I’m a big fan of mysteries and I’ve been wanting to go back and read some of the classics. Recently, a podcast I was listening to mentioned that The B...moreI’m a big fan of mysteries and I’ve been wanting to go back and read some of the classics. Recently, a podcast I was listening to mentioned that The Big Lebowski was loosely based on this book. Its an old favorite of mine, but I hadn’t known that. I decided it was time to finally read this. Not only that, but I convinced Hubby, a fan of film noire, to read it, too. Next we’re going to watch the 1946 The Big Sleep and re-watch The Big Lebowski .
I really enjoyed the novel’s descriptions of LA and the smart-ass dialog. I wonder if people ever really spoke like that? The plot was twisty, complicated and somewhat ambiguous (which is also a positive for me). I half expected the plot to feel stale since the book and movies are referenced in so many works. While I can definitely see the connections to The Big Lebowski, and the familiarity of the hard-boiled detective and the femme fatale characters, the plot itself didn’t feel familiar. It seems like only the atmosphere and characters that have floated into recirculation. I’m curious to see how much they had to dial down the complexity for the 1946 movie (I understand they had to change it a bit because of morality laws, removing the references to homosexuality for example). (less)
This is one of the “Havana Quartet”. I am the kind of person that usually insists on reading a series in order, but I knew this was not the first book...moreThis is one of the “Havana Quartet”. I am the kind of person that usually insists on reading a series in order, but I knew this was not the first book in the series. Instead, its the first book that was translated in to English. Since this was the one available at my library, I went with it thinking that it must be able to stand alone or they wouldn’t have published the translation out of order. I had no trouble following the plot, however there was quite a bit of backstory missing that I think would have explained Conde’s relationships with his friends and co-workers. I really wish I’d chose the first book written rather than the first book translated. Next time, I’m listening to my instinct for order. (less)
I went to three different high schools followed by engineering school. Sometimes, I feel like there are works of literature or even literary movements...moreI went to three different high schools followed by engineering school. Sometimes, I feel like there are works of literature or even literary movements that I have missed. Until now, I have not read anything by George Orwell nor, aside from T.S. Eliot’s Wasteland can I recall having read anything from the movement that came from Europe post WWII.
This was much creepier than I thought it would be. I nearly dropped it several times, but convinced myself I could finish something with relatively few pages. Nevertheless, it was not a quick read and is not something I’m going to forget for some time (especially in an election year). I expected something a little bit more dry and related to political philosophy, but this was really much more psychological and is much more about despair than socialism. This was about power and control, but even so I was surprised at how very dark and hopeless the characters in the book. There was really very little comfort to be had by anyone at almost anytime and even knowing this they accepted their lives. (less)
I went through a big fantasy reading phase when I was young. At some point, I seem to have blended Terry Prachett and Piers Anthony into one person. I...moreI went through a big fantasy reading phase when I was young. At some point, I seem to have blended Terry Prachett and Piers Anthony into one person. It was Piers Anthony that I read in late middle school/ early high school--absurd and full of puns. I sort of liked it initially but it grew stale quickly. Unfortunately, I had a friend who thought he was the greatest thing ever, talked about Xanth endlessly and convinced me to read more of the series than I would have done otherwise. It ended up putting me off the humorous side of fantasy books almost entirely.
I’ve only recently realized two things: First, Terry Prachett is not Piers Anthony (nor Terry Goodkind). Second, sometimes I enjoy a well-told silly story. This has much in common with Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Its basically fueled by absurdity, but done in such a way that I found it entertaining rather than annoying or insulting. I can’t quite put my finger on what makes me like this book, and be so appalled by others. Maybe I have something against puns or maybe it was that the first Prachett book that I read was co-written with Neil Gaiman and the humor quite a bit darker than the pure-Prachett seems to be. I’m sure I’ll read some more in this giant series of series (39?! books). I may try out one his officially labeled “young adult” books with my son next or just go on to the second in the series. (less)
This won the Man Booker Prize and I can see why. It is told through modern prose as well Victorian poetry, fairytales, letters and journal entries (ea...moreThis won the Man Booker Prize and I can see why. It is told through modern prose as well Victorian poetry, fairytales, letters and journal entries (each with different voices). It took some amazing skills to pull that off.
Unfortunately, my skill as a reader doesn’t match. It is not easy for me to read poetry and lengthy passages of faux-Victorian poetry with hidden meanings is well outside my comfort zone. Similarly, I could follow the letters and journals well enough, but would find the contrast with the modern prose jarring. I think I would have had an easier time reading an outright Victorian work in which I could settle in to a single style and single voices rather than switching around. I found myself counting pages to see how much I would have to plow through to get to something more accessible and then wonder if I’d missed important details (probably). I have to say I’m a bit relieved its finished. (less)