PART 1 At that instant there was a sharp click, the jangling of metal, and Sherlock Holmes sprang to his feet again. "Gentlemen," he cried, with flashi...morePART 1 At that instant there was a sharp click, the jangling of metal, and Sherlock Holmes sprang to his feet again. "Gentlemen," he cried, with flashing eyes, "let me introduce you to [THIS GUY], the murderer."
PART 2 Now the great salt plain stretched before his eyes, and the distant belt of savage mountains, without a sign anywhere of plant or tree, which might indicate the presence of moisture.
PART 3 The herd of stegosaurus moved slowly across the clearing. Kaptu stood quietly in the shade of a palm tree, watching them pass. He had been three days with little more food than berries scavenged in the brush. Yet, without the assistance of his fellow kin he could not begin to take down one of the massive beasts.
PART 4 "Remove your coat." The Candy Colonel crossed his arms, glowering, and waited for Buttercup Baby to pull the sugar-laced clouds from her torso. In the distance, a wild gumdrop rolled across cumulus downs. Buttercup sighed, reining in a flood of saccharine tears. Being arrested in Candyland was no small matter.
PART 5 "And THAT'S how it was done!" Holmes triumphantly nodded. I raised my hand weakly. "What...?"(less)
Side note: It may have come later, but I thought McCammon's Swan Song was a far better-written and more arresting novel.
That said, King did it first,...moreSide note: It may have come later, but I thought McCammon's Swan Song was a far better-written and more arresting novel.
That said, King did it first, and he does know how to write engaging characters and atmospheres (well, sometimes). Even though the book is over 1000 pages long, I rarely felt bored. Huge points for Tom Cullen, who is M-O-O-N, that spells adorable. There are, though, many flaws.
The Stand should not be winning any prizes for skillful prose. It's messy and bloated. King's personal comfort with colorful phrases causes him to write them into unlikely characters' speech (and boy does he know a lot of them, many of them not particularly pleasant [tell me again about the guy who wouldn't say "shit" if he had a mouthful!]). Sometimes his foreshadowing detracts from the story: there is the line, for example, "they never saw him again," which was clearly intended to mislead the reader but instead gave away the plot.
I was also disappointed at the dearth of scares. For the most infamous novel of the master of horror himself, it's very...not-horror. Even the typical good-vs-evil concern is watered down by the ever-present sense of divine protection. King is very good at stealing his villain's thunder, even going so far as to tell us when the bad guy is weakening.
Interestingly, though, King goes into great detail about the psyches of multiple characters from both sides, which caused me to sympathize with some of the bad guys more than some of the good guys (come on, Trashcan Man is way more sympathetic than guilt-trip Larry). When it comes down to it, the majority of the book is about human interactions, and some of the implications about communal nature still give food for thought.(less)
At the first I was excited and intrigued by this novel, which was so much more lively and strange than I had expected. But around the last 30% it lost...moreAt the first I was excited and intrigued by this novel, which was so much more lively and strange than I had expected. But around the last 30% it lost some of its vibrancy and suspense, seeming more like, to use Helsing's metaphor, the tale of a pack of dogs hunting down a near-helpless fox. I had thought there would be some final great battle, but no. 3.5 stars, really.(less)
Best read following "Mademoiselle de Maupin," I think, which it echoes and mocks. I found it strangely comforting--growing old and ugly is, of course,...moreBest read following "Mademoiselle de Maupin," I think, which it echoes and mocks. I found it strangely comforting--growing old and ugly is, of course, terribly frightening; but if I truly consider how eternal youth and beauty might affect my personality, having read this book, I see a real possibility for egotism, vanity, and a chilling of the heart. Better old and gray, with a fluffy old cat!(less)
I'm grateful that I didn't shrug off this novel due to Rand's philosophy or the feelings of my friends. When we read a philosopher's work, most of us...moreI'm grateful that I didn't shrug off this novel due to Rand's philosophy or the feelings of my friends. When we read a philosopher's work, most of us take away what we agree with and leave the rest: few people can identify as strict utilitarians, but may sometimes make utilitarian choices or arguments. Likewise, The Fountainhead contains concepts which, like our protagonist and his creations, are exactly as solid and unyielding as they need to be to offset the popular opinion. There is no requirement to swallow the philosophy whole.
"Stand here, he thought, and count the lighted windows of a city. You cannot do it. But behind each yellow rectangle that climbs, one over another, to the sky - under each bulb - down to there, see that spark over the river which is not a star? - there are people whom you will never see and who are your masters. At the supper tables, in the drawing rooms, in their beds and in their cellars, in their studies and in their bathrooms. Speeding in the subways under your feet. Crawling up in elevators through vertical cracks around you. Jolting past you in every bus. Your masters, Gail Wynand. There is a net - longer than the cables that coil through the walls of this city, larger than the mesh of pipes that carry water, gas and refuse - there is another hidden net around you; it is strapped to you, and the wires lead to every hand in the city. They jerked the wires and you moved. You were a ruler of men. You held a leash. A leash is only a rope with a noose at both ends. "
The Fountainhead is at times unrealistic, sketchy, and even inane. Yet it contains some tight, gorgeous prose, unforgettable characters, and an inspiring tale of triumph. I took away from it not that Roark cared nothing for others, but that he valued his own goals, his own passions, and his own talent. People laughed at him, grew angry, and attempted to destroy him; he ignored them.
I have heard that Ayn Rand was once asked, in front of a crowd of people, whether she believed that she was perfect. She replied that, in terms of following her own philosophy, yes; and was not whatsoever distressed by the reaction of the people before her.
This is a quality that we sometimes need. People tend to associate Rand with selfishness incarnate, and eschew her books. But Roark doesn't treat people badly. He doesn't ask for handouts. He does, however, refuse to live for others. He does not bend or break against the judgments of others.
How many books so strongly support that idea, which we are told in literature is good, but constantly are shown is bad? I'm often told by my friends that they wish I cared as much about myself as I do about [animal/person]. The Fountainhead was, to me, a tale about how necessary and selfless (Roark lives for his art, and people benefit from it) self-respect and self-belief can be: "To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That's what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul - would you understand why that's much harder?”
The Fountainhead also violently crusades against the supposed value of popular opinion. "...it was too clear, even to him, that public favor had ceased being a recognition of merit, that it had become almost a brand of shame.”Hello, Twilight.
Besides, it's just plain a good story. Fuck the philosophy.(less)
Awesome cover. That infamous adage comes to mind, as the actual content is almost entirely unrelated: a mystery written in strangely static, grandiloq...moreAwesome cover. That infamous adage comes to mind, as the actual content is almost entirely unrelated: a mystery written in strangely static, grandiloquent language with fake footnotes à la Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. (Repeat: there is no gargantuan arctic fox.)
It's interesting in ways, and far more intelligent than its content would imply, but ultimately, despite its oddities, mediocre and not even worth reading.(less)
It would have been two stars but for some extraordinarily beautiful moments of descriptive prose, the appealing psychology of Madame Bovary, and the o...moreIt would have been two stars but for some extraordinarily beautiful moments of descriptive prose, the appealing psychology of Madame Bovary, and the occasional resounding truism.
The story droned and dragged on, mildly criticizing both science and religion, until its denouement repulsed and disappointed with its definite criticism of science, learning, and all of the beautiful "vices", such as the pursuance of passionate romance, with which Madame busied herself.
It seems like Aveling translated it very well.(less)
"The great day having come, twenty-four criers on horseback, wearing...moreMelodramatic, fanciful, fervent, excessive.
One of the best damn books I ever read.
"The great day having come, twenty-four criers on horseback, wearing the publisher's livery with his address on breast and back, bearing in their hands banners on both sides of which would be embroidered the title of the novel, and each proceeded by a tambourine and by kettledrums, should go through the streets of the city and, stopping in squares and at the crossings of streets, they should proclaim in a loud and intelligible voice: 'It is to-day, not yesterday or to-morrow, that is published the admirable, inimitable, divine and more than divine novel of the famous Théophile Gautier, 'Mademoiselle de Maupin', which Europe, and even the other parts of the world and Polynesia have been impatiently expecting for more than a year past. It is being sold at the rate of five hundred copies a minute, and new editions appear every half-hour. A picket of municipal guards is stationed at the shop door to keep back the crowd and prevent disorder in any shape."(less)