Gritty and free flowing, Gray was much better than I anticipated (my expectations are never real high when famous actors or musicians decide to try th...moreGritty and free flowing, Gray was much better than I anticipated (my expectations are never real high when famous actors or musicians decide to try their hands at writing) and I was prepared to bestow a solid 4-start rating...until the last 40 pages or so. The rapid descent into cliche after cliche after cliche for the ending had me rolling my eyes so hard I couldn't even see the page. I love the writing style and, as someone who enjoys the grittier, darker side of things, I enjoy delving into the seedier and less pleasant aspects of life on the road, mental health, and obsession (because the relationship with Her isn't love, it's obsession). But I cannot get past the whiplash induced by the sudden 1-2-3 punch of overdone cliches as the story wrapped up. Wentz (and/or Montgomery) could've done far better than that ending.(less)
This book has haunted me since I first read it three years ago. I remembered so well the feeling I had while reading this the first time, lethargic an...moreThis book has haunted me since I first read it three years ago. I remembered so well the feeling I had while reading this the first time, lethargic and removed from reality, as if a veil had fallen between myself and the rest of the world, the edges of everything having gone soft and blurry, and that same sensation came flooding back as I read a second time. Additionally, this second reading made me slightly restless, not from boredom but from a subtle anxiety emanating from the pages, growing more substantial as the story moves inexorably to its conclusion. The multiple layers disguised by the apparent simplicity of the writing, Duras' lyrical style, and the dreamlike quality that infuses the very pages are part of what makes this so memorable for me. Something about it touches oh so very lightly some dark, inner place while you read, just brushes it enough to remind you what's hidden in the recesses of the mind, passions, and body.
While some have complained that very little happens within The Ravishing of Lol Stein, I vehemently disagree. While there are plenty of "things" that happen - the first meeting, the dinner party, the nights at the hotel, and Lol and Jack's trip at the end - those things all feel as if they aren't even really happening, there's such a dream quality to them. The events have been pared down to almost an outline of a scene, with all the empty spaces filled with the muted, warped inner workings of the characters as presented by the unreliable narration. It's quite easy to look back over the story and have those things slip the readers mind. The true action is in the characters themselves, their stilted interactions and personal motives, the fluid way they react to one another, slipping and sliding past as each changes and responds. That's Duras' focus, what she's presenting to the reader as important. Plenty happens there, more than can be picked up in a single reading, but it's so understated it might be easy to miss.
I love this book so much, and I can't even explain why, not in any satisfactory way. It's simply my response to it, so base and visceral, the twisting in my gut and the way my breathing would break as I read. One of my all-time favorites.(less)