A weird, witty, fun, funny spoof of (I think) bad Thomas Hardy imitators, of which there must have been prominent scores in the 1920s. It was writtenA weird, witty, fun, funny spoof of (I think) bad Thomas Hardy imitators, of which there must have been prominent scores in the 1920s. It was written in 1932 but is set sometime in the future, which usually doesn't register but occasionally adds to its fantasticality and strangeness - such as when the protagonist makes a call to a friend from a payphone, and the friend turns his TV on in order to look at her face while they talk. I thought "cool, they're skyping!" (How cool would it be if you could Skype with someone from a phone booth? How cool would it be if there were still phone booths? But I digress.)
This novel is hammy and fabulous, in a saucy, insouciant, refreshing, 1920s-British comedic literary sendup sort of way. In particular, I chortled at the various scenes in which Gibbons roasts stereotypically chauvinistic masculine seduction routines, and i relished her forays into tongue-in-cheek purple prose, including her satirically overwrought, bizarrely convoluted mixed metaphors: "His huge body, rude as a wind-tortured thorn, was printed darkly against the thin mild flame of the declining winter sun hat throbbed like a sallow lemon on the westering lip of Mockuncle Hill...".
Writing this book must have been a riot. Reading it was definitely a pleasure. I chuckled out loud many times, and was let down only by the comparative one-dimensionality of the heroine's love interest (which is *almost* but not quite made up for by the fact that he owns a plane named "Speed Cop II") and by a single casually anti-Semitic barb (which for the 1920s/30s is really just par for the course, I suppose - not that that's any excuse, obviously.) Now I want to see the movie and find out if it's as good as the book.*
*the resident film scholar in my abode didn't like it, the reason seeming to be something along the lines of "there wasn't any action between the two hot main female characters the way it looked like there was going to be in the trailer, and you didn't get to see them naked" if I heard him correctly.**
**Addendum: he claims he did not say that.)...more
I'm really getting to be a fan of Paula Fox - this is the second of her novels that I've read in the last month or so. The other, "Desperate CharacterI'm really getting to be a fan of Paula Fox - this is the second of her novels that I've read in the last month or so. The other, "Desperate Characters", was aimed at adults, and this one is geared primarily towards young adolescents. The story takes place in 1840 and the narrator is a sympathetically portrayed 13-year-old New Orleans boy called Jessie, who's kidnapped from the docks and forced to work on a slave ship, hauling buckets of waste and playing the fife while the captive Africans are forced to "dance" to keep their strength up. Fox drives home the gruesomeness of the slave trade with her unflinching descriptions of the suffering of the ship's human cargo as seen through Jessie's eyes, interspersed with the stark numbers mentioned by the crew as they describe the death toll of previous voyages. The crew is a piratical cast of mainly loathsome rabble, who illustrate through their violent and often sadistic behavior the grotesque and paradoxical ways in which the sailors' feelings and worldview are contorted to accommodate their perilous and deadly profession. Fox has a keen eye for realistic psychological nuance, and the result is a thoughtfully written, emotionally harrowing, historically accurate piece of juvenile fiction that directly yet sensitively confronts one of the most shameful and horrific chapters of America's past.
Brooklyn in the late '60's. People smoke constantly everywhere, even in hospital emergency rooms. The streets are extravagantly filthy, and everyone tBrooklyn in the late '60's. People smoke constantly everywhere, even in hospital emergency rooms. The streets are extravagantly filthy, and everyone tells each other to shut up all the time. The subtle tensions of simmering class warfare permeate the privileged protagonists with a miasma of permanent paranoia. Elegantly depressing, lucidly unsettling prose, from an author I'd previously only been aware of as a children's book writer....more
Indifferent short stories. I read the first four stories and half of the 5th, then followed fellow readers' advice and skipped to the last one, whichIndifferent short stories. I read the first four stories and half of the 5th, then followed fellow readers' advice and skipped to the last one, which was better than the others, but somewhat mawkish. Overall, I'd give this book a resounding "meh". ...more
I got this book at the library book sale, thinking it'd be some nice, light romantic, historical fiction that I could read, enjoy, and then pass on toI got this book at the library book sale, thinking it'd be some nice, light romantic, historical fiction that I could read, enjoy, and then pass on to my Oma. I read through chapter one, then skipped ahead and was a bit unsettled, and decided to skip the rest. The upshot is that I'd really only recommend this book to someone with a Victorian incest fetish and a love for throbbing, overwrought prose. I should have known something was amiss when the Daily Mail gave it a thumbs up. Oh well, at least it only cost $1! ...more