek ve onun hayatındaki iki kadın özelinde ilerleyen 20 yıllık bir öykü. İki kadın da birbirinden çok farklı. Sonja, güzel, akıllı, geleceği parlak ve zengin bir aileden. Iwona ise, sıradan, dikkat çekmeyen, fakir ve idealleri olmayan biri. Ve bu iki kadın üzerinden modern dünyanın bizden beklediklerine; zenginlik, gösteriş, aşk, seks, ün, mevkiye; karşılık sıradanlık, olduğu gibi olma, göçmenlik ve fakirlik kavramlarının bir adamın hayat yolculuğundaki etkisini anlatan bir roman.

Kim daha mutlu, Sonja mı Iwona mı? Aşk gerçekten var mı? Sıradan olanlar mutluluğu biliyor mu? Aslında neye ihtiyacımız var ve biz neleri tercih ediyoruz hayat yolculuğumuzda? Seçtiğimiz yol bizi mutlu ve özgür kılacak mı?

Kitabın değindiği noktalar romantik ilişkilerdeki kalıp yargılarımızı, inanışlarımızı, doğrularımızı ve yanlışlarımızı sorgulatıyor. İlişkide neye ihtiyacımız var, biz neler istiyoruz? İhtiyaç ve isteğimiz eşleşmediğinde 'bana neler oluyor' u anlatan güzel bir hikayeydi.
Profile Image for Huy.
769 reviews
November 20, 2019
Đọc cuốn này cảm giác rất là khó chịu, vì hãy nhìn Alex, một chàng kiến trúc sư, giàu có, đẹp trai, có vợ đẹp, con xinh và sống ở một trong những đất nước hạnh phúc nhất thế giới (Thụy Sĩ) thế nhưng lại có một cuộc đời bất hạnh và trống rỗng đến đáng thương, và Peter Stamm không ngại ngùng lùng sục phơi bày cái cuộc đời ấy ra cho chúng ta, mà đôi lúc ta cảm thấy bực mình bởi cái sự chi tiết đến độ làm ta bải hoải, khi mà ông miêu tả cuộc đời của Alex với những chuỗi ngày dài không nhìn thấy được đâu là mục đích hay tình yêu đích thực của cuộc đời, với những chuyến đi, những giấc ngủ, những ngày tháng nối tiếp nhau chán chường đến mức khiến ta mệt mỏi.
Và Ivona hay Sonia, thật sự thì Alex chẳng yêu ai cả, cái anh ta yêu chỉ là cảm xúc của sự phục tùng (Ivona) hay cảm giác chắc chắn của một mái ấm (Sonia) mà thôi.
Profile Image for Konserve Ruhlar.
263 reviews155 followers
November 17, 2018
Son zamanlarda okuduğum vasat kitaplar arasına alıyorum Yedi Yıl'ı. Elbette Alex'in bir Howard Roark olmasını beklememiştim ama bu kadar da sıradan ve tatsız bir karakter olmasından hoşlanmadım. Anlatım çok sıkıcı. Aynı tonda sürekli tekrar eden bir melodi düşünün. Hiçbir ahenk yok kitabın müziğinde. Duygu yok. Karakterlerin hiçbir derinliği yok. Elbette karakterler derin olsun diye bir zorunluluk yok ama okur olarak onları tanıyamamak ve anlayamamak romanı eksik bırakıyor bence. Çeviri bence kitabın bütününün önünde. Gayet akıcı ve temiz bir çeviri.

Aslında kitabın vasat kapağı kendini ele veriyordu :))
Profile Image for Catherine.
18 reviews3 followers
September 11, 2012
I enjoyed this book very much, although, unlike, say, "Almondis", I was quite relieved to leave the world that had been created in the book when I finished the last page, as it was very oppressive and, at times, very uncomfortable to read. However, I think that this was certainly one of Stamm's aims when he wrote it.

This was a very literary novel - much more so than some of the others that I have read - and I really enjoyed exploring the themes and philosophies that were clearly entwined in the narrative; it made me feel like a literature undergrad again (but without the hangover and dodgy velvet waiscoats). At no point, however, did I feel that the book was overly self-conscious or pompous in its exploration of these things - in particular Absurdism and Existentialism - but that Stamm was able to breathe new life into these philosophies and relate them to a more modern context. I also loved the sparse, at times terse, narrative. Again, this didn't seems contrived, as it often did in the owl book (sorry, chemo taking its toll on the memory as well as the hair!), nor was it overly poetic i.e. verbose - but there was a definite poetry to the narrative, which hugely complemented the themes of the book and was a pleasure to read - Stamm really is a masterly writer.

So...themes and stuff. Apologies if all this sounds a bit much but I really got into thinking about the themes in this book and making links between different parts of the novel and stuff that I vaguely remembered about literary theory at college - I had to take refuge in wikepedia on many an ocassion in order to fully remember and/or understand some of the things theory but it was great fun.

The first thing I noticed about this book was that the narration reminded me very much of Albert Camus' existentialist / Absurdist novel "L'Etranger" of "The Outsider" as it's called in translation. If you haven't read this book, I would highly recommend it. Then on the back of "Seven Years" I noticed a review for one of his other novels which said "If Albert Camus had lived in an age when people in remote Norwegian fishing villages had email, he might have written a novel like this" - which is one of the best one line review I've ever read!

I think that in this book, Stamm is revising Absurdism and Existentialism and setting the philosophy in a modern context. Camus was one of the founders of Absurdism and then also used Existentialism as a way of looking at life, the maning of life, and how this related to human relationships. Absurdism is "the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and the human inability to find any" and Existentialism states that "the starting point of philosophical thinking must be the experiences of the individual" and that "authenticity" is the key to this - which means being true to one's own personality, spirit or character. Both of these movements sprang up in France after the Second World War, mainly as a reaction to the horros of the war and the devastation it had caused. I don't think it's any coincidence that the book is set partly in Marseille and that Sonia's mentor is called Albert.

I think that all of the characters in the book - apart from, crucially, Ivona and perhaps Antje - are suffering from the Absurdist conflict. When they are on the awful "minibreak" that culminates in him telling Sonia about Ivona's pregnancy, Alex says "They all seemed to be playing a game, and observing themselves and one another". There are many references in the novel to the middl class, "beautiful people" seeming to be tense, at odds with themsleves and "playing" at social conventions. There are always name cards and a protocol to be followed when at the lakeside houses and when the young people meet after graduation, Alex observes that they are playing at being adults. HE seems to be the only character who can see this - he completely understands the Absurdist tension, and as such he behaves in what seems to be a morally despicable way. Antj says "You behave like a swine, and then you blame your inner beast". Parts of thi novel are very uncomfortable to read i.e. when he makes Ivona go to the toilet in front of him, when he seems to rape her, despite her obvious distress, when he leaves his littel girl in the house on her own, and yet he always manages to justify hhis behaviour to himself. He seems to follow no moral code - the only code he is following is moral Absurdism - i.e. if you believe that life is essentially meaningless, then all moral codes are also meaningless. Sonia seems to be different and yet I think that she is unconsciously following the same path, she just isn't as aware of it as Alex, or perhaps she is so uncomfortable with it that she doesn't articulate it as openly. She seems to be a very emotionless character; despite all the wrongs Alex puts on her, I didn't feel sorry for her at all. Also, when she quotes Hermann Hesse's philosophy early in the novel, you feel that her ability to do this and like his philosophy, gives her a sinister edge. At the end of the book, we find out that Sonia hasn't been comfortable in the world we think is hers and that she has been "playing" at being a wife and mother for 3 years, just as clinically as Alex has at times "played" at being the devoted husband. I loved his treatment of the Absurd in this novel.

The theme of animals in the book also interested me. Antje's horrible paintings are a pivotal part of the narrative. Sonia is a "domesticated" guinea pig, although I don't think she's domesticated - she's more of a robot. Alex is a "swine" and he thinks that Ivona isn't domesticated at all - shes has something wild about her. In an Absurdist way, Ivona is yet another "mad woman in the attic", a modern version of the Jane Eyre madwoman. Instead of having bulging eyes and throbbing veins, however, she has folds of skin hiding rows of moles, a soft, almost unctuous body, vilely attractive, silently and subconsciously sexy, at odds with the modern view of feminine beauty. She is "other". Her coolection of kitsch, her deeply held religious beliefs, her huge appetite, her autism, all make her "other" in a very modern way. I love the way Stamm has updated the madwoman figure. She is so agin all modern ideas of femininity that she has become an animal - and a wild one.

The other theme I enjoyed was architecture - something I know nothing about and I enjoyred reading the quotes and the discussions in the novel about space and how it affects human relations. It's interesting that Alex loves the old fashioned, "ordinary" Aldo Rossi, compared to Sonia's love of Le Corbusier, an architect whom Alex feels patronises the masses and want to turn everyone into "an ideal man". Corbusier has a philanthropic approach, a clear reason for design an Absurdist Alex dosn't like it. He quotes Rossi as saying "Every room contains an abyss" - certainly every situation he find himself has something deeply abysmal about it. Ivona's complete messiness and love of all things useless and ugly directly contrasts with the middle class architects' theoretical debates - again, she is "other". Corbusier's qoute at the start of the novel feels like the central premise of the narration "Light and shadow reveal form". The book does not pass moral judgement, nor does any character seems to feel any remorse, the narrator simply reveals the form of each person, their dark and light. It's interesting that Antje says that passionate love, or amour fou, "is an inferior form of love. If a cultivated person starts acting like a madman, that is humiliating and a sign of immaturity". In this story, noone seems to be madly in love and yet there is a lot of madness.

Finally, I wondered whether the book was in part an allegory about the rich, cultivated, sophisticated West and the unexplored, "other" Eastern European culture, suddenly more exposed and perhaps threateningly nearer due to the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Alex's treatement of Ivona and her unwavering stoicism seemed very symbolic of the conflict between East and West.
Profile Image for Irmak.
58 reviews37 followers
March 25, 2019
Bu kitabı okumak istememin asıl sebebi, Dünya Kitap Yılın Çeviri Kitabı ödülüne layık görülmesiydi. Dürüst olmak gerekirse sırtını kadın-erkek ilişkilere dayayan ve ilişkinin gelgitlerini esas alan hikâyeleri çok sevmem çünkü yaşadıkları o çelişkiler beni sinir eder. Ne yazık ki bu kitap da bahsi geçen durumda bir istisna olmadı.
Profile Image for Guzzo.
243 reviews
May 31, 2018
No he conectado con el libro, el problema debe de ser mío, porque todas las críticas son estupendas y supuestamente refleja el cansacio y vacío de la actual sociedad de clase media-alta.

Profile Image for Feerena.
29 reviews
December 9, 2012
Jeder mag seine eigene Meinung zu haben, und die möchte ich auch niemandem absprechen. Aber ich habe es satt, in Kritiken zu seinen Werken immer nur Gemecker über seinen Stil zu lesen. Inzwischen sollte doch klar sein, dass er nun einmal so schreibt - dafür muss man einfach nur ein wenig über ihn lesen -, und ich persönlich bin unsagbar dankbar dafür. Selten liest man so feinfühlige Geschichten, die von den Dramen im Kleinen zeugen. Zumindest scheint es so - eigentlich türmen sie sich hoch auf wie Wellen.

So auch bei Sieben Jahre. Ich habe nicht lange gebraucht, um in die Story, die Charaktere und ihre Leben einzusteigen, und dann war ich nicht mehr bereit, sie loszulassen. Ich habe das Buch in einer Situation gelesen, in der ich es vielleicht als möglichen Ratgeber missbraucht habe, in der ich darauf hoffte, in dieser Geschichte eine Lösung für die Realität zu finden. Ich habe eine gefunden, aber anders, als ich es erwartete. Von allen Büchern von Peter Stamm hat dieses mir - neben Agnes vielleicht - am meisten gegeben. Das Scheitern der Menschen, das an allen Ecken und Enden durchblitzt, kennt man schließlich nur zu gut. Auch die Auflösung der Geschichte lässt meiner Meinung nach nicht zu wünschen übrig. Einzig ist bei mir der Wunsch zurückgeblieben, ein wenig so zu sein wie Iwona - glücklich mit dem, was sie hat. Sie ist mir nicht sympathisch, aber irgendwie bleibt sie für mich ein Vorbild.

Macht das nicht Spaß, sagte er und hielt zwei Holzteile in die Höhe, die zusammenzugehören schienen. Wenn keine Schraube fehlt, sagte ich, aber es fehlt immer eine Schraube. Ferdi meinte, das sei Einstellungssache, und arbeitete weiter. Als das Bett endlich aufgebaut war, sagte er, siehst du, es hat keine Schraube gefehlt.
Profile Image for Ar.
15 reviews
June 30, 2022
Am I the only one traumatized when Sonia wanted to move to a different city after telling the daughter she wasn’t her “real” mother? So the mom abandons her, the dad talks about having no ties and starting over… the kid is like the kitten they didn’t wanna get. Abandoned right after the novelty wears off
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Oscar.
1,971 reviews491 followers
September 19, 2014
La nueva novela publicada en España del suizo Peter Stamm, nos habla de esa clase media alta de europeos que lo tienen todo pero aun así no alcanzan la felicidad, algo que sí logran las clases bajas, inmigrantes sobre todo.

La historia de ‘Siete años’, ambientada en Munich, está narrada en primera persona por su protagonista, Alex, que se la está contando a Antje, una amiga suya y de su esposa, Sonja. De esta manera sabremos cómo llegaron a estar juntos Alex y Sonja, ambos arquitectos, que mantienen una relación algo frustrante para ambos. Al igual que conoceremos a un personaje muy importante en la vida de Alex, Ivona, una inmigrante polaca. Ivona no es guapa, no tiene ningún atractivo, ni es muy inteligente, todo lo contrario que Sonja, rubia, bella y ambiciosa. Y aun así Ivona tiene totalmente absorbido a Alex, que no se la puede sacar de la cabeza. Será esta relación la que marcará el resto de la historia.

‘Siete años’ transcurre entre arquitectura, obsesiones, hechos amorales, alcohol, viajes, sexo, rechazo, deseo, obligaciones y responsabilidades (y su falta), todo ello contado por Stamm, un escritor que describe muy bien a sus personajes, a Alex en particular, y que es capaz de narrar de forma lúcida todos estos sentimientos. Sin embargo, pese a que todo está muy bien contado y te interesa de manera absorbente, no se trata de una novela deslumbrante en lo que a ideas se refiere.
Profile Image for Jafar.
728 reviews250 followers
May 5, 2013
I was intrigued by the review of this book in New York Times and decided to read this Swiss writer. The book starts off rather well. Alex, an architect living in Munich, is married to Sonia, another architect and his university classmate, who is bright, driven, and very attractive. But he finds his marriage to be more like a project, with a never-ending series of milestones: build a house, build a business, become successful, make and raise a baby, etc. In college, he had a brief and meaningless affair with Ivona, an illegal Polish immigrant, who is the opposite of his wife: she's dull, uninteresting, unattractive, old-fashioned, religious, and just weird. After years of the strains of a demanding career and marriage, Alex sees Ivona again. Unlike Sonia, Ivona offers unconditional love. She makes no demands of Alex and has no plans for him. Alex realizes that Ivona has a pull on him that he doesn't understand. He's simultaneously fascinated and disgusted by his desire for her.

And then the novel spirals down into an all-around uncertainty and disappointment. Feelings are left unresolved. Everyone is to some degree cruel to everyone in a self-justified and guiltless way. If the novel intended to "explore the complexities of human relationships," the only thing that it delivers is our failure to understand ourselves and each other.
Profile Image for Arwen56.
1,218 reviews271 followers
August 19, 2016
Sette anni è un romanzo che propone una situazione analoga a quella di Non ti muovere, della Mazzantini, non nei dettagli, naturalmente, ma nella sostanza sì. Anche qui abbiamo un uomo che, nonostante abbia tutti i motivi per essere appagato, resta invischiato per anni in un rapporto non ben definito con una donna molto diversa da lui, con la quale non ha praticamente nulla in comune e ancor meno da dire. Un rapporto sicuramente avvilente per lei, benché questa non sia la sua opinione, e da cui lui non esce certo a testa alta.

La situazione proposta, però, appare alquanto forzata, priva di verosimiglianza, e il lettore arriva al termine del libro senza riuscire a capire bene lo scopo di questo narrare, né le intenzioni del protagonista, che restano vaghe tanto quanto l’irrisolto finale.

Non direi valga la pena leggerlo.
Profile Image for Vishy.
680 reviews216 followers
November 29, 2012
After reading Peter Stamm’s brilliant ‘Unformed Landscape’ a week back, I thought I should read another Stamm book. I decided to read ‘Seven Years’. Here is what I think.

���Seven Years’ is a story told in the first person by an architect called Alex. The story flits between two time periods – the present when Alex is married to Sonia and has a daughter called Sophie, and the past when Alex was still a student at university. Alex describes how his architectural career evolved since those times. He also describes how he fell in love with the two women in his life, his wife Sonia and a Polish woman, Ivona. Alex and Sonia have been friends since childhood and their relationship evolves more or less naturally with some hiccups. But Alex himself doesn’t understand how he got attracted to Ivona, because by his own estimate, she is poor, unsophisticated, is an illegal immigrant, is too religious, is silent most of the time, is not educated or talented in any way. Sonia’s friend Antje is visiting and the past part of the story is mostly told by Alex to Antje with Sonia not present when the storytelling is in progress.

‘Seven Years’ can be called a story of a love triangle. It can also be called a novel on architecture. In between the triangle love story, Alex describes his thoughts on architecture in some beautiful passages. Peter Stamm’s spare prose is perfect as always. Most of the characters in the book were complex with flaws and that made the story very interesting and real. My favourite character in the book was Ivona – she is complex and flawed in her own way, but has a childlike simplicity too which probably makes her the character who finds the most happiness, inspite of the difficult situation she is in.

I couldn’t resist comparing ‘Seven Years’ with ‘Unformed Landscape’. I discovered that they were written nearly a decade apart and so the author and his writing style and the topics he would have been interested in would have evolved in that period. Giving allowance to such things, I feel that though ‘Seven Years’ was good, ‘Unformed Landscape’ was brilliant. Because I remember when I finished reading ‘Unformed Landscape’, I refused to let go off the book and carried it around for a couple of days, browsing it and reading my favourite passages again and again and refusing to pick up another book. That rarely happens to me. It is still there on the top of my book pile waiting to be re-read. I didn’t feel the same way about ‘Seven Years’. Of course, the problem is mostly with me, because after reading ‘Unformed Landscape’ I was expecting a similar book in ‘Seven Years’. But ‘Seven Years’ is not like that. It is a good book. It is worth a read. But in my opinion ‘Unformed Landscape’ is better – more dazzling, more brilliant and more beautiful.

I loved the cover of the edition of ‘Seven Years’ I read. It had two parts – a translucent dust jacket which had the title and the author’s and translator’s names. The cover image was on the actual cover which was visible through the translucent dust cover. Both of them together created a beautiful effect. This is probably not a new idea for cover designers, but this is new to me. I loved it.

If you like complex love stories with an architectural backdrop, you will love ‘Seven Years’. I will leave you with some of my favourite passages from the book.

I thought about my new blueprint. It must be possible to create space that would allow feelings, that would enable and communicate the sort of freedom and openness I was thinking of. I envisaged lofty transparent halls, open staircases, the play of light and shade. I wasn’t quite sure whether I was awake or dreaming, but all at once I saw everything before me, clear and distinct.

I had reckoned I would get sick of Ivona sooner or later, and get rid of her, but even though the sex with her interested me less and less, and sometimes we didn’t sleep together at all and just talked, I couldn’t shake her off. It wasn’t pleasure that tied me to her, it was a feeling I hadn’t had since childhood, a mixture of freedom and protectedness. It was as though time stood still when I was with her, which was precisely what gave those moments their weight. Sonia was a project. We wanted to build a house, we wanted to have a baby, we employed people, we bought a second car. No sooner had we reached one goal than the next loomed into sight, we were never done. Ivona on the other hand seemed to have no ambition. She had no plans, her life was simple and regular. She got up in the morning, had breakfast, went to work. If it was a good or a bad day depended on certain little things, the weather, some kind words in the bakery or in one of the houses where she cleaned, a call from a friend with whom she had a drink after work or went to the movies. When I was with her, I participated in her life for an hour and forgot everything, the pressure of time, my ambition, the problems on the building sites. Even sex became completely different. I didn’t have to make Ivona pregnant, I didn’t even have to make her come. She took me without expectations and without claims.

Sometimes I fished out my old papers, projects I had worked on in college, competition entries from the time we started the business. Most of it looked alarmingly banal to me. But in the drawings I still sensed something of my mood in those years, my determination to go new ways. Nothing was sacred to me then, and nothing seemed impossible. For all the limitations of the work, there was a kind of truthfulness in it, a freshness that our current designs no longer had. I could understand architects like Boullée, who eventually turned into draftsmen pure and simple, without ever craving to see one of their designs realized. It was only in the fictive world of plans and sketches that you were free to do everything the way you wanted. I started drawing in the evenings, usually oversize interiors, empty halls with dramatic light effects, sacral buildings, labyrinths, and subterranean complexes.

Have you read Peter Stamm’s ‘Seven Years’? What do you think about it?
Profile Image for Hulyacln.
836 reviews383 followers
September 15, 2018
Alexander,iki kadın arasında kalıyor,hem de uzun bir süre..Bir yanda sevgisiyle şaşırtan Iwona diğer yanda olabildiğince soğuk Sonja.
Uzun zamandır erkek psikolojini bu kadar derinden işleyen bir kitap geçmemişti elime.Alex’e kızdım (fazlasıyla kızdım!),sonra bir kedi yavrusuymuşçasına şefkat duydum,güldüm,hatta bir iki noktada gözlerim de doldu.Çünkü “çok insani” bir öykü bu.
Geri planda kalanlar da dahil olmak üzere her karakter özeldi.Rüdiger örneğin.En etkileyen isim ise Iwona idi.Saflıktan fazlası vardı onda,adayış da değil.Belki de hikayelerini dinlediği azizelerden biri olmaktı niyeti.
Mimarlık üzerine ilgisi olanların da sevebileceği bir kitaptı Yedi Yıl.Alex’in yıllar içinde duygu değişimini,olgunlaşmasını mesleğindeki tutumlarında da izlemek mümkündü.
Okumanın rahatlatıcı etkisi bu tarz öykülerde daha çok hissedilebilir kanaatindeyim.Bir beklentiye girmiyorsunuz,an’da kalabiliyorsunuz.Sonu ne şekilde biterse bitsin,kapağı kapattığınızda gülümseyebiliyorsunuz.
Kapak resmi de sadeliği ve kitap ile yakından ilişkili oluşuyla beni kendine çekti.Hikayeyi bölmeyen,akıcı çeviride ise Regaip Minareci var~
Profile Image for Larnacouer  de SH.
732 reviews162 followers
March 20, 2022
YEMİN EDERİM İMDAT DİYE BEN SLFMSLEKMEKSMEKDL Stamm bu kitabında Türk dizilerinden ilham alırcasına bi’ cacıklamış gibime geldi. Uzağın Ötesinde kitabını ısrarla okuyun bu kitabıysa ne bileyim insan içindeyiz sövdürmeyin şimdi. Diyeceklerim bu kadar slfdmmfmdmd.
Ay sanki ne dedin diyenleri blockluyorum. 🤣🤣
Profile Image for Barbara.
705 reviews19 followers
February 4, 2017
"really liked it" (also 4 Sterne) kann ich einfach nicht vergeben. Aber kann ich das überhaupt für einen Roman von Peter Stamm, der auch hier über wenig lebensfreudige Menschen spricht, in dieser für ihn typischen schnörkellosen Sprache? Was bei seinen Kurzgeschichten wunderbar funktioniert, wirkt in Romanlänge anders - oder länger. Das führt dazu, dass man selbst wenig Emotionen beim Lesen dieser Beziehungen, in denen die Paare kaum miteinander reden, aneinander vorbeileben, kaum wissen, was mit sich selbst anzufangen.

Hier geht es um Alex und Sonja, die nach einiger Zeit der Freundschaft ein Paar werden. Und das dann 18 Jahre zusammen aushalten bis zum erzählten Jetzt, in dem der Ich-Erzählers Alex, dem manchmal ist, "...als sei [ihm] alles einfach zugestoßen" (S. 276) einer alten Bekannten von früher erzählt und Dinge offenbart, über die er noch nie gesprochen hat. Unter anderem über Iwona, eine wenig attraktive Polin, zu der er sich unerklärlicherweise (auch für ihn selbst) hingezogen fühlt.

Der Klappentext verrät leider schon viel von der Handlung. Ich hatte ihn vorher nicht gelesen und das war gut so, denn damit entstand Spannung an einer Stelle, an der sonst Langeweile hätte aufkommen können. Der Titel bezieht sich übrigens nicht auf das verflixte siebte Jahr, sondern ist eine Anspielung auf die biblische Geschichte von Jakobs Heirat mit Lea und Rahel. Eine schöne, wenn auch nicht vollständig passende Parallele.

Es gibt zwar Handlung und Entwicklungen, z.B. wie die Krise der Baubranche auch Alex und Sonja trifft; Elternschaft, aber die Protagonisten machen kaum innere Fortschritte. Das kann vorkommen, auch im realen Leben, ist aber vielleicht der Grund, warum ich diesem Buch keine vollen 4 Sterne geben will. Es liegt auf jeden Fall nicht an dem geringen Identifikationspotential der Figuren. Das gestörte Beziehungsthema ist übrigens an allen Paaren (oder ungewollt Alleinstehenden) erkennbar. Ein schönes Extra sind die vielen Architekturdetails. - 3,5 Sterne
Profile Image for Roberto.
Author 2 books103 followers
September 8, 2016
This is a novel that says isn't human desire odd and unpredictable, and isn't it a little disappointing too. Or it's a novel about a guy who marries a woman he doesn't love, and the stuff that happens when that happens. Sure Sonia's beautiful, but her ambition and non-existent sense of humour are a major hard-off. Ivonna is kind of great though, she felt real and tragic and pathetic, and she is what makes this novel weird and more interesting than it sounds. Peter Stamm isn't trying to write likeable characters (praise the lord), but he's not NOT trying to write likeable characters either, just real ones - if you're one of those charmers that complain about books not having characters they can relate to, would you even recognise your dirty selfish self in a book? Huh? Stamm's not afraid of you. This isn't a novel about passion, but it is kind of about lust and how the things that we desire are elusive and our reasons for going after them complex, oh and it's about failed dreams too, and how everything gets compromised with age la la la. If you like it minimal, this is for you aesthete!
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2,224 reviews210 followers
April 13, 2012
most all have some sort of addiction, maybe it's to crafting gross macrame do-dads, or cigarettes, heroin, booze, sex, bacon, running, reading, spanking, getting spanked, love, happiness.....
but what if you were addicted to yourself? sure sure, an old greek tale, but really, what if, the only way you can be happy is to indulge in yourself, to your appetites, your sex, your love, to the utter length of screwing over your family, friends, colleagues, lovers, children? and then tell us the story honestly, deadpanily, with cringe-making this-could-be-you[me]? peter stamm writes a story about that guy. but really it could be anybody and you might not ever know they were an addict, until they screw you too.
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