Enjoyable read, but not quite the head trip of its billing. The way your allegiance as a reader shifts from character to character is fun, and the slo...moreEnjoyable read, but not quite the head trip of its billing. The way your allegiance as a reader shifts from character to character is fun, and the slowly cultivated sense of dread is intriguing, but by the time you get to the dirty secrets they just don't seem that dirty anymore. The rumination on violence and its justification are more interesting but I didn't feel they were full plumbed, or perhaps they were over my head. Maybe the half-reasonable violence was just a way to lead you to the point where the seemingly psychotic characters don't seem that psychotic. Many of the details about conversation and fancy dinners were acute and amusing, particularly the bit about TV and film being the last resort of an exhausted discussion (not sure that's universally true, but it's certainly happened to me). Since all the back cover blurbs seem to describe it as a thrilling beach read, I will say I enjoyed it way more than Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Much better writing for one. Lacking, however, in sandwiches.(less)
This is another of those left field (for me) Christmas entries on my reading list courtesy of my aunt. It doesn't start well: writing in the second pe...moreThis is another of those left field (for me) Christmas entries on my reading list courtesy of my aunt. It doesn't start well: writing in the second person rarely does, and when "you" are an elephant, well, you kind of feel like things might just go from bad to worse. But they don't! Once Donaghue stopped addressing me as a pachyderm, I began enjoying her nicely-wrought tails of vagrants in the New World. Each story in the collection fictionalizes a real person the author gleaned from historical accounts of various kinds, most from over 100 years ago, which adds a real thrill to the reading because Donaghue picked some zingers. How can these people have been real? She tries on a number of voices too, some of which work better than others, but none of which really detract from the experience. I was also very interested to find the afterword, where Donaghue actually talks about her own stories. When does that ever happen?
Now I'm even more compelled to read Room, despite it's lurid (yet current) subject matter.(less)
"A strange and traumatic experience," David Foster Wallace wrote in an essay on attending the Annual Adult Video News Awards, "which one of yr. corrs....more"A strange and traumatic experience," David Foster Wallace wrote in an essay on attending the Annual Adult Video News Awards, "which one of yr. corrs. will not even try to describe consists of standing at a men's room urinal between professional woodmen [male porn stars] Alex Sanders and Dave Hardman. Suffice it to say that the urge to look over/down at their penises is powerful and the motives behind this urge so complex as to cause anuresis (which in turn ups the trauma)." Aside from hinting at the hilarious absurdity with which Wallace analyzes everything from porn galas to lobster festivals to John McCain's Straight Talk Express, this passage nicely captures my emotional approach to this book: I'd heard this Wallace guy had a pretty big brain. Now I know he had a pretty big brain. Way bigger than mine. We'll see if the disparity affects my ability to, uh, write.
So he was smart. Every essay had something new for me, like how dictionaries are, unlike phone books, ideological and rhetorical in nature and therefore worthy of criticism, or how modern American novelists are embarrassed by articulating morals, and how that's a problem. Like I said, he was also funny. Aggravate-your-fellow-airplane-prisoner/patrons-with-constant-laughter funny. On top of all this, he seemed genuine, which is both forehead-smackingly sensible *and* impressive given his repeated inquiries into authenticity. Reading around I guess Wallace was well-known for being anti-ironic, but the effect on this reader was essentially the same quality Wallace himself lauds in the cornerstone piece in this collection, "Authority and American Usage": Wallace is ever-present in his own writing, and he earns his authority with wit, compassion, and some endearing absurdities (borrowing a leather jacket to be cool enough to report for Rolling Stone being my fave).
I liked his way of analyzing a subject by hanging out with people of tertiary significance. He didn't talk to John McCain, or John McCain's advisors. He hung out with the camera crews. Same with the porn awards: he spends most of his time talking to professional porn journalists (apparently that's a thing). Maybe this was his way of avoiding BS, like he didn't believe there was any hope of deriving genuine meaning about a person by actually speaking with them directly, but meaning could be triangulated through the perceptions of technicians and professionals who were not directly responsible for considering semantics (but did so all the same). In the case of John McCain that's a bit odd since the whole piece concerns the question of whether McCain actually means what he says, unlike every other politician in history.
Anyway, the more I try to think about the book the more the aforementioned metaphorical anuresis is kicking in. The book was unexpectedly magnetic, intellectually consuming, and totally compelling from start to finish. If you can stomach footnotes that have their own footnotes that are themselves then referenced in the main text, suggesting they were not actually that ancillary after all, then you should probably pick this up.
Words Oh man, so many great words.
satyriasis (n): uncontrollable sexual obsession in men. (p. 53) lallate (v): conventionally to replace your r's with l's, or to speak in a nonsensical baby fashion, but in the sense DFW intended here I guess it means calming, as in a lullaby, as described here. (p. 64) sprachgefuhl (n): sensitivity to linguistic propriety (p. 69) dysphemism (n): inserting an intentionally harsh word or phrase when a more neutral one would suffice, opposite of euphemism. Apparently never having encountered this word makes me NOT a SNOOT. (p. 70) solecism (n): linguistic goof, incorrect use of language. (p. 71 and everywhere in this essay) pertussion (n): coughing, though most dictionaries seem to list the word as "pertussis." (p. 71) styptic (adj): confining or binding in this case, but also used to describe substances that stanch bleeding. I almost wrote "staunch." If there's one word I'm going to remember from this book it's "solecism." (p. 80) spiriferous (adj): having spires. I hate words like this. (p. 42) anapest (n): two short syllables followed by one long, in this case "where's it at." Is "anapest" itself an anapest? (p. 99) trochee (n): long syllable followed by a short one. Why a "monosyllabic foot + trochee" is supposed to be uglier than a "strong anapest" is beyond me. (p. 99) pleonasm (n): excessive use of words to express something, in this cases leveled as a criticism against academic writing, which is somewhat absurd coming from DFW who is pleonastic in the extreme. (p. 115) immanent (adj): inherent, innate. (p. 151) luxated (adj): dislocated. (p. 151) prolegomenous (adj): introductory (p. 255) (less)
I admit I didn't get very far in this collection, but after several stories it became apparent the overarching theme was "depressing tales of depressi...moreI admit I didn't get very far in this collection, but after several stories it became apparent the overarching theme was "depressing tales of depressing Irish people." I'm not categorically opposed to the morose in fiction, but like any emotion its impact fades when delivered in monotone. I had the same problem with Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which might actually be the same book with a different accent.(less)
Following a brief, somewhat endearing exposition on the quirky Bigtree family and their gator-wrasslin' ways, this book descends into what, to me, fel...moreFollowing a brief, somewhat endearing exposition on the quirky Bigtree family and their gator-wrasslin' ways, this book descends into what, to me, felt like two conventional, uninteresting novels: Kiwi's farcical exploration of suburban teenage degeneracy (aka did you know people are uneducated and low-paying jobs crush souls?), and Ava's magical-realist-cum-whimsical-sexual-predation tale of swamp exploration. Nostalgia for the family life outlined at the start drives the two stories, but the nostalgia never felt earned. The Bigtrees were cool, I guess, but I wasn't in love with them, and Ava and Kiwi by themselves failed to exceed the tropes into which Russell dropped them. I suppose she was shooting for the five-minutes-of-the-sublime-intro-followed-by-60-minutes-of-whatever-exactly-happened-in-Up model (there was a talking dog, right?), but didn't pull it off. Kiwi's an out-of-place nerd. Ava's a dreamer in denial. I guess it was amusing enough for me to finish, but that was mostly due to a misplaced hope in a better next page.
How about this: instead of reading Swamplandia!, just watch that first segment of Up, then start reading The Lovely Bones while you have Idiocracy and Rescue Rangers playing on two separate monitors. I haven't even read The Lovely Bones but I have to believe it's more compelling than Osceola's dead guy crush and Ava's bewildering self-delusion about creepy old dudes in dirty black overcoats. Crime-solving rodents: now THAT's what discerning readers crave.(less)
Not my favorite book ever but it ended on a sweet note. It seems Egan has a thing for urban losers and nuclear families. The families are a nice antid...moreNot my favorite book ever but it ended on a sweet note. It seems Egan has a thing for urban losers and nuclear families. The families are a nice antidote to the losers, but the losers are still losers, making them somewhat annoying to accompany for the majority of a novel. In A Visit from the Goon Squad, the cast of losers rotated frequently enough to keep me from becoming mired in their loserdom, but not so in The Keep. Danny cares more about his boots and his phone his fellow human beings, considers mundane abilities like recognizing powerful people to be the hard-won rewards of a lifetime of experience, and when he reaches his climactic transformation, it doesn't feel believable. The Danny of several pages prior would have thrown a fit or gone catatonic. I doubt Egan considers Danny's experience to be the most significant component of the novel, but it's still the layer through which the reader must trudge for the majority.
Thankfully Egan provides more brain fodder than just her drug-addled losers and precocious kids. There's a strange dualism between connection and imagination at play that I'm struggling to interpret. "Connection" here is valued not for the things it connects but for itself. Danny doesn't seem to care who he calls, who left him voice messages, who knows he's alive, but rather that anyone does. His concept of "alto" is not really about understanding. As he says, "perspective, vision, knowledge, wisdom—those words were all too heavy or too light." It seems like a cheap sort of sensation to me, but accurately describes what I'm seeking when I desperately flip between social networking sites.
On the opposing side is Howard and the power of "imagination," or perhaps internalism, the ability to live without connection, to invent the components of life that are lacking. Howard's manifesto on the purpose of the hotel outlines the idea, but so does Holly's description of the purpose of her prison writing class, opening doors inside oneself and whatnot. On the whole the novel seems to consider this kind of storytelling ability to be redemptive (the entire Danny storyline is essentially Ray's way of surviving prison, or perhaps making sense of the events they describe), and we assume Holly's ultimate enactment of the imagined scene Ann described earlier in the book (diving into the warm pool) achieves the same rebirth. But Howard's obsession with this sensation seems almost as pathological as Danny's obsession with empty connection. (view spoiler)[It imperils his marriage, and eventually leads him to relive the single most terrifying event of this life. (hide spoiler)] I'm not sure there's a need to interpret this dualism in normative terms, but the characters seem to see it that way, so should we expect the author to take a side? As a novelist it seems like she's obviously in the imagination camp.
(view spoiler)[The ending, in which we realize that Ray is actually Mick and that Holly is an ex meth head with two beautiful kids was... enjoyable, but difficult to swallow whole. Reading about how perfectly in sync Holly and Ray were during the prison scenes was making me expect another flip in which we realized Ray was writing that section too, and I was a bit disappointed when things ended without tying everything back to a fabrication by Ray. (hide spoiler)]
Overall, if you haven't tried Egan I'd go with Goon Squad. Not sure I'd recommend this one.(less)
Read this long ago. Underneath Ware's visual intricacies are usually the same dull characters and depressing stories that typify adult indie graphic n...moreRead this long ago. Underneath Ware's visual intricacies are usually the same dull characters and depressing stories that typify adult indie graphic novels (I'm thinking Daniel Clowes, Adrian Tomine and the like), and this book is more of the same, except without the merciful brevity of, say, his contributions to the New York Times Magazine. The intricacies are pretty amazing though. Definitely worth perusing, but perhaps not worth purchasing.(less)
**spoiler alert** My sister wrote her senior thesis on this book, so I figured if I was going to stand half a chance at understanding but a quarter of...more**spoiler alert** My sister wrote her senior thesis on this book, so I figured if I was going to stand half a chance at understanding but a quarter of that thesis, I would have to read it. Still haven’t gotten to the thesis (80 pages Ak?! C’mon!), but I did finally polish off the book, and am not sorry that I did. Much like Middlemarch this book is packed with long, intricate, sometimes movingly ornate, oftentimes completely hilarious (and not in a self-conscious way), frequently ultranerdy sentences that somehow seem even more absurdly arcane/wonderful than other 19th century Brits. If Austen fired a word pistol, Elliot preferred the lexical two-decker broadside.
As with Middlemarch, Patrick O’Brian and Jane Austen did not prepare me to fully interpret a book of Deronda’s sweep and complexity, so my only real point of reference is Middlemarch itself. Like the characters in that book, most of the protagonists in Deronda struggle with deliberately crafting their own lives, but unlike the focus on vocation in Middlemarch, these characters seemed more concerned with morality. Deronda himself wasn’t seeking a job so much as a crusade, and Gwen spent almost the entire book watching her ego eroded by both circumstance and her husband only to find she barely even knew what good meant if it couldn’t mean pleasing herself. I suspect the fact that many of the protagonists had lost parents plays into this somehow, perhaps severing them from strong religious and cultural norms and forcing the characters to question and then assert moral positions. The Meyricks, the Gascoignes, Grandcourt, and perhaps Sir Hugo rarely seemed to question their own codes, whereas Gwen and Dan were constantly revisiting them. I guess that falls a part a bit with Mordecai and Mirah, but perhaps we just met Mordecai long after he’d settled many of these internal debates (he certainly had a code, albeit a long-winded possibly delusional one).
Ultimately I found Gwen to be the most interesting and appealing character, mostly because I’m a traditionalist and I like it when characters change in profound but believable ways (yes, Ak, I’m am looking forward to reading about how narrative is just a myth Elliot was trying to lay bare with this book, or something, right?), and Gwen went from back-of-the-hand-cackling-anime-villainess to having her will entirely crushed. She was the only appealing character with any wit in the book (I wasn’t a fan of Hans, and Daniel’s mom, while awesome, was really just a guest star). Actually, part of the tragedy for me was seeing that verve brought down not just by Grandcourt’s weird dominance, but also by her submission to Deronda’s moral authority. Gwen’s smart, willful, and clearly possesses the kernel of morality in her love for her mother. Why can’t she figure this shit out herself?!
I found Deronda himself a bit boring. He was always good and always right. Dull. Keeping with the anime theme, he was just sad Pikachu, all the time. The way his constant deliberation always seemed to border on passivity bugged me too. His public attitude was more like Grandcourt's than anyone else’s, even though his inaction was usually due to deliberation rather than indifference.
Anyway, long but good, glad I read it. Bring on the thesis.
Oh, and you know there were words:
prebendary (n): a stipend given to a clergyman from the revenues of a church or cathedral. (p. 33) fidus Achates: in the Aeneid, Achates was Aeneus's bff. (p. 37) euphonious (adj): sounding good. (p. 43) spoony (adj): foolish, silly, particularly when in love. It always drove me nuts that this was in the Scrabble dictionary, but I guess it does have meaning beyond "of or pertaining to a spoon" (p. 58) antigropelos (n): waterproof leggings for riding or walking, aka spatterdashes. (p. 70) burthen (n): archaic form of burden, which is pretty obvious, but I don't recall this word coming up so much with other 19th century authors. (p 90 and just about every other page in the book) monody (n):: a solo lament. (p. 90)
"It was impossible to be jealous of Juliet Fenn, a girl as middling as mid-day market in everything but her archery and her plainness, in which last she was noticeably like her father: underhung and with receding brow resembling that of the more intelligent fishes."
Amazing how cruel and bigoted she could be. Ak tells me she believed in physiognomy. (p. 121)
uncial (n): a form of all-caps (or majuscule) script that is very rounded. Now, what exactly Elliot meant by handwriting "of the delicate kind which used to be esteemed feminine before the present uncial period" I have no idea. Did people write in all-caps all the time in her day?
perrugue (n): alt. form of peruke, which is a man's wig from the 17th and 18th centuries. (p. 179)
"...impaling the three Saracens' heads proper and three bezants of the one with the tower and falcons argent of the other..." Only now that I am looking things up do I realize she was talking about heraldry. Behold, a Saracen's head, bezants, and falcons argent. I was very, very disappointed to learn that Saracens bear no relation to the genus of carnivorous pitcher plants, Sarracenia, which were apparently named after an 18th century botanist named Michel Sarrazin. How does that even work?! (p. 180)
"But for God's sake, keep an English cut, and don't become indifferent to bad tobacco!" Sir Hugo Mallinger's advice to Danny Boy on learning that the latter wishes to go abroad. Another winning epitaph. I'm gonna need, like, 30 graves when I die. (p. 200)
"I could not bear memories any more: I could only feel what was present in me – it was all one longing to cease from my weary life, which seemed only a pain outside the great peace that I might enter into." I found this conclusion to Mirah's autobiography somewhat remarkable for the extent dedicated to her thoughts of suicide. Granted I haven't read that broadly, but I don't recall many 19th century brits dwelling on suicide too much, particularly in protagonists. (p. 241)
"The self-delight with which she had kissed her image in the glass had faded before the sense of futility in being anything whatever – charming, clever, resolute – what was the good of it all?" And in addition to suicide, we have all this depression, not just sadness but an acute sensation of pointlessness. (p. 248)
"Outsiders might have been more apt to think..." This paragraph is just hilarious: essentially about the triumph of personality over physicality, it just descends into this pedantic mess about the Odyssey, which she concludes by admitting that the Odyssey was just a terrible analogy. Oh George Elliot. This whole chapter is just amusing for being the only traditionally romantic passage in the entire book ("I am afraid of nothing but that we should miss the passing of our lives together." Queue the Tchaikovsky). Kind of like she was saying, "Look, I will give you guys one happy romance. One. Ok? But it will only last a single chapter. A short chapter. And I am going to talk about the Odyssey." (p. 259)
chignon (n): style of hair where the hair is tied in a knot or bun at the back of the head or the nape of the neck. Never knew this had a name. Definitely better than "cockernonnie" and "cock-up." (p. 358)
"...that mania of always describing one thing while you were looking at another..." My God I hate this, and I am always catching myself about to do it, particularly while eating. The only motivations I can think of are to belittle the present meal, thereby making everyone consider it inferior, or boast about your own taste, both of which seem horrible. (p. 461)
cynosure (n): something that attracts attention. Constantly forgetting this word. (p. 487)
"What sort of earth or heaven would hold any spiritual wealth in it for souls pauperized by inaction?" It seems ridiculous that Deronda would deliver this line, as he is almost entirely inert for half of the book. (p. 499)
persiflage (n): banter (p. 512)
caliginous (adj): misty, dark. (p. 512)
Melusina: a figure in Celtic and northern European legend, beautiful woman above the waist, serpent below, but apparently only on Saturdays. (p. 689)
murrain (n): another infectious cattle disease. (p. 707)
Supralapsarian (n): honestly even after reading the Wikipedia article I have no idea what this really means, and Hans' joke is sadly lost on me. Absurd doctrinal stances like this just make me think of Life of Brian. (p. 712) (less)
Like a lot of people I was wowed by the movie rendition last summer, so I bought the book as a gift this Christmas, but, having found a more appropria...moreLike a lot of people I was wowed by the movie rendition last summer, so I bought the book as a gift this Christmas, but, having found a more appropriate book just down the road, decided I'd just keep it for myself. Heartily glad I did, too, because this was a joy to read. Woodrell's writing is flowing, studded with unexpected words that sound true and survive the dictionary ("a slow wamble across a rankled field" on p. 184, for instance), and the dialogue is predominantly the sort of half-antiquated jumbling of American English and King James that might be real somewhere but that I always associate with affected, hyperdramatized post-post-post-modern pop Americana like Firefly and True Grit, which is my way of saying that I love the dialogue.
A guy in a noodle shop saw me reading this and asked if I was going to see the movie, and I told him I already had, and he said, "Huh, usually it's the other way around." I don't really see it that way for books in which I'm not already invested (e.g. Harry Potter). In this case, both the original and the movie interpretation are excellent, and contribute different things to the whole. Both feature the amazing spoken language, but Woodrell's prose is a worthy thing unto itself. Strangely, he also evokes the landscape with more vibrancy than I recall from the movie, the dripping ice, the frigid air, the bare and deep hardwood forest, pocked with boulders. The movie, on the other hand, brought to light other interesting things, like the strict customs about being invited into someone's home, and the intrinsic nature of music in the culture of the Ozarks.
Well worth checking out. Looking forward to trying more from this author.(less)
I’m slowly, slowly realizing that the novels I like leave me feeling a) happy, b) sad, and c) confused, and the ones I don’t simply evoke boredom or d...moreI’m slowly, slowly realizing that the novels I like leave me feeling a) happy, b) sad, and c) confused, and the ones I don’t simply evoke boredom or disappointment. A Visit from the Goon Squad landed solidly in the happy-sad-confused camp. Quick summary: great characters, fragmented pseudo-narrative, much to say about time and the depredations thereof, very interesting incorporation of social networking concepts into narrative structure and the changing nature of memory. Read it. I am talking to you.
(view spoiler)[I’m going to start with the structure as that seems easiest to articulate (someone please make fun of my Mindy-like "structure" obsession). I think Egan uses the online social network as the organizing principle of the book: each chapter features characters tangentially related to those in the previous one, and all the characters connect and reconnect over time and space in much the way we do on social networking sites, where these kinds of weak ties obtain new and greater kinds of value (e.g. cool links posted by “friends” who aren’t your friends anymore, semi-random but relevant content emerging from distant edges of your network). Yes, social networks existing before Facebook and Twitter et al, but I think the relevant thing here is the focus on the loose connections.
There’s also the fragmented, multiple-perspective, somewhat non-linear storytelling that has become so common in books and film over the past decade as to be considered a trope (I know I read an article about this at one point, possibly this one). In some sense, stories like these either lack a master narrative or involve the reader in reconstructing the master narrative as part of the experience (although sometimes the nature of the underlying story is just plain laid out at the end). In a book full of characters who are striving to define or redefine themselves, I think this structural focus on assembling the pieces is kind of cool: the reader is also struggling to define how all the stories connect, and what the whole story really is.
Of course, there’s also a way to see the entire book as being about Sasha. She’s the most connected node, and gets the most chronological coverage, from precocious child to teenage runaway to reforming college kid to klepto adulthood to stable motherhood. Her story is first, and she is remembered last. I think this is part of what makes the book so satisfying to me, that all the complicated networking and time jumping and fragmentation ultimately describe (or perhaps disguise) a traditional story arc of a protagonist who struggles but eventually finds a kind of happiness (in PowerPoint).
Ok, so, content. The book is very much about time and memory, from the Proust excerpts that lead off to the concluding sentence. Most of the characters are constantly plagued by memories of their past (kissing nuns, brainwashing wives, disastrous parties), and indeed, “Time’s a goon, right? Isn’t that the expression?” (p. 96). Many characters seem to be trying to escape from time itself (Lou and Sasha seem to lie about their age, or at least delude themselves; everyone is constantly on drugs), and it even seems like the crucial element of the PowerPoint chapter (which is completely awesome, btw), where Sasha’s son’s autistic obsession over extended pauses in songs culminates with her explanation,
“The pause makes you think the song will end. And then the song isn’t really over, so you’re relieved. But then the song does actually end, because every song ends, obviously, and THAT. TIME. THE. END. IS. FOR. REAL.”
Anxiety over time, and time stopping in death, hoping that it can be escaped while knowing that it can’t.
I think another important time-related theme is that the past is becoming harder to escape, at least in part due to technology. Rhea marvels over Bennie’s ability to “find almost anyone on a computer” (p. 65) when he assembles his high school friends to bid farewell to Lou on his deathbed, and Bix the mid-90s computer whiz claims, “The days of losing touch are almost gone” (p. 152). Perhaps Lou’s life is intended as an example of this, since he’s the oldest character and perhaps representative of a former set of problems: in the 70s Africa story and to a lesser extent in the 1979 Bay Area story, Lou lives in the now and lives pretty hard, but when he’s dying in the late 90s, the memory of his son’s suicide still plagues him, while his old groupies can still give him solace. I don’t know, maybe this isn’t the best point. If that was the case, I feel like Lulu (Dolly’s daughter) and Allison (Sasha’s daughter) and maybe even the Pointers would have been some kind of opposite extreme, but that didn’t seem to be the case.
Anyway, I think I’m done brain-vomitting. There were actually almost no interesting words in this entire book (!) so no vocab list, though I absolutely loved the neologisms in the last chapter, like “word casings” (words that have been distorted past their original meanings outside of quotation marks, like “friend” and “real”), atavistic purism (AP), ethical ambivalence (EA), etc. (hide spoiler)](less)
One sentence summary: this is a book of tropes (coming-of-age, (pre-)midlife crisis, and buried-secrets-come-back-to-haunt) that muddles around in an...moreOne sentence summary: this is a book of tropes (coming-of-age, (pre-)midlife crisis, and buried-secrets-come-back-to-haunt) that muddles around in an amusing but digressive fashion for hundreds of pages before attempting to say something about finding meaning in a meaningless Universe. Namely, that one should try to do so. Crap, that was two.
Honestly, several days after finishing it I just don’t feel motivated to make my normal analytical effort. I enjoyed several turns of phrase (“twiddling his thumbs computatively”). I laughed almost every time Mario laid down some of his profane, contractionless, genital-laden braggadocio. I wondered at Carl’s bestial, moronic internal monologue. But I kind of doubt I’ll remember this book in a year. Definitely fun to read, though possibly not if you can find nothing humorous in what passes for wit among teenage boys. There are adults too, but they are largely annoying and/or less humorous, with the exception of the Automator.
Many fine words, though.
tintinnabulate (v): to ring like a small bell (p. 12) corposant (n): aka St. Elmo's Fire, which is a naturally occurring atmospheric phenomenon in which objects can appear to glow in an electrical field, and not, sadly, a giant fire-breathing Sesame Street agent of God's will. (p. 116) rubicund (adj): red (p. 163) distrait (adj): distracted, abesnt-minded (p. 267) epicene (adj): both male and female, though apparently also used to connote femininity unbecoming a man. (p. 277) lambent (adj): light, delicate. (p. 375) omphalos (n): navel, or central point. (p. 384) tenebrous (adj): dark. Tenebrionid beetles make more sense now. (p. 435)
"The point is that life isn't a quest, Howard. And it's not the kind of fire you can take your hand out of. You need to accept that, and start dealing with it." (p. 495) One of the book's main points, laid out pretty plainly. Particularly relevant for me in my state of post-Avatar withdrawal (I made the mistake of buying the DVD). (less)
I tried this in college after enduring an entire semester of my friend ranting about its awesomeness. After 100 pages of alternating boredom and confu...moreI tried this in college after enduring an entire semester of my friend ranting about its awesomeness. After 100 pages of alternating boredom and confusion I asked my friend if it was going to change. He said no. I closed the book. Still don't understand why Pynchon is supposed to be so amazing. Then again, I like reading about telepathic elves who ride wolves.(less)