This book may or may not have been inspired by an event in Anthony Burgess' life when his wife, Lynne, was robbed and assaulted by American G.I.s duri...moreThis book may or may not have been inspired by an event in Anthony Burgess' life when his wife, Lynne, was robbed and assaulted by American G.I.s during the Second World War. In some tellings of this, Lynne was murdered. The fact is that she died years later from cirrhosis of the liver, so one has always got to be careful citing incidents in people's lives. Apparently she suffered a miscarriage as a result of this attack and there may have been a cathartic motivation for his writing the story. The paperback I first read contained a glossary prepared by Burgess so we might understand the speech of Alex and his droogies (this language, Nadsat, was created out of a combination Russian and Cockney Rhyming slangs); later, when Burgess put out a revised edition of the book, set to be the definitive version, there was no glossary. We were left once again in the dark! The only reason I could get through the book was because of Kubrick's film version, and the performance by Malcolm McDowell. I can well understand anyone who hates the book because of the difficulty figuring out what Alex is saying, but through the haze there is a valid and clear statement about the nature of man's innate evil. For a book that was (as the author said) "knocked out over a three week period for quick cash" it has certainly made an impact. But as careful as one must be to accept information about someone's life from others, one must be even more suspicious of that which one does tell about their own life. As Peter Cook (the actor, not Christy Brinkley's ex-husband-to-be -- although it probably applies to him as well) says to Stanley Moon in "Bedazzled": Everything I've ever told you, including this, is a lie. (less)
I read "Carrie" when it first came out in paperback. At that time there were so many cheap paperback novels of mystery, suspense and horror (not to me...moreI read "Carrie" when it first came out in paperback. At that time there were so many cheap paperback novels of mystery, suspense and horror (not to mention science fiction), that I was compelled to read them all. Needless to say, almost all these books have vanished into the morgue of forgotten works along with their authors. Most deserved the unceremonious dismissal, that's for sure, and some did not. But this book (and author) were, I thought, the worst bits of crap I've ever seen. I hated the approach, the mean-spirited theme, and the brutality. Into my stack of paperbacks it went, never to be thought of again -- until the author's second book, "Salem's Lot". I swore I would not be tempted after the bitter carrie-flavor left in my mouth, but everyone in the world seemed to be reading "Salem’s Lot". You could not go anywhere in public without seeing numerous people with the book pressed to their faces, unable to put it down. So I was lulled and seduced into giving Stephen King another chance.
There will always be people who hate Stephen King's works, and the many more who have built him into a cult figure, and I'm happy to say that while I don't subscribe to fandom I do support his works and am happy not to have dismissed him. Some of what he's written strikes deep into the heart, but there is still the slight percentage of Carrieness he's brought with him through the years.
Read "Carrie" after you've read lots of other King works and I suppose it's more tolerable; just knowing what a career the man has had makes a difference. Coming into him cold, as I did, with absolutely nothing but the book itself on which to base an opinion was not a good thing. I did re-read "Carrie" several years ago and guess what? I still hated it! Brian DePalma's movie, however, was terrific. (less)
People have made a case over the prophetic aspects of this book, and it is true that there are some coincidences relating the fictional Titan to the r...morePeople have made a case over the prophetic aspects of this book, and it is true that there are some coincidences relating the fictional Titan to the real life Titanic. But a careful look at the time in which this was published originally in 1898 and reissued after the disaster in 1912 shows that Morgan Robertson's book was merely the result of well-researched fiction. Iceberg sinkings were not uncommon, and it was no stretch to envision the largest ship ever built and then add the plus value of dimensions, weight and propulsion. Fill the fictional ship with the rich and famous and - viola you have a book that mirrors an event that will happen based on the strides of technology and commerce. Robertson's fictional ship rode up over the iceberg and capsized, as opposed to the real ship, which was damaged in the collision sinking it.
There once was a television show called "One Step Beyond", an anthology of stories with an ironic supernatural bend and they presented one about an artist in Maine who is sketching the face of a beautiful woman amidst water and seaweed just as she drowns while the Titanic sinks! At the show's end the host, John Newland, presented this ultra spooky look into psychic phenomenon by relating the story of Morgan Robertson and his future-telling book. I could not wait to read it, and in those days before someone glommed upon the power of paperback reissues of public domain books, I had to try to locate an original through a book search service. It cost me $25.00!! But, oh, the thrill and salivation over having this marvel of proof of man's gift of ESP! And when I got too old to dream, I still maintained a certain admiration for a book's power to tickle the imagination ... thanks largely to Futility. (less)
I found this novel more psychological than historical. Was Doll actually a witch, or was she led to believe it by jealous and superstitious people? Di...moreI found this novel more psychological than historical. Was Doll actually a witch, or was she led to believe it by jealous and superstitious people? Did she take a dæmon lover, or were unscrupulous men abusing her? This book is rich in horror and tragedy and interpretation. I recommend it highly. It gets better with each read.(less)
Val Lewton wrote stories way ahead of his time -- ahead of his time in the sense that they were realistically gritty and frank. It's surreal to see 19...moreVal Lewton wrote stories way ahead of his time -- ahead of his time in the sense that they were realistically gritty and frank. It's surreal to see 1960s sensibilities in writings of the 1930s set during the First Great Depression. His characters are engaging and their exploits are sure-fire page-turners, although many readers will tend to find them soapy or closer to ladies romantic novels. "Yearly Lease" takes place in an apartment building outside Manhattan.(less)
My friend and fraternal brother from the Sons of the Desert wrote this during the absolute golden days of the organization. I give it three stars beca...moreMy friend and fraternal brother from the Sons of the Desert wrote this during the absolute golden days of the organization. I give it three stars because while it is an enjoyable read, you would have had to be there to really appreciate all the in-jokes and references. I have a cameo in the book, and one of the characters was based on some of my attributes as pool-partner to Marvin against Al Kilgore and Alan Barbour at the tables in the Lamb's Club bar, where the Sons met in those dim and dusky days. This edition's cover cannot hold a candle to the original with art by Kilgore; if you want this book, check ebay for an early edition because the cover is part of the fun. (less)
Truth be told, even in 1911, when this hoary book was published in America, it was considered a little over the top. As long as one doesn’t take it to...moreTruth be told, even in 1911, when this hoary book was published in America, it was considered a little over the top. As long as one doesn’t take it too seriously as literature, it can be a fun read … but by and large, the property has life only due to the various theatrical versions of it, starting with the 1925 Universal picture starring Lon Chaney.
For some obscure reason, almost every twenty years or so since that film Erik has been brought back to life in some new venture. Each one tweaks the story a little, adding some non-Leroux facet or another. The story and characters have evolved this way, like a spinning wheel o’ fortune, to the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical where it seems to stop at the measure of audience appreciation it’s gotten.
I like the book, even for its downfalls, which I find slight. It is witty in places, filled with creaky old melodramatic turns, but that’s part of the journey. The illustrations in the Bobbs-Merrill 1911 American edition are a revelation; a revelation because Chaney’s makeup mimics the artist conception of Erik so closely that one might think they were drawn from studio stills; but Universal president Carl Laemmle was so intent on detailing the Leroux book down to the finest detail it’s really no surprise at all. (less)