I didn't do this book any favours by taking so long to read it. I had never read anything by Lawrence Durrell before and this book may elevate him to...moreI didn't do this book any favours by taking so long to read it. I had never read anything by Lawrence Durrell before and this book may elevate him to the ranks of my favourite authors. Oddly enough, I found myself lost in Durrell's poetic style to the extent that the plot and characters came to be of secondary importance...I almost didn't care what happened to them. This book has been analyzed extensively by better writers than I; I'll leave off with saying I want to read more of this fellow's work.(less)
Holy Hannah! I don't think I've ever read a book quite like this one. Actually, this is my first Updike book, but I'm sure it won't be the last. Not t...moreHoly Hannah! I don't think I've ever read a book quite like this one. Actually, this is my first Updike book, but I'm sure it won't be the last. Not that it was a pleasant read, necessarily; it may be the only book I've ever read where all the major characters had serious flaws. Rabbit (Harry Angstrom) is immature, irresponsible, selfish and narcissistic, and those are just his best qualities! He's oversexed, his wife is a frigid drunk, and you don't need a crystal ball to see where this one's headed. So here I am, reading this book in which I'm feeling nothing but contempt for the main characters, and I can barely make myself put the darn thing down. It was absolutely engrossing from start to finish.
I think the only thing that bothered me about this tale is that Mr. Updike was fond of very long rambling run on sentences, paragraphs really, that were somewhat confusing. This was probably a writer's device to portray confusion in the mind of the subject but it served to befuddle me just as much. Another thing that had me puzzled was the sexual content. Now this book was apparently banned for explicit sex, among other things; how's this for explicit sex:
Rough with herself, she forces the dry other into his face, coated with cool pollen that dissolves. He opens his eyes, seeking her, and sees her face a soft mask gazing downward calmly, caring for him, and closes his eyes on the food of her again; his hand abandoned on the breadth of her body finds at arm's length a split pod, an open fold, shapeless and simple. They enter a lazy space. He wants the time to stretch long, to great length and thinness. As they deepen together he feels impatience that through all their twists they remain separate flesh; he cannot dare enough, now that she is so much his friend in this search; everywhere they meet a wall. The body lacks voice to sing it's own song. Impatience tapers; she floats through his blood as under his eyelids a salt smell, damp pressure, the sense of her smallness... You get the picture.
I don't know how that passage and others like it in the book portray explicit sex. Cool pollen? Floats through his blood? I don't even know what the heck went on there!
In spite of the very minor observations just mentioned this is a great read, a study in morality really. My favorite quote was uttered by Rabbit's old coach Tothero: Right and wrong aren't dropped from the sky. We. We make them. Against misery. Invariably, Harry, invariably
As a last note, I would like to make a mental thank you to Mr. Updike for refraining from beating the sports thing to death here. I can't abide basketball. Never could. That's the main reason I held off on starting this book for so long.(less)
It's a pity that this book was out there for so long and I just got around to reading it. Capote doesn't use the typical murder/non-fiction ploy of ma...moreIt's a pity that this book was out there for so long and I just got around to reading it. Capote doesn't use the typical murder/non-fiction ploy of maximizing gore and downplaying the character sketches; he makes sure that you are well introduced to the principal participants and, I think, tries to drum up some sympathy for the culprits in the case.
(view spoiler)[In spite of knowing beforehand exactly how this sordid deal played out, I still found the story and the characters absolutely engrossing. I couldn't shake the feeling that Capote was partial to Smith; the story seems to emphasize Hickock's bad qualities (of which he had plenty), while going to great lengths to portray Smith in a sympathetic manner. Poor Smitty had a bad childhood, and parents that drank, and a sister that didn't like him, and a motorcycle accident, and on and on and on. It didn't work for me; probably no massacred family in history was more innocent or less deserving of their fate than the Clutter family, and to suggest that either of these killers deserved a pass because of an uncomfortable childhood is just too much. The insinuation that the actual trigger-puller, Smith, is a better fellow than Hickock is just more than I'm willing to swallow. (hide spoiler)]
I'm not sure of the reason for the favoritism; maybe it's just my perception; maybe Hickock wouldn't talk to Capote as nicely as Smith did. Another possibility is that Capote, a homosexual, might have had a thing for Smith. In any event, I thought that the scale tilted slightly in Smith's favor. It didn't make the book less interesting, and it surprises me that he didn't write more in this vein.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I thought I would like this old favorite a lot more than I did. I don't think this one made the transition from the 19th century to the 21st century v...moreI thought I would like this old favorite a lot more than I did. I don't think this one made the transition from the 19th century to the 21st century very well at all. The book is about twice as long as it needs to be, thanks to wandering and bewildering dialogue. The story itself is unlikely; Cooper would have us believe that the Hurons were extremely lenient with their prisoners, letting them wander about unraped and untortured and permitting them to be rescued time and again. If you want a book on torture, pass this one by and pick up something on Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay.
I know the book has long been considered a classic, and Mr. Cooper shows a talent for descriptive prose, but I don't think it suits the modern reader very well at all. Maybe I'm jaded from over-exposure to explicit media, but this is one of the very few times you will see me declare that the movie was an improvement on the book.(less)
This is my first experience with this author's work. Excellent storyline, almost prophetic insofar as the torture of the enemies of the Empire is conc...moreThis is my first experience with this author's work. Excellent storyline, almost prophetic insofar as the torture of the enemies of the Empire is concerned. It's impossible not to make comparisons with our own acceptance of the torture during interrogation of our own " barbarians" when such torture is excused as necessary for our security. After all, it's wrong to question the motives or methods of the Empire, isn't it?(less)
Finally I am finished with this dreary, tedious book. It set my reading back a month, at least. The characters are confusing, having been given simila...moreFinally I am finished with this dreary, tedious book. It set my reading back a month, at least. The characters are confusing, having been given similar names. It gets to the point where you don't know who is doing what to whom and, what's more, you couldn't care less. If this had been the first book I chose to read, there would never have been a second.(less)