I think I have a spiritual block with Latin American fiction. Every word of it I've ever read has been painfully mundane. I like their poetry, though,...moreI think I have a spiritual block with Latin American fiction. Every word of it I've ever read has been painfully mundane. I like their poetry, though, so when I found out this was about a bunch of poets, I thought, "This could be it."
It was not.
As others have pointed out, nothing happens. Some reviews here claim that something happens. I suspect they're filthy liars. Who else is sick of hearing, "Oh, you just have to read past page 800. It gets really good then"? Or, "You gave up on page 200? Shame. The good stuff happens on page 201"? My ass it does.
One reviewer claimed that on the millionth page a metaphysical shift takes place that gives the whole bland ordeal meaning. So I went looking for spoilers. In all of these reviews, I found one that was hidden due to spoilers. I clicked it and it said, "This book was sexual." Shhhh.
Know why no one has any spoilers in their review? Because nothing happens. If I'm wrong and something does happen, someone, please spoil this for me. I will admit it if I'm wrong.
It pains me to have to give up on this after 70 pages. I used to love Greer's writing, but I'm afraid he's gone down a hopelessly gimmicky path. His f...moreIt pains me to have to give up on this after 70 pages. I used to love Greer's writing, but I'm afraid he's gone down a hopelessly gimmicky path. His first couple of books were very real and they earned their sentimentality. But Max Tivoli seems to have marked a turning point where Greer needs some highfalutin' conceit, be it a protagonist who ages backward, becoming unstuck in time, or just unnaturally withholding information from readers so that he can later "shock" them with their biases.
I waited for this book for a while, and I followed Greer's updates on it. It's clear he works hard and cares for his craft, but sometimes you can overwork a thing. Consider the first lines of his novels in the order they were published:
"The sky always kept its word." A book about astronomers and their families? Ok, good start.
"We are each the love of someone's life." Highly unlikely and possibly offensive, but pleasant enough. I'll allow it.
"We think we know the ones we love." Nothing terrible here, but I could say the same about Greer after finding out how much he withheld and manipulated (see above).
Now Greta Wells:
"The impossible happens once to each of us."
Really? The impossible happens to each and every one of us exactly one time? Go ahead and spoil me, someone. Tell me if the story ever ends up cashing that check, because I'm 70 pages in and it hasn't even come close.
Also, do we ever end up with a reason to care about Greta?(less)
I'm calling it after just a few poems. This could be described as the reason I've never been especially interested in visiting Ireland. It's all "so m...moreI'm calling it after just a few poems. This could be described as the reason I've never been especially interested in visiting Ireland. It's all "so much depends / on grit / and damp environs". It seems to work for a lot of people, but it's never been my kind of poetry. (less)
Alright, I have no interest in finishing this. I can deal with nameless archetypal sorts, but isn't it still possible to give them personalities? Not...moreAlright, I have no interest in finishing this. I can deal with nameless archetypal sorts, but isn't it still possible to give them personalities? Not overly complicated ones, mind you; that would just gum up the symbolophoralogism or whatever. But christ.
Such. bland. writing. Take, for instance:
". . . their bodies were still being riddled by bullets which was a sheer waste of ammunition, it all happened so incredibly slowly, one body, then another, it seemed they would never stop falling, as you sometimes see in films and television."
Ok, never mind that some authors think commas are all the punctuation they need - I can't stand it when they describe something as being like in the movies. It's gotten to the point with a lot of authors where, rather than put any effort into what they're writing, they simply say, "you know, like in the movies." I'm no snob. If you want to make a wry comparison to a specific filmmaker that I won't catch, go for it. But you wouldn't write, "It was all very sad, the way life is sometimes sad." My god, even that's better than what Saramago sharted out.
One more thing. You know why it doesn't matter that Saramago forgoes quotation marks and line breaks (even The Road had line breaks!)? It's because it doesn't matter who's speaking. Not one bit, Who said that, Everyone, Saramago, Everyone who groped along blindly before finally saying bag this and opening their eyes.
I'm not usually so comfortable rating a book I've given up on. (less)
I can't rate this, since I gave up on it, but here's the impression it made:
Having read The Road and liking it well enough and also really liking the...moreI can't rate this, since I gave up on it, but here's the impression it made:
Having read The Road and liking it well enough and also really liking the movies "No Country for Old Men" and "The Sunset Limited," I thought I'd finally delve into this. I'd read the first few pages years ago and put it down with the quickness. One of the problems in putting a book like this down is that you've got your erudite uppities saying, "couldn't handle the archaic obsolete language, hey kiddo?" The bigger problem (cause, really, screw those guys) is that you ask yourself the same question.
Thought through, though, you'll probably come to this conclusion: Maybe. Maybe not.
Elaborate, meandering prose does not a good book make (McCarthy structures some sentences this way, too). All the blurbs on the book proclaim: "The freaky, gothic lovechild of Faulkner and Twain;" "OMG, it's like Faulkner and, I don't know, China Mieville got busy;" "Hey stop stealing my quips;" and "Faaaaaaulkneeeeeeer!"
And yet Ralph Ellison sang McCarthy's praises and that man's got such good taste that if he ordered scrapple and grits and let out a happy sounding fart, I'd double my order. So I read it.
Yes, it was beautiful at times, but in the way of an osmium encrusted onchidiid or degenerate matter burning through the pestilential Earth. You like that, don't you, M?
I'm not a big fan of exposition for exposition's sake. You know that old "murder your darlings" thing? Do it. Kill all of them but one and send that one off as an example of what you're capable of.
Now, I realize that this isn't the book's fault, but it also didn't help that the two biggest d-bags I know trip over themselves recommending McCarthy. One thought himself an eminently serious writer and could only ever speak of canon (I squee when I think what his reaction must have been to McCarthy's appearance on Oprah) and the other is my friend's brother who once spit on a homeless man.
I imagine McCarthy writing this in throes of authorial bliss, running from room to room screaming, "DESCRIBE ALL THE THINGS!" Southern Gothic might be my least favorite genre. Ever.
These days it seems that anything overwrought brings apologists out of the woodwork; a ceaseless swarm of sycophants droning, "you just don't get it." Yeah? Well, there was a time when this might have won the Pulitzer, but that era's gone. Now the committee gives the award to books like "The Road" because they feel bad about not actually enjoying Faulknerian prose and only wanting a bitchin' apocalyptic novel instead. What's my point? I don't know, but I think it's something like, "to hell with prizes and blurbs and Roger Ebert; this thing stank."
But here's one line that I quite liked, " . . . even a false adumbration of the world of spirit is better than none at all." Possibly. Unfortunately, this book is not a great argument in support of that notion. (less)
What a prosaic pile of shit (shit being the operative word here, there being enough of it within the first 20 pages). The preface alone was like liste...moreWhat a prosaic pile of shit (shit being the operative word here, there being enough of it within the first 20 pages). The preface alone was like listening to 5th grade boys at a sleepover taking turns with a gross-out story of poo-monsters, reanimated turkeys and whatever other random crap passed through their ADD-addled minds.
I recently suffered through the new Dylan Dog movie and do not intend to relive it in book form. I only tried to because a friend I'd recommended House of Leaves to told me to give it a shot. The difference between our recommendations, however, is that where Johnny Truant's initially base narrative becomes more informed and his grammatical mistakes eventually explained, the narrator of JD@tE remains a complete dipshit throughout.
Funny and horrifying? There was nothing funny about this and the only horrifying thing is that a friend praised it to no end.(less)
Ok, that's about enough of that. As most other reviewers seem to be saying, this book started off promising, but quickly veered into pseudoscience. It...moreOk, that's about enough of that. As most other reviewers seem to be saying, this book started off promising, but quickly veered into pseudoscience. It's not a big shocker, though, when in the introduction the author admits he "come[s] from a psychic family." I was just hoping there'd be more science and less, you know, total fucking bullshit. (less)
I've never felt this comfortable ditching a book only having read 4 pages, but this author is insufferable. A total wretch and not even a funny one. F...moreI've never felt this comfortable ditching a book only having read 4 pages, but this author is insufferable. A total wretch and not even a funny one. Fine, so he didn't care for Charles when he met him or whatever. Does that make publishing a book of insults (and not just geared toward the Pixies, but other musicians and humanity itself) honorable? And what were the publishers thinking? Zero stars.(less)
I'm a fan of Star Trek, not "Here Come the Brides." Given that this is billed as a ST novel, I'd say it's a big old fail. It's like a bit of romantic...moreI'm a fan of Star Trek, not "Here Come the Brides." Given that this is billed as a ST novel, I'd say it's a big old fail. It's like a bit of romantic fan-fiction. Chapter after chapter of San Fransisco in 18dickety-two with the innumerable and indistinguishable "J" brothers is not what I signed up for here. Hambly suckers you in with an opening scene on the Enterprise, then follows it up with a bunch of Oregon Trail shit. This was the first Trek novel I've attempted and as it's roundly considered to be one of the best, I think I better stay away from the others.(less)
This is Solaris' failure of a sibling. It is "Fellowship of the Rings" for sci-fi. It is absolute crap.
Who is giving this thing 5 stars? It could be t...moreThis is Solaris' failure of a sibling. It is "Fellowship of the Rings" for sci-fi. It is absolute crap.
Who is giving this thing 5 stars? It could be the translation (Mark e Heine), but I doubt it. Lem daydreams for 260 pages about a world with bizarre (not to mention vague) plant life and "factories" which produce genetic life with mutated results. Or something like that. After about 100 pages, I began to skim - reading about 1 sentence on every other page - and I'm pretty sure I got as much out of it as I would have had I suffered through every line of stagnant description (the way I did with Fellowship, for instance).
Not only does this story amount to nothing but, throughout, the 6 characters are referred to by their title (Chemist, Captain, Doctor, etc.) and are virtually indistinguishable from one another. No personality, no special skills put to use on the alien planet, nothing.
What a freaking disaster. I gave this thing 60 pages and couldn't bear the thought of another 300. The writing is atrocious, with every character call...moreWhat a freaking disaster. I gave this thing 60 pages and couldn't bear the thought of another 300. The writing is atrocious, with every character calling out his/her name along with his/her super power or, if not, addressing one another that way ALL THE TIME. The plot is sloooow and it's just an ugly comic to look at. My DC education will never be complete, but I can live with that if it means never having to look at this comic again. In the end, who even cares? Let each comic take care of itself with its own storyline. Doesn't seem like this series' changes were maintained anyway, though I could be mistaken about that.(less)
Not only is the narrator unlikeable, as so many reviewers on the internets have pointed out, he is also a poor story-teller and I needn't tell you wha...moreNot only is the narrator unlikeable, as so many reviewers on the internets have pointed out, he is also a poor story-teller and I needn't tell you what a problem that is for a reader.
"Going nowhere fast" is the best description I can think of for this book. It reads quick, but it is mundane and nowhere near as introspective as promised. I borrowed this from the library along with the Lost Weekend and was hoping for a good one-two punch from the human condition. Well, I'm grateful for the Lost Weekend as it gave me a recent memory of what a truly good story is, enabling me to put Henderson down without the usual guilt.
Herzog was overrated, but at least it had some philosophy. Henderson was said to be better . . . Guess this was Bellow's last chance with me.(less)
It's an important lesson in life (and one that I'm still working to adhere to) that just because something is a classic doesn't mean it's for everyone...moreIt's an important lesson in life (and one that I'm still working to adhere to) that just because something is a classic doesn't mean it's for everyone. Frankenstein this is not. When I read Frankenstein, I was mesmerized and quickly realized that everything I thought I knew about the monster was wrong. The story of Dracula, on the other hand, is exactly as you've heard it a million times before and told rather dryly. Not being too into vampires, I'm not sure what made me think this one would be any different. I finally gave up on it 130 pages in (hence no rating) and read the synopsis online. No spoilers there. Glad I gave up on it. There are too many books out there to stick with ones that just don't work for you.(less)