I say, to embark on a journey with an author previously unfamiliar to me should be, for the most part, an interesting voyage. How thundering a disappo...moreI say, to embark on a journey with an author previously unfamiliar to me should be, for the most part, an interesting voyage. How thundering a disappointment when such proves not to be the case. On Chesil Beach, my introduction to Ian McEwan, is beautifully written; the imaginative, florid prose sticks to the brain waves and rides along a melodic note. The writing struck me at first, but that is the best I can say about this novel. It had premise that felt unfulfilled towards the end. So much room to devote to the exploration and development of the newlywed couple Edward and Florence that simply was passed over for the perverse, if not pornographic, descriptions of the man's yearning and the woman's repulsion (the former outwardly professed by the kissing, touching, and caressing; the latter by Florence's thoughts revealed only to the reader, never the husband until the end). The sole sexual scene on the couple's wedding night (the anticipation, the disgust; the interspersed flashback to the characters past history) lead to a feeble diminuendo and a disappointment. Why are Edward and Florence in love? What do they share in common to link them together? She is a violinist, a lover of classical music; he can't stand classical music. He is absorbed in sexual yearning; she finds the act of sex disgusting. They have nothing in common but the notion of being together (he physically, she emotionally). In the end, they find nothing and the novel abandons the characters having concluded the tale abruptly and unfulfilled. McEwan invested time at the start to engage the reader in his characters, the story only to leave emptiness to linger thereafter. I felt cheated.(less)
I don’t call myself a Dickens fan, for I’ve not read all his works and of those that I had, I found myself wandering often than not to other matters a...moreI don’t call myself a Dickens fan, for I’ve not read all his works and of those that I had, I found myself wandering often than not to other matters away from the words in endless swarm upon the page. I enjoyed David Copperfield, true, for the portrayal of the title character’s abuse in his childhood; so vividly was the picture painted by the author that I suffered along with David at the hand of his cruel aunt. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, on the other hand, I dropped not even a quarter through the book having found it quite the bore (at least for the time). Oh, but for the past several days I have bore the weight of Dickens in my womb, in my heart, in my mind, in my soul.
My eyes were bleeding Dickens. My tongue was speaking Dickens. My hand was writing Dickens. Everything before me was Dickens.
From the moment I awoke to the resting hour of sleep at night I was one with Dickens. I was one with Dickens! Oh, but with pleasure I carried the heaviness upon my person, my mind and soul to contemplate every waking moment of my days, hours, minutes, seconds. How useless is that to explain the glory in mere small words that, with time, shall, too, lose their vigor and stature as I shall lose by person to the spirits: the hour of my wake is the hour of my death. I walked to La Guillotine. I faced the terror. I fought with the best of them.
I was in love. I was in death. I shed the tears. I rejoiced in triumphs. I recited the prayers. I cursed the villains.
Oh, how my vision to all else was blurred in the smoke! Oh, how sharp was the pang to the heart at each betrayal! Oh, how hopeless all else! Yes, I was one with Dickens, again, again, and ever more. I was everything forever and endlessly so. And I was one without. For whatever satisfaction I gathered from this reading, I know that Dickens will remain a much too verbose friend to conquer again. And conquer him I wish not, at least not at the present. The adventure was grand; the moments superb; shadows unrelenting; and echoes frightening and lingering through Time and History undying. I am a far, far better man to have known it; I am a far, far better mind to have endured it.(less)
**spoiler alert** I finished Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham last night to a terrible thunderstorm raging outside. It seemed almost fitting in...more**spoiler alert** I finished Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham last night to a terrible thunderstorm raging outside. It seemed almost fitting in the end, really: the strength of the storm almost mimicked the passionate, and ill fated, affair with Mildred. It’s not hard to see oneself in literary characters, and I would not tell the truth that I did not identify in certain regards with Philip, and while I enjoyed the novel (albeit just lackadaisically), Philip came off remarkably foolish and much too prone to self pity. The writing was enjoyable, poetic at times and yet at times overly ornate and verbose. In the end, unlike with Edmond Dantès or Jean Valjean, I was quite glad to leave Philip to settle in a quiet marriage in the English countryside to find happiness and love.(less)
The Pale Horse is Agatha Christie’s novel dealing with black magic. Dame Christie ingeniously weaves a web into the murderous world of an old inn The...moreThe Pale Horse is Agatha Christie’s novel dealing with black magic. Dame Christie ingeniously weaves a web into the murderous world of an old inn The Pale Horse where a witch, a medium and a psychic form circle of devious intentions. The story opens with Thomasina Tuckerton in a brawl with another woman over a man and that leads to a chain of events that uncovers one murder after another. Ms. Tuckerton’s untimely death and would have been unnoticed if Father Gorman had not been found murdered after taking the confession of Mrs. Davis with a list of names in his shoe. And the one tie to everything is the old inn, The Pale Horse. Mark Easterbrook, with the help of Ariadne Oliver, solves the mystery of the sinister gang.
The novel reads easily enough with the classic Christie charm on every page. This is Dame Christie’s only novel that uses “black” magic as means of murder, or a suggestion thereof. It’s a genius plot! The séance scene is a read to behold. This is Mrs. Oliver’s fourth appearance in Christie’s work and the only novel where the fictional writer appears without her friend, the famed Belgium detective Hercule Poirot. I enjoyed this mystery quite a bit. It’s been sometime since I read a Christie mystery and it was a pleasant return to a favored author. The only disappointment was guessing the murder way in advance of the resolution at the conclusion of the story.(less)
A Happy Death is a beautifully written (translated) narrative of Camus’ first novel. It is so simply written that it just flows through you: vivid ima...moreA Happy Death is a beautifully written (translated) narrative of Camus’ first novel. It is so simply written that it just flows through you: vivid imagery lingers so sweetly on the tongue, clear and swiftly leaving a wonderful sensation and fascination with the fate of man. It is not so much that man dies as much as the concept of dying a happy man. The novel gives a glimpse to his masterpiece, The Stranger, but Camus is more exposed emotionally in A Happy Death. Excellent book! And the title is the best oxymoron I have encountered thus far, in literature or otherwise. (less)