I’ll preface this review by saying that I am a big Bradbury fan and really love his work. As much as it is difficult to criticize the creative mind ofI’ll preface this review by saying that I am a big Bradbury fan and really love his work. As much as it is difficult to criticize the creative mind of Bradbury, these stories didn’t quite gel as much as I had hoped. They weren’t as fully developed as some of Bradbury’s other collections of work, and there was a slightly campy feel to them. The collection of stories in The Illustrated Man is not up to par with, say, the much superior collection in Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, which not only have a cohesive feel to them and have depth and power, but move chronologically so they fit together.
The concept of “The Illustrated Man” is introduced in the preface: a man covered in tattoos, each tattoo an illustration revealing a tale. While the opening piques our interest in this unusual and bizarre character, this is only a means to set up the collection. The Illustrated Man never makes an actual appearance in the stories.
As a whole, the stories were a bit lacking in many cases, truth be told. Most have the theme of space exploration, with a few here and there that have odd or dark subject matter just as invasions, doomsday, or other odd happenings or occurrences.
Here are a few highlighted stories:
The collection opens with “The Veldt”, a story where two spoiled children live in a nursery where scenes are simulated and projected. The scene that continually is projected is that of a pack of lions in Africa. The parents worry that this could be dangerous.
“The Other Foot”, the third in the collection, deals with racial segregation and has definitely a twist and a moral about this theme.
A rather odd one in the mix was “The Exiles”, in which literary figures are in sort of a “dead zone” on Mars. Humans are burning books on Earth, and as they burn an author’s book, the author also “burns up” as well, disappearing. It was interesting to read the dialogue with Poe, Blackwood, and others as they are on Mars awaiting the arrival of the humans. There are some tie ins to Farhenheit 451 in this story.
One of my favorites in the group was “Marionettes, Inc.”, which definitely has a Twilight Zone flavor to it. This story is darkly comic: an underground company produces robots to act as surrogates, or stand ins, for humans. With such human-like capabilities, the robot can stand in for the human so they don’t have to deal with their spouse. The human, now, can do other things, like take a trip or go fishing while the robot stays with the wife or husband. However, what if the robot was a little too human?
Many of these stories have twisted endings, quite on par with the aforementioned The Twilight Zone. There are some dark and ironic elements definitely in the collection, and many stories have a rather bleak feel to them, death a common denominator. Some stories seem to end quite inconclusively, quite suddenly, and opened ended. While I loved the imagination and creativeness of the concepts in the stories, I wish the stories were a little more fleshed out.
The Illustrated Man, while uneven, is not a bad collection, but I still think that you can’t go wrong with The Martian Chronicles if you are looking for stories that are Bradbury in vintage sci-fi mode. ...more
**spoiler alert** So, I had heard all of the rumors about how depressing this book is, and they are apparently all true.
I think, though, that Wharton**spoiler alert** So, I had heard all of the rumors about how depressing this book is, and they are apparently all true.
I think, though, that Wharton can really write wonderfully, and this shows in many places. The tragic build up impending is juxtaposed nicely with the beautiful scenery and landscape. Ethan Frome has a serious problem, and it’s all in the name of love. You see, he’s in love with his wife’s cousin, Mattie. His wife, Zeena, is a bit of a shrew, perhaps even a slight hypochondriac. And she knows something is up. But Ethan, poor Ethan. All he can think of is Mattie. There is so much internal struggle that eats at him, as he longs for true love. Is there a way they can be together?
I think there is a beauty in this story to a degree. But, I had a couple of problems that made this just a so-so read. One, there was not enough in the way of what it is exactly that made these two fall for each other. Did it just magically happen? There is quite a bit of subtlety in the text, that I get, but a little more into the whys of Ethan’s passion for Mattie might have been better. (But, then again, I guess love needs no explanation…..sigh). And two, the main beef I had with the whole book was the ending. I mean, why? And I’m not talking about the idea behind it, but rather the method. Aren’t there easier ways to pull this off? I guess there is some symbolism to take from this scene, but it just seemed a little odd. The last scene was a little bizarre as well, and in total, the final stages of this book just leaves a reader rather cold.
My recommendation is, if you read Ethan Frome, make sure you balance it out by reading a very light-hearted book alongside it, perhaps something humorous. Try to find some happy time. ...more
Alex Roth, a disillusioned fiddle player, hitches a ride from the East to sunny Los Angeles with the hopes of seeing hiSometimes life takes a detour.
Alex Roth, a disillusioned fiddle player, hitches a ride from the East to sunny Los Angeles with the hopes of seeing his girl, Sue, and maybe even getting a gig as a player in a band. However, things don’t always pan out how you expect, and things go really awry very quickly when Haskell, the man who offered him the ride, suddenly dies on route to Hollywood. In a panic with evidence pointing to him, Alex is in quite a pickle. Panic stricken, confused, Roth’s journey to Hollywood might be a little more suspenseful than he had hoped or expected….
In Detour, the narrative shifts back and forth from Alex’ and Sue’s vantage point, so we see the action from here and can get inside their heads and their thoughts as the plot unfolds. As Alex is up to his head in troubles of various types, he questions the laws of Fate quite often; we shift to Sue, who has her own disillusionment to work out, hers being in the Hollywood form. There is a well-done critique and criticism of the “Hollywood scene”—the games, the shams, the ultimate phoniness. Oftentimes Alex and Sue take a break in their narration to give us their own take and philosophy on life and its hopes and disappointments, and this helps us understand their character a little more. Still, I found some of their “inner musings” to be a little naïve and silly, especially from Sue when she trying to work out her feelings about love.
There were some aspects of Detour that didn’t quite add up. For starters, there were some pretty wild coincidences thrown in the plot that were a little hard to swallow. These moments propelled the plot forward, yes, but also were a tad unbelievable. Secondly, there were some points at which high tension was lessened because the action in a scene happened too suddenly or just “out of the blue” with zero build up.
That being said, there are some nice twists that really can throw you off and keep you on the edge. When Alex picks up a young woman hitching, Vera , things take off at rapid pace….
There are some classic jabs that Alex and Vera throw at each other: Vera: “I know. But life is a ball game. You have to take a swing at whatever comes along before you wake up and find you’re struck out.” Alex: “I bet you read that somewhere.” Or… “She didn’t appear to be bluffing and I was frightened. Those eyes of hers were cold. She wasn’t playing poker.”
The action moves fast and overall, despite some bumps in the road, Detour builds to an unpredictable conclusion.
There is also a film that became a noir classic from 1945, a nice companion piece to Goldsmi ...more
I read this story at least once a year, and it never fails to impress. I always am reminded that I need to seek out and find more Ambrose Bierce storiI read this story at least once a year, and it never fails to impress. I always am reminded that I need to seek out and find more Ambrose Bierce stories.
"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" has several things working for it. Not only it is a story that is rich in both symbolic and allegorical quality, but there is a surreal aspect of realism versus fantasy that are constantly at odds within the framework of point of view. In it's bare essence, the story tells of a planter, Peyton Farquhar, who has been found guilty of treason during the Civil War, and thus is subject to hang. The story is told in three parts, and in each, Bierce uses not only different narrative techniques, but focuses on different elements of time and visual cues. As the story is not linear, it is key to focus on various imagery and foreshadowing within the three parts. The story begins with Farquhar facing the rope in Part 1, with his accusers there keeping eye with rifles in hand. What Bierce does such an amazing job of is getting inside Farquhar's head and slowing down time. Part 2 is a flashback to what Farquhar did to be subject to hanging in the first place, and Part 3 takes us a different journey altogether.
What is amazing is how much attention to detail is in this story. It is one that can be read so many times, with the reader catching new details or ideas that they had missed on the previous reading. Bierce also really is clever in his twists, and sense of foreshadowing. I think there is a very thoughtful and introspective theme embedded in this story too, but to reveal would really be a huge spoiler. Very deep in symbolic and literal meaning, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge is a story that really packs a punch.
If you haven't read this one, check it out! ...more
“Now, something new unsettling seemed to be going on with baseball—or with the men who played it.”
There are enough dubious and shady characters in Ga“Now, something new unsettling seemed to be going on with baseball—or with the men who played it.”
There are enough dubious and shady characters in Game of Shadows to fill an old Western or vaudeville melodrama. These aren't fictional characters, though.
The explosion of the “steroid era” in baseball came into prime focus soon after the homerun explosions in the late 90s, culminating in the epic Mark McGwire—Sammy Sosa 1998 homerun race and then finally Barry Bonds’ chase for history soon after. Clearly, looking at those baseball moments now a decade and some change later, though, those “historic” moments have become more infamous than famous, more detrimental than momentous. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the claims in the book, it is certain to draw a reaction, and it has certainly put a dark cloud over the notion of the “clean” athlete. I’m sure many, if not all, baseball enthusiasts have heard of Game of Shadows, and they now that it sheds light on a steroid scandal that not only tainted the grand old game, but also opened our eyes to other sports where PED (Performance Enhancing Drugs) have become a story, most notably the Olympics.
Game of Shadows is apparently well-researched and quite informative, however it wasn’t an altogether compelling—or pleasant-- read in large portions of the book. I felt like there was often way too much back story and exposition to lead into many of the chapters, and some ideas and claims made were quite repetitive and non-essential (You can only say Bonds is a jerk so many different ways….I get it….sheesh) There are some sections, and big chunks of chapters, that you can literally skip, then pick up the next chapter without much of a hitch. For me, the latter chapters, where it focuses on the build up to key investigations in Balco (the company responsible for providing the PEDs) and Bonds, as well as the players’ testimonies, were far more compelling than some of the early chapters.
Ten years after its release, Game of Shadows has prominence because it threw into the spotlight the notion many a baseball fan, or sports fan, yours truly included, didn’t want to readily acknowledge and admit: that cheating in sports does exist. The book is definitely a discussion piece. Ten years later, baseball is still trying to clean up its image. Not that baseball is the only guilty party, though.
‘…But how did he leave? How did he escape? If no trap, no secret door, no hiding place, no opening of any sort is found…’
I really enjoyed this. I did‘…But how did he leave? How did he escape? If no trap, no secret door, no hiding place, no opening of any sort is found…’
I really enjoyed this. I did take a bit to get into at the beginning, but I felt fully invested in this mystery. If you like intricate mysteries from the early 20th century, or something in the vein of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Wilkie Collins, you will probably appreciate and enjoy The Mystery of the Yellow Room.
So, everyone knows about The Phantom of the Opera, but many have not ventured into reading another Gaston Leroux solid work, The Mystery of the Yellow Room. For my money, there is nothing like a locked-room mystery that keeps a reader intrigued and guessing. And we have that here. The mystery begin with an attempt on a young lady’s life. Mathilde Strangerson, daughter of scientist Professor Strangerson, is attacked and left for dead. She lay unconscious, and unable to communicate or identify who did this. However, intriguingly enough there appears to be no way the perpetrator could have entered or exited the room.
Our narrator, Jean Sinclair, introduces us to a notable and ambitious young journalist, Joseph Rouletabille, who is interested in this baffling mystery and begins to investigate and begins to reconstruct the crime scene and the moments before, during and after the attack. In hopes of not only solving how this was committed, he hopes to identify the assailant. One aspect that adds to this mystery are the bevy of possible suspects that could have done this deed. Rouletabille, amateur sleuth, tries to uncover every stone in solving this case.
I liked how Leroux presents this mystery using various methods—point of view, flashback, newspaper clippings, interviews, accounts from various characters. It gives an extra dimension to the puzzle, and allows the reader to assume the role of an outside observer also trying to figure out this case. There are so many different angles taken, and it finishes with a dramatic scene and big reveal.
A solid and fascinating detective mystery here! ...more
Mike Ballard is a “tough as nails” lieutenant who doesn’t mind being a little unclean if it can get him a little extra on the side. But now, even hisMike Ballard is a “tough as nails” lieutenant who doesn’t mind being a little unclean if it can get him a little extra on the side. But now, even his own department is turning on him, investigating his “unethical” methods and possible infractions.
It seems that a poor mug named Earl Walker is in the big house, apparently for homicide. And unless someone can prove he didn’t murder Ruby Venuto, he might be going to the other Big House, the one in the sky. He seeks out Ballard, but Ballard could care less, and is cynical enough to know that these convictions don’t overturn themselves. However, Ballard sings a different tune once he meets Peggy Walker, Earl’s wife….So, what happens when a crooked lieutenant starts doing the right thing?
With Ballard as our personal narrator, he is honest (and brutal) enough to “tell it like it is”, so I think this definitely gives Forgive Me, Killer a bit of a gritty and hard edge to it, as Ballard doesn’t sugarcoat anything. In his quest to find out the truth about Venuto’s murder, the plot gets thicker as Ballard goes deeper into seedier places and has experiences with less-than-holy types. However, this type of mission is right up Ballard’s alley.
Overall, Forgive Me, Killer is a decent thriller, the pace is swift and the tension mounts as Ballard finds himself in a bit of dilemma (in more ways than one), especially in the book’s final stages. That being said, I found certain points of the plot a bit of a stretch and convenient for our hero (or perhaps antihero is more apt) and the romantic interest (with Peggy Walker) not only distracting, but forced and contrived.
Not bad, an easy and quick read and look forward to finding more from this author.
As a side note, this vintage edition has a nice introduction from Whittington and he discusses his love for writing and some of the origins of how he got started. Pretty interesting stuff. ...more
I think the best thing about this book is simply the samples of essays/writings for the various prompts. It might have been better to devote two separI think the best thing about this book is simply the samples of essays/writings for the various prompts. It might have been better to devote two separate books to the AP Language and the AP Literature writing components, as they are quite extensive. The book does a decent job covering some prompts that are representative of what an AP student might see for the three different types of essays, but it could have gone into more depth. There are some "warm up" activities, which are reviews for rhetorical devices, modes of writing, annotations, etc. I like the nifty chapter on writing a conclusion, as many of these books do not much serious focus to that aspect of the essay. Overall, not too bad of a resource for the AP student. ...more
I found The Martian to be an underwhelming experience.
Some have compared it to the 1999 film Cast Away with Tom Hanks. We’ll, just as a comparison, I found The Martian to be an underwhelming experience.
Some have compared it to the 1999 film Cast Away with Tom Hanks. We’ll, just as a comparison, I’ll just say that Cast Away has some power and emotional depth. It is syrupy and sentimental at points, but you come to emphasize with a guy who has to figure out how to survive, who loses quite a bit in the process of being stuck on the island. There is a remoteness, vastness and sense of isolation at being so far removed from humanity that is captured. Not so in The Martian. Here, in The Martian, everything seems choreographed. In The Martian, I felt no such vibe with the main character, who comes across as trying to be funny and cutesy in his journals rather than giving you the feeling that this is a desperate situation, or even talking about what Mars looks like. Instead, he is busy being brilliantly witty and smart. It comes to read more like a series of Twitter posts rather than anything Earth-shaking (okay, poor choice of words).
I found the writing, especially the dialogue and just the voice of the characters, to be lazy and clichéd. I felt like it was a generic Hollywood movie script at points. The characters are devoid of emotion, and come across as cardboard cutouts interchangeable with one another. Moreover, the characters are either annoying or bland and you really don’t care one way or another about their fate..well, at least I couldn’t. I couldn’t get invested in the main character’s dilemma mainly because he was unlikable and arrogant and because he didn’t worry too much about his vacation..err…dilemma on Mars.. too much either. His psychological state should have been a bit more fragile, but he treats his situation quite light-hearted, like he is sending texts to Earth or something while chuckling. If you can’t get invested in a character, any of them, then really the book falls on its face. In terms of the dialogue, it is a big fail. In fact, a lot of the dialogue was just “yeah we need to blah blah blah…(random cuss word)….and if we don’t blah blah blah…” “Oh yeah, well (random cuss word) off.”
It’s weird how this book is marketed sometimes as a survival story because it had zero feel of a survival story. Nothing. Zip.
Normally I would appreciate—and love-- some nerdy science in a science fiction, just to give a little bit more credibility, dimension, and weight to the plot. Here the science has the opposite effect: cumbersome, overbearing, and painful. I guess I was hoping a little less Encyclopedia Britannica. However, in The Martian, we are literally overwhelmed to the point that far surpasses tedium. Way too technical and reads like an instructional manual.
The main character is the weakest point of this book. His blogs read like “I did this, then I did that..then this, then that…science..science…haha....(random cuss word)…Wow, I’m an idiot. Wow, I’m incredible because I figured it out. Yay…(lame joke). Moreover, he's as annoying as can be.
There is little to no investment in the complexity of being stuck on a remote planet; instead, it is more “yay” and college humor. Sorry, but that is so lame and does a disservice to all good science fiction books out there.
Furthermore, there is nothing that drew me to this story at all as there was little to no psychological tension or build up at all. Nor was there anything gripping, nail biting, or any other adjective used to describe the book on the back cover. It was just all so generic and flat. In fact, I’d hardly call this science-fiction. The whole book seems anticlimactic, with little to no tension, or sense of danger or suspense. There is no sense of isolation or desolateness at all from Mark’s perspective, and the minor characters are all just moving parts that open up their mouths and say things every now and then, throw in random cuss words, and then move to a predicable conclusion. It is written more like a smart-allecky series of reddit posts with a bunch of random characters just saying words. Probably the only scene done with a shred of emotional pull was the back story about how Mark gets stuck there on Mars in the first place, which interestingly, is inserted in the middle of the book. Other than that, the book had about emotional pull as a Michael Bay film. This book to me was vacuous, generic, empty and devoid of anything remarkable. I was so let down by the book based on all the hype and word of mouth. In short, this was never the book I had imagined it to be.
Great premise, underwhelming writing, tone and characters. Overrated, by all means. ...more
There’s a strong drive and passion in many of the characters in A Streetcar Named Desire. A definite rawness in emotion and complexity is within manyThere’s a strong drive and passion in many of the characters in A Streetcar Named Desire. A definite rawness in emotion and complexity is within many of the scenes and situations.
I had read A Streetcar Named Desire once before, but never really caught on at how so much is working underneath the surface of the dialogue. In many estimations, Blanche is a character deeply rooted in pathos and tragedy. Her vision of what the world should be, as opposed to what it truly is, is at the center of her unhinging. Arriving to her sister’s apartment in New Orleans, she has taken a leave of absence from her teaching, and there are more undercurrent issues that have taken hold of her, most notably losing Belle Reve, their childhood home. At her opposite, Stanley, Stella’s husband, represents the brute, harsh, realities of the world.
I think that, in many respects, Williams creates an intensity that builds as the play moves forward until the dramatic final scene. There is a power in Stanley and Blanche’s confrontations, especially in the final scenes as we learn more and more about Blanche’s past. These moments are written so eloquently, so human, clearly by someone who has experienced, witnessed, and reflected on the impact of human sufferings and failings. In short, clearly Williams was a man who could project real human situations into dialogue in such a clear, convincing way.
A Streetcar Named Desire is a very powerful and thought-provoking play, with characters who breathe strong emotion throughout, making the scenes really come to life. It is no wonder that this epic play was made into a fine classic 1951 film with Marlon Brando as Stanley and Vivien Leigh as Blanche. ...more
While the premise of this book certainly sounded gripping and thrilling, none of it really panned out. In fact, this book was sort of a mess. The charWhile the premise of this book certainly sounded gripping and thrilling, none of it really panned out. In fact, this book was sort of a mess. The characters, the plot, the motives, and the explanations or detail of Fatale are as thinly developed as the book itself (weighing in at 93 pages). Can’t understand the high praise for the book really. It really seemed a bit amateurish and a bit B-movieish (perhaps that was the intent). There are far better noirs, and probably far better noirs with dangerous or deadly female lead characters. It seems like the author is so enamored and obsessed with his dangerous female protagonist, Aimee, that he forgets there is some depth that needs to be covered. Basically Fatale reads more like a short story, and perhaps should have just been left as one. Perhaps the translation might have been an issue too, as some dialogue seemed a bit odd or awkward, and some plot description seemed uneven or forced.
Aside from that, there is a somewhat ridiculous plot (which , if you read the synopsis, seems like a doable and engaging storyline, but, alas, not to be), with characters that operate more like caricatures or stereotyped victims, ready to fall into a trap on a whim or playing the victim all too well. And, as far as characters, not really one to root for or identify with. There is this quasi-eat-the-rich or, better put, “kill the rich” theme that is rampant, but it seems false and manufactured, a way to make Aimee seem like some epic heroine or something I guess. Yet, it never really feels that way and everything seems all over the place.
Oh well, if you happen to despise the book, at least you can read it in a very short time, maybe like when you are waiting to have your wisdom teeth pulled or something. ...more
Paul Auster’s novel, The New York Trilogy, is a unique blend of metafiction and mystery, with a definitive detective, noir flavor and vibe. There is aPaul Auster’s novel, The New York Trilogy, is a unique blend of metafiction and mystery, with a definitive detective, noir flavor and vibe. There is a common bond within all three tales in that there is a sense of isolation experienced within the main character’s point of view as they head towards an unseen destination in their investigation/search. At points, the protagonist, in looking for someone or something, is forced to look inwardly, sometimes painfully and truthfully, at themselves.
In “City of Glass”, author Quinn assumes the role of “detective” as he tries to locate and find the whereabouts of the elder Peter Stillman. Stillman allegedly wreaked severe psychological damage on his son, Peter Stillman. The case and search take on a life of its own as Quinn becomes immersed in this case to the point of breakdown and obsession. Auster captures the frustration of Quinn during his search: “…there seemed to be no substance to the case. Stillman was a crazy old man who had forgotten his son. He could be followed to the end of time, and still nothing would happen.”
“Ghosts”, the second of the trilogy and my favorite of the three, is quite a colorful read (in more ways than one). A man named Blue is hired by a guy named White to tail another man named Black (make sense). In much the same manner as “City of Glass”, there is the sense that the one doing the tracking must get into the head of the one they are tracking. They must come up with their own theories, and Blue does not know enough about Black so must take this on in a forceful way, delve into the makeup of Black: “They only way for Blue to have a sense of what is happening is to be inside Blacks’ mind to see what his is thinking, and that of course is impossible.” After much speculating and wondering, things shift quite suddenly in the second part of the plot and we have interaction between Blue and Black that takes us to a sudden conclusion.
“It seems to me now that Fanshawe was always there. He is the place where everything begins for me, and without him I would hardly know who I am.” So begins the final installment in the trilogy, “The Locked Room.” The Locked Room focuses on the search for a writer named Fanshawe, who has been missing for six months. Fanshawe’s wife contacts an acquaintance from Fanshawe’s childhood to help look for the writer. Eventually, things get more complicated when she asks, as a favor, for him to critique her husband’s writings. Becoming fully immersed in the case, the narrator suddenly seems to assume the role of Fanshawe, marrying his wife and trying to get his works published. The narrator takes on much of who Fanshawe is. As the narrator gets closer to understanding more, he begins to question a sense of his own identity.
I found The New York Trilogy to be a breath of fresh air, very non-traditional and unique. There is ambiguity and vagueness to all three novellas, and that is perfectly fine. It forces the readers to be much like the main characters, and assume their own conclusions. And much like the main character in each of the plots, I pushed myself to read on, looking for clues and meanings within. Auster allows room for the reader to interpret, discuss, and think about, much of what goes on.
One of the obvious positives about this book is that it covers a great deal of ground. Not only does it take you through the ins and outs of argument,One of the obvious positives about this book is that it covers a great deal of ground. Not only does it take you through the ins and outs of argument, rhetoric, claims, and the writing process in general, but it also has some worthy, engaging, and applicable topics (gun control, social media, the dangers of sports, childhood obesity, etc.) as basis for what students can expect to both read and write about.
The Elements of Argument is a resource that any college composition student should have (if they can find a copy at a decent price, that is). It starts general, with a chapter on what argument is, and then shifts to being more specific with chapters that give advice on such elements as making a claim, backing up claims with support, researching, debating issues, documenting and research writing, and understanding multiple viewpoints of a topic.
While the topics and the tips are helpful, it would have been more beneficial to simply see more examples in action. There are many writing pieces from various accredited new sources (Los Angeles Times, New York Times, etc), but there are not enough practical examples of student writing in action of the aforementioned elements of writing. Element of Argument does offer some examples, but some are not as helpful as one would hope.
Still, despite this, there are many helpful aspects to this book, and I think it would be a solid resource for any student just starting in college and needing some helpful tips on beginning the writing process. ...more
“We’ re just companions for an evening. Two people having dinner together, seeing a show together. No names, no addresses, no irrelevant personal refe“We’ re just companions for an evening. Two people having dinner together, seeing a show together. No names, no addresses, no irrelevant personal references and details…”
Scott Henderson is a condemned man. Time is of the essence. His wife, a victim of apparent foul play; yet Henderson maintains his innocence. All clues point to him, and now he awaits his death sentence. A woman who he was with could prove an alibi, but where is she? She’s a phantom: no one knows her, no one has seen her. It’s as if she has literally become invisible.
Above all things, I think Phantom Lady is an effective mystery in that it excels in holding us in suspense for the majority of the plot. Part of the mystery is uncovering bits and pieces that could possibly give credibility to Henderson’s case, but there is also a bit of a mystery figuring out why everyone involved is so hush-hush about this ill-fated night. As we get further into the case, and as Henderson awaits the days until his execution, Woolrich pushes us closer with hints and clues, careful not to reveal too much. Moreover, there is an unexpected event, a twist that definitely threw me for a loop.
Phantom Lady is my first read from Cornell Woolrich, and it won’t be my last. Woolrich has a way of putting the average individual in very dark and seemingly unmanageable situations, and then we see if they can worm their way out. There is an aura of fatalism that seems to grip the narrative as well, something that reminded me a bit of a David Goodis work.
If there is one knock on Phantom Lady, it is the meticulously detail by detail explanation in the conclusion (after the final big reveal). We are beat over the head ad nauseum with how it went down.
Other than that, I was very impressed with Phantom Lady, and looking forwards to more reads from Woolrich.