I remember being...more
'Crowded, crammed, bursting with manic erudition, garlicky puns, omnilingual jokes...which meshes the real and personalised history of the twentieth century' - Martin Amis. Kenneth Toomey is an eminent novelist of dubious talent; Don Carlo Campanati is a man of God, a shrewd manipulator who rises through the Vatican to become the architect of church revolution and a candidate for sainthood. These two men are linked not only by family ties but by a common understanding of mankind's frailties. In
Nevertheless, take this book on its own terms and read honestly, and you will find that by and large it stinks on its own merits. Burgess has a sense of humor and can talk entertainingly about literature, history, and religion. But that's about it. Emotionally this book is a galactic void. Toomey...more
I'm not ashamed to say (OK, actually I am, a little bit) that the narrator of "Earthly Powers" and its author are far too clever for me. I couldn't get through this story of an aging writer, his escapades throughout the 20th century and a man he knows who would be pope. The writing is sharp but best appreciated, I fear, by that insufferable elitist guy you meet at parties who irritates you with his knowledge, self-love and command of many languages. The latter trait I do not h...more
Well, I'd probably still give it a lot of stars, very interesting, certainly entertaining, but maybe not as satisfying as I remember.
There are whole chapters on theological musings, sermons, discussions on Art (the butcher's boy), etc. that I don't really care about - but perhaps are necessary to give the w...more
Well, only partially successfully if this is anything to go by. But it doesn't matter.
This is a tour de force. The account of 80 years of life, drawing heavily on the author's own, intersecting with the major events and some of the major characters of the twentieth century. The life of Kenneth M. Toomey. A man with a dicky heart - just one of the many jokes - a heart condition, and a heart that...more
The most impressive, incredible thing for me about this book is that no mat...more
It took me about two and a half months to read, even though it's not one of the longest books I've read. That's cause this sucker is DENSE - no book for someone looking for an easy read.
The narrator, Kenneth Toomey, is a British novelist, now in his eighties, looking back over his life. Despite the fact that he is openly homosexual, officials from the Catholic Church want him to write for them - an account about the recently deceased pope, Gregory XVII, or Carlo Campanat...more
Earthly Powers is the linchpin of Anthony Burgess' novel-writing career. It is a massive work that compares favorably with similar tomes of twentieth century literature. What sets Burgess apart from other authors is his linguistic playfulness combined with an exceptional narrative style. Although this style is here somewhat less obviously experimental t...more
Using this device, he manages to offer a view on about 60 years of history, from Britain around the First World War to the US in the 1970's. In the process, he pulls apart and question so many contemporary religious and moral ideas, it makes your h...more
Haven't read since it was first published, but on the eve of a re-read -- an easy five stars.
This book is almost unique in its descriptions of music. Burgess has succeeded in writing about classical music in a way which makes it possible to visualise what the music is like. I particularly enjoyed these passages because I lost my hearing in early childhood and have no memories of any music.
One thing I did absolutely adore about Earthly Powers was the language. Anthony Burgess manipulated the English language fantastically, in a happiness-making way....more
'It was the morning of my 81st birthday and I was lying in bed with my catamite when Ali came in to say the Archbishop was here to see me.'
"It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me."
Unlike many Big Books, Earthly Powers is a treat throughout. Burgess's Joycemania is on full display but seldom gets out of control.