thought noir would be fun in a deliciously cheesy way. It may be filled with bad prose and talk of “dames” and “molls” but at least exciting. This, athought noir would be fun in a deliciously cheesy way. It may be filled with bad prose and talk of “dames” and “molls” but at least exciting. This, a classic noir, is boring stuff. And the writing wasn’t even the exaggerated nonsense that mock noir has led me to believe I would get. Instead it’s just flat-out giving-everyone’s-heights-and-build bad. And I wasn’t expecting strong females (this is from long ago) but the sexual harassment and flat-out sleaziness that Sam Spade gets away with is insane. He strip searches a woman as she's begging him that she doesn't want to. It’s creepy. Not that his attitude stops women throwing themselves at him. Along with the rampant sexism, there’s some racism and homophobia thrown in for good measure. Hurray! The mystery itself was muddled and boring. I didn’t know what was going on and frankly didn’t care. The only character I slightly enjoyed was the secretary. When she wasn’t draping herself across Spade she could be pretty sassy. ...more
I apologize to Mr. Shakespeare for not giving his sonnets five stars. He has some very good sonnets. But have you ever tried to sit down and just readI apologize to Mr. Shakespeare for not giving his sonnets five stars. He has some very good sonnets. But have you ever tried to sit down and just read them all? I suggest you don't. They get repetitive and kind of boring.
If I had read this with a professor, I probably would've loved it. There was a lot of nuance and symbolism that a casual reading won't catch. But, sadly Mr. Shakespeare, I can be impressed by your talent but I can't honestly say I enjoyed reading all your sonnets....more
Do you like unhappy, self-righteous white people who whine about their problems and blame everyone else? Do you like dully unlikeable narrators? Do yoDo you like unhappy, self-righteous white people who whine about their problems and blame everyone else? Do you like dully unlikeable narrators? Do you like Jonathan Franzen? If you said yes to all three, then this book is for you!
For some reason, John Updike's Rabbit series has received critical acclaim. I don't get it. There's nothing new or interesting or clever about what Updike says. Honestly, Rabbit, Run is the 1960s literary equivalent of Girls. They are both about whiny, irritating, self-indulgent people having quarter-century crises. Good to know it's not just the current generation. I don't know why this kind of character/story strikes a chord with critics, but it clearly does.
Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom should be an extraordinarily fascinating antihero. But he isn’t. He isn’t even deliciously upsetting in the way that Quentin “The Prick” Coldwater is. As a character he is as pathetic and low-grade irritating as he is as a person. He captures the aimless restlessness of a quarter-century American.
Harry is not meant for a stable life and is miserable after taking up the 1960s American expectation of marriage and children and a stable middle-class (working class? I don’t know what a salesman would put him at) job. If Harry were alive today, he would be that 20-something still living at home talking about the app he’s going to design that will make him rich.
Harry was the star basketball player in high school, and he is still searching for the excitement and rush and love that the experience gave him. The thing is – he will never find it. Harry is a man who is doomed to dissatisfaction. He is too self-destructive and completely lacks introspection. He is all id. No matter what he has, it won’t be enough. He doesn’t even know what he wants, but he runs head-long into the distance, sure that he will find it. And he will destroy everyone who comes into his path, thoughtlessly, carelessly, cruelly, because nothing is real to him except for his mindless search for satisfaction.
Harry is married to Janice, a troubled young woman looking for love and acceptance just like Harry. She never felt good enough for her mother; denied maternal love, she desperately seeks romantic love. Tragically, she decided on Harry to save her, which is like a drowning person trying to climb aboard a sinking ship. Since Harry’s human warmth couldn’t heat a butterfly, Janet ends up turning to alcohol to make herself feel better.
Harry is incapable of any real love or affection. He is a child who doesn’t understand that there are other people with their own, legitimate feelings. He doesn't understand that trying to dominate other people into getting whatever you want is not happiness. Examples of Harry's near-sociopathic belief that other people have no worth or value beyond what he wants from them:
(a) The first time Harry leaves his family, he shacks up with Ruth, a possible prostitute/chronic mistress. His first night with Ruth he sexually assaults her and follows her into the bathroom to prevent her from using birth control. Because birth control will lesson his sexual pleasure, and it doesn’t matter what Ruth wants.
(b) When Ruth eventually gets knocked up, Harry abandons both her and his child. Because this guy is a runner.
(c) Harry sexually assaults his wife. Days after Janice return home after giving birth – while she’s been given medical advice to not have sex – Harry tries to force himself on her. When she rebuffs his advances, he then attempts to rape her from behind.
(d) Harry thinks that his sexual assaults are a display of his love. That’s because he thinks love is possession and control.
(e) He leaves his children with their depressed, alcoholic mother. Because he doesn't want to deal with them.
Harry is a karma chameleon, and always escapes blame for his actions. Both Ruth and Janice forgive Harry for his unforgivable behavior and still believe they’re in love with him (they don’t know what love is).
The story is not helped by Updike's writing. Updike is generally a too talky writer with a tin ear for dialogue. It’s often overwrought and wooden. The writing feels like an old movie where the actors are self-consciously reciting their lines, their voices pitched as if they’re part of a stage play....more