I think Palahniuk is one of the eminent adult writers of our time. Rant was an excellent story and was somewhat faulkner-esque in that the oral story...moreI think Palahniuk is one of the eminent adult writers of our time. Rant was an excellent story and was somewhat faulkner-esque in that the oral story was told by tons of characters. The concept of time travel, liminal time, modern plague are all interwoven into a complex tale that really sends one’s mind whirling, digging, wondering what is really happening in our time. Also, the concept that time is like a chain-link fence is really original, and really opens up ideas about time travel.(less)
Having just finished the novel, my thoughts seem scattered and random. I have such a raw feeling about this book, an unanswered angst. I guess this is...moreHaving just finished the novel, my thoughts seem scattered and random. I have such a raw feeling about this book, an unanswered angst. I guess this is why Updike named his character Harry Rabbitâ€� Angstrom. He gets himself into many "hairy" situations, and his solution is to run from his problems. It seems silly to be processing this novel in this way, but the novel is so full of metaphors and symbolism, that it is difficult to escape even the subtle inferences of names. His father-in-law owns several car dealerships, which he refers to as lots. Harry has received everything in his life from the lot, it is his lot in life but I digress.
Style: Updike uses punctuation in a way that adds to his character's feelings. Harry often feels trapped, and as a trapped rabbit he has hyper-active reactions in many places in the narrative. The sparing use of the comma forces the reader to read at a pace that is often relentless. In one section the sentence dragged of for over a page. The reader gets an agonized trapped feeling, like "When is this sentence ever going to end?" and it plays well with Harry's feelings as well. Updike never uses a chapter break. Harry doesn't get one, neither do we.
Theme: Updike uses imagery to control tense moments in his prose. He uses it to control sexually explicit scenes as well, instead of handling them in a pornographic way. For example: "They want you up and hard on their little edge. The thing is to play them until just a touch. You can tell: their skin under the fur gets all loose like a puppy's neck." The image dilutes the graphic nature of what Harry/Updike is describing.
Harry is obviously a male character, and he even borders on the stereotypical male at times. But Updike uses a keen sense of imagery to manipulate each scene. On the back cover of the book, the Kansas City Star is quoted, "A lacerating story of loss and seeking, written in prose that is charged with emotion but is always held under impeccable control." How can a story be lacerating, if it is under control you ask? By walking the edge between the lyrical, and the vulgar. Harry's angst is as much a part of his spiritual being, as it is a part of his sexual being. I look at my notes under a heading labeled "themes" and skin, sex, and smells (beef) are the three I have listed. I am realizing as I type that this may be all the same theme, and fall under the broad heading of skin. Images of skin permeate the text, and it starts with people not being able to live their lives in their own skin. Skin is a sexual, visceral part of the text in many respects. Even the smell of beef roasting is described in several scenes (the minister's house!), and is in fact flesh. Possibly the fact that Updike has suffered from psoriasis his entire life, may contribute to the obsession with skin. Other scents are described throughout the novel, giving it a rich feel of normalcy. One doesn't often dwell on the smells of the day, yet how many can we describe when we think about and entire 24-hour period?
Over-all, I found the novel to be an extraordinary read, and still very relevant today. Having recently been through a divorce, with children, this novel had a very visceral affect on me, which I am still feeling, and will be considering for many days to come. (less)
Don DeLillo. This is a name that has been dropped whenever "good" books or "good" writers are mentioned. He won the National Book Award for his novel...moreDon DeLillo. This is a name that has been dropped whenever "good" books or "good" writers are mentioned. He won the National Book Award for his novel "White Noise" in 1985 and when I saw "The Body Artist" on the shelf in Barnes and Noble, at a slim and undaunting 124 pages, I thought if I'm ever going to read DeLillo, this would be the one.
DeLillo's style is very approachable, and I am not sure if I have ever read a book that I analyzed with such a critical eye. I can see the author's pen thoughout this book, and it forced me to stop during the narrative, but in an amazing way. I wasn't thrown out of the narrative completely, I was forced to look deeper into the way that DeLillo was writing his story and ask myself, "How is he doing this?"
"The Body Artist" is a strange tale of a woman who is literally a body artist, she make art with her physical body. Starving herself, painting herself, breathing and stretching, she uses all of these things to pose herself on display, and compels audiences to look at her form, and contemplate her art (as are we compelled as readers to do the same). The novel is about how this art is created, and possibly what it means-- a strange journey indeed. Coming from South Dakota, the New York art scene is a bit out of my sphere, but nonetheless, this book is a masterful work of art in itself.
I could read this novel three times and not comepletely understand it, yet find something new everytime. DeLillo's prose reads like poetry-- a sensual and elegant feast of words. He is indeed a master of the artistic craft of writing.
McCarthy’s book about old sheriffs and the changing face of America is set along the Texas/Mexico border, and is written with a finesse that is seldom...moreMcCarthy’s book about old sheriffs and the changing face of America is set along the Texas/Mexico border, and is written with a finesse that is seldom seen in today’s fiction. It is not surprising that McCarthy’s The Road won the Pulitzer Prize. Unlike Elmore Leonard’s characters, McCarthy’s characters are genuinely good people for the most part. McCarthy is trying to tell the reader something in this novel, that America is no longer a country for old men and their values. America is changing and it is difficult for people with values to accept or understand some of the changes that have become commonplace. Considering McCarthy sets his novel in the early 1980’s, I think McCarthy’s message is a clear one. (less)
Steinbeck has written a book about two of the unique characteristics that illuminate the human condition: loneliness and hope. Steinbeck’s characters...moreSteinbeck has written a book about two of the unique characteristics that illuminate the human condition: loneliness and hope. Steinbeck’s characters almost rail against the futility of hope, and yet they are continuously sucked in by what it offers. Steinbeck also takes John Donne’s “No man is an island” to task and goes further to show that it is a miserable, wretched man who is alone in this wide world. Almost every character in the novel is lonely, or has seen it on the faces of the “bindle-stiffs” that roamed the country during the Great Depression, where the novel is set (in California), and was originally published in 1937. Other themes include the treatment of the mentally disabled, euthanasia, and Marxist and gender issues. Due to language many Christians find offensive, the book is one of the ALA Most Challenged Books of the 21st Century.(less)
Originally published in 1969, many critics lauded Vonnegut’s book as literary triumph. A strange post-modern novel that has often been categorized as...moreOriginally published in 1969, many critics lauded Vonnegut’s book as literary triumph. A strange post-modern novel that has often been categorized as a science fiction, every piece of the text is crafted specifically on purpose. Symbols abound in the novel, the main character Billy Pilgrim is an optometrist later in life, and a relative observer of the firebombing of Dresden during World War II. He lives in Ilium (Troy) New York, yet also becomes “observed” in a zoo by time travelling aliens, the Tralfamadorians. So what does Vonnegut want us to watch? (History?) The themes of this novel also include war, fate and free-will. This book was one of ALA Most Challenged Books of 1990-2000.(less)
An easy to see differences between LeGuin and the oft compared J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series: LeGuin is much more literary in her writing. LeGui...moreAn easy to see differences between LeGuin and the oft compared J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series: LeGuin is much more literary in her writing. LeGuin’s A Wizard of Earthsea is not just a magical entertaining romp, it has deeply seeded underpinnings in the understanding of one’s self, and the growth of youth into adults. An intricately woven tale, A Wizard of Earthsea is a timeless quest novel written in 1969, firmly establishing a tradition that can be credited to J. R. R. Tolkein. Fantasy has the ability to last without becoming dated, something that realistic YA fiction will suffer from in the long run.(less)
In the introduction to "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?", Roger Zelazny says, “[Dick] is a writer’s writer, rich enough in fancy that he can affo...moreIn the introduction to "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?", Roger Zelazny says, “[Dick] is a writer’s writer, rich enough in fancy that he can afford to throw away in a paragraph ideas another writer might build a book upon.” I couldn’t agree more. Dick is complex and literary, one of the great SF writers of our time. The film Blade Runner was loosely based upon this novel, but the book is a different animal entirely, steeped in religious themes and the degradation of society. Dick plays with Reality, and in several places causes the reader to pause and examine his/her own reality for what it is worth.(less)
For scholars and fantasy fanboys and fangirls alike, "Of Sorcerers and Men" was a fantastic audio experience. Professor Drout is so animated about his...moreFor scholars and fantasy fanboys and fangirls alike, "Of Sorcerers and Men" was a fantastic audio experience. Professor Drout is so animated about his subject that it is hard to not share his enthusiasm. Covering the history of the fantasy genre, Drout also explores the Tolkien imitators and reactionaries as well. A true gem. (less)