A somewhat strange, odd little novel from the 2014 Nobel winner, Patrick Modiano. I honestly don't quite know what to make of this. Nor do I quite knoA somewhat strange, odd little novel from the 2014 Nobel winner, Patrick Modiano. I honestly don't quite know what to make of this. Nor do I quite know what the author fully intended to accomplish with the plot? Was it a murder mystery? Maybe...
Fortunately, it is a short little thing and a fast read. I also thought that the novel was well written, although I guess that is really a function of the translator's craft. Having said all of this though, I think I probably need to read it again sometime and see if I can figure out precisely what tale Modiano is trying to tell here.
So You Don't Get Lost in the Neighborhood gets 3 of 5 stars from me at this point in time. Also, I'd be interested in what others who've read this novel think....more
I picked up my first novel by 2014 Nobel prize winner, Patrick Modiano, the other day in Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, California. Modiano's After tI picked up my first novel by 2014 Nobel prize winner, Patrick Modiano, the other day in Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, California. Modiano's After the Circus is a short novella that is absolutely enchanting, and can be easily read in one sitting over an hour or so. While it is translated from French (by Mark Polizzotti), it is a brilliant little tale of first love couched in a mystery. The story takes place over a few days in Paris--the City of Light--during the 1960s. The characters of Jean, Gisele, Henri Grabley, and even Gisele's black lab are so well drawn that you can easily find yourself sitting in a cafe with them, or walking across one of the bridges over the Seine. This is the story of the hope of youth and its collision with the reality of Life. A truly beautiful little love story, with an almost noir-ish feel to it! Time to find some more Modiano to read!
Patrick Modiano's After the Circus gets 4 of 5 stars from me....more
Whew! Zola's Madeleine Ferat is the story of an obsessive and jealous love with horrifyingly tragic consequences. One thing I am learning about the fiWhew! Zola's Madeleine Ferat is the story of an obsessive and jealous love with horrifyingly tragic consequences. One thing I am learning about the fiction of Emile Zola is that he is the master of psychological drama and horror. Many authors are quite effective at describing the murder of one character by another, but Zola takes his reader deep into the twisted dark recesses within the human mind of his characters and allows the reader to observe the 'seeds of horror' as they are first planted, nurtured, and then as they burst darkly forth upon the novel's pages.
The relationship of Guillaume and Madeleine starts off well enough. Young man meets young woman, cohabitate for a period of time, inherit money and villa from father, get married, have a child--couldn't get any better, right? Not so fast my friend, not so fast. Madeleine is really, all in all, a pretty nice young woman who is becoming comfortable in her own skin and likes to have a good time. After she marries Guillaume she makes a horrific mistake--she tells her new husband about a sexual relationship she had with a man before she met her husband. Well, it turns out that this man was her husband's very best friend. Awkward!
I'm not at all sure that Zola's Madeleine Ferat could have been published in 1868 in either England or the United States. This is a racy novel that doesn't shy away from human sexuality and an incredibly realistic portrayal of the human emotions that lead the couple to spiral inexorably downward from the happy heights of marital bliss to the depths of outright madness and dark despair. This is a difficult and painful novel to read at times, but one that compels the reader to carry on, if only to see if Madeleine and Guillaume can pull out of the death spiral. But it is Zola after all.
Other authors in this period dealt with this sort of co-dependent and mutually assured self-destruction, including Thomas Hardy (Tess of the d'Urbervilles), or Anthony Trollope (He Knew He was Right), but for Zola it seems to be a prominent theme, at least in his early works of fiction.
This gets a solid 4 of 5 stars from me. Well worth reading....more
This is a helluva good story! This borders on Victor Hugo, it is rollicking, adventurous, and a real stem-winder from start to finish. There are villaThis is a helluva good story! This borders on Victor Hugo, it is rollicking, adventurous, and a real stem-winder from start to finish. There are villains, there are some really good characters, and there is some awesome history about France in the late-1840s. We have an elopement, pregnancy, a fortune up for grabs, espionage, and a revolution on the streets of Marseille. This is an early Zola and very much worthwhile reading. Now it is on to "Therese Raquin."...more
My first exposure to the fiction of Guy de Maupassant, and I loved this novel. M. Georges DuRoy (aka "Pretty Boy") is, simply put, one of the most monMy first exposure to the fiction of Guy de Maupassant, and I loved this novel. M. Georges DuRoy (aka "Pretty Boy") is, simply put, one of the most monstrous scoundrels I've encountered in fiction. He is right up in that thin air with Gilbert Osmond from Henry James' great novel, The Portrait of a Lady. DuRoy's cavalier treatment of his friends, family and all of the women in his life is all geared towards enriching himself both financially and in social status. There's a strong lesson in here for all of us, not only individually, but also collectively as a society.
I am looking forward to getting into Maupassant's short stories too, as I have heard that many of them are quite good. I read this edition of "Bel-Ami" on my Kindle Fire that was included in the "Delphi Classics Complete Works of Guy de Maupassant."...more
Update 9/11/2015--Just finished a reread of this on my Kindle. Upon a second reading, I find this an even more horrifying and monstrous tale. This isUpdate 9/11/2015--Just finished a reread of this on my Kindle. Upon a second reading, I find this an even more horrifying and monstrous tale. This is a psychological tour de force that describes, in intimate detail, the moral decay and depravity of both Therese and Laurent. Frankly, by the end of the novel you're really not sure who is 'dead' and who is 'living.' Also, it is probably a really good idea to make sure that you really know and trust those you get into a rowboat with.
February 1, 2014--This is a devastatingly powerful little novel. Over the past six months I have been slowly, but surely, winding my way through the macabre world that is the fiction of Emile Zola. I have always kind of viewed Zola as the 'father' of Naturalism, and Therese Raquin is a prime example. It surely is not hard to make the leap from France and Therese Raquin to the 'Wessex' countryside of Thomas Hardy and Tess of the d'Urbervilles.
There's a dirty, seamy, grimy feel to this novel...actually, come to think of it, to all of the Zola novels I've read so far. There is a side of human life and human nature that Zola wants to thrust right in your face and under your nose, and the reader can't help but feel and smell everything. And no matter how squeamish or sensitive we are, we can't help but keep reading...it is human nature, we want to see the murder occur, the trains collide, the adulterous pair get caught out. Zola is the novelist for the voyeur in each of us. Seriously scary shit here, folks!...more
I saw the movie with my wife recently and was completely enthralled. I immediately ordered the books and began reading. This is off-the-hook good stufI saw the movie with my wife recently and was completely enthralled. I immediately ordered the books and began reading. This is off-the-hook good stuff, folks! Lisbeth Salander is my hero! She is one of the most unique feminine fictional characters I think I've ever encountered, and I just love her to death! All I can say is read the book, see the movie, and just enjoy the pleasure of experiencing a truly great story on the printed page and on the big-screen. A real stem-winder of a mystery, and Lisbeth is simply priceless!...more
If anything, this second volume in Stieg Larsonn's 'Millenium' series was even better than the first book! This book really provides a lot more backstIf anything, this second volume in Stieg Larsonn's 'Millenium' series was even better than the first book! This book really provides a lot more backstory to the character of Lisbeth Salander, and makes me root for her even more. Once you get going on this book it becomes damned hard to put down. I have to say that I really think the translator (Reg Keeland) did a terrific job. Largely these first two books essentially feel like they were written in English. Are these great literature? Probably not, but they are well written and absolutely great fun to read, and Lisbeth Salander is one kick-ass heroine....more
I finished The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest this morning on the train to work. This was a terrific novel and may, in fact, have been the best booI finished The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest this morning on the train to work. This was a terrific novel and may, in fact, have been the best book of the entire series! I almost hesitate separating the three books as individual entities (especially the last two), as the story-line and characters pretty seamlessly flows from the first page through the last page. In my opinion, Larsonn's writing got better and better with each volume too (although that could also be a function of the translator as well). I very much enjoyed reading Larsonn's The Millennium Series; and because of Larsonn's untimely death it is a real pity that there may not be any more adventures of Lisbeth Salander to read....more
This was incredible! First of all, the story was told in the spare, sparse, and gritty language of Seamus Heaney's bilingual translation of the Anglo-This was incredible! First of all, the story was told in the spare, sparse, and gritty language of Seamus Heaney's bilingual translation of the Anglo-Saxon original. Second, the plot of this elegiac poem was absolutely epic. The horror of Grendel and his Dam was palpable; and the heroism of Beowulf and his spear-fellows timeless. Finally, the ability to carefully study Heaney's translation, alliteration, and interpretation and then compare it to the Anglo-Saxon was almost surrealistic. It was an amazing experience to have the ability to look at and study the root language of modern English.
My younger brother recommended the Heaney translation to me, and now I know why. This has become a poem I intend to visit, and revisit, many, many times in the years to come. From the perspective of my personal enjoyment of poetry, reading Beowulf has been transformative. Reading Beowulf has led me to go back and reinvestigate the ancient Icelandic poetry of the Poetic Edda (or "Elder Edda"), including the Volsungasaga. From epics like Beowulf and the Poetic Edda, it is abundantly clear what a profound influence these early writings have had on the literature of the English language.
In conclusion, I cannot believe that it has taken me this long to actually sit down and read this beautiful poem. All I can say is "Bravo!" "Bravo!" to the original eighth or ninth century poet, and to Seamus Heaney for his beautiful new presentation of this early treasure of the English language....more