Dark and not so disturbing. Idiotically obsessive maybe, annoying too, but that's just me. I would have greatly enjoyed this book had I read it in 200...moreDark and not so disturbing. Idiotically obsessive maybe, annoying too, but that's just me. I would have greatly enjoyed this book had I read it in 2006-07. That was a phase when I was hugely influenced by the absurdists or what have you. I could have swallowed and digested it then, nice and easy, nothing difficult here: I mean how hard it is to grab that life is miserable. I remember the streets of Chennai, in and around Mylapore and the curiously inviting Mount road, where I used to roam and there was a distant pleasure in my heart, a very vague kind of joy which told me that I am detached from it all! That there is solace in inaction and great meaning in my walks that lead nowhere.
Now there is a perfect setup here: an artist is obsessed by a woman he has just seen and wants to consume her. The initial chapters where he follows her are brilliantly crafted. What didn't go down well with me was the cruel logic by which the woman character is used as a punching bag for our maniac hero. She seems to be ready to take all his abuse and it never occurs to her that she can leave him! The main character (the artist) clearly annoyed me. What I was intrigued by was the woman. And she is intentionally kept elusive, impenetrable also, to justify what happens in the end. She never clearly replies to the artist's constant nagging about their presumed love. Going by that line of thought the outsider position in the novel gets confused here: I think of the woman and not the artist as the person who stands at the shores of the social sea, who can see clearly enough to understand that the cliched language of love is meaningless - the hero than appears more like an over-possessive kid who just happens to come around a toy he eventually rips apart as if it were not to be played with, but understood.
No matter what spin you apply to them, the proceedings seemed more like a noir. Jim Thompson comes to mind. How beautifully he wrote about human folly! I checked on Wikipedia whether Thompson started writing earlier than the likes of Camus and Sabato did. His first novel was published in 1942, same year Camus came up with the "The Stranger". But by some twisted logic it always occurs to me that it all stemmed from Thompson. Not that I believe in it. I stand at a distance and regard the idea. (less)
I always enjoy the typical Mamet-speak, be it in his films or in his plays. The sardonic, street-smart dialogues his characters speak are so effective...moreI always enjoy the typical Mamet-speak, be it in his films or in his plays. The sardonic, street-smart dialogues his characters speak are so effective on ears that they seem to deny the fact that a film should need a plot. The dialogues, like a structured symphony, carry the reader/viewer from one situation to another, with the plot slowly revealing itself, with the true nature of the characters coming out through their actions as they con one another, and we don't realize till the very end that the biggest con in the whole ordeal is yet to be played, the one Mamet ends up playing on the audience. I always hate when a Mamet film/play gets over, coz I won't ever have the fun to view/read it for the first time.
"Glengarry Glen Ross" is the best he has ever written. It captures the anger, frustration, and predicament of the real-state agents and the dead-end jobs they are stuck in. Their tiring efforts to sell unsalable properties to unwilling clients is no less thrilling than a thriller. In the end, you realize that it is in a way the story of every working person. I re-read scenes from this play just to see how handsomely Mamet handles each and every narrative cord of this angry yet enjoyable drama.
From the so very well-written first scene, when Blake enters the office and gives the four salesmen the so-called 'motivational speech' telling them to close the deals or get fired, the play gets its momentum. And scene after scene it never looses it. It builds up a similar anger in us. If it has to go wrong, there are a million ways it can. But Mamet never sets a foot wrong. Howard Hawks once said that a good drama should have at least three good scenes. Well, this one has oodles!
A very trippy, heady novel, the kind I have never read before. This is classic storytelling of a very strange story and it helps to know that Brautiga...moreA very trippy, heady novel, the kind I have never read before. This is classic storytelling of a very strange story and it helps to know that Brautigan wrote it in the aftermath of the flower power era when it was still possible to believe in curious chemicals and the monsters it created (a dig at society's excessive reliance on science?). This is the kind of a novel they must have read while being totally sloshed. Like psychedelic music, it would make more sense when one is high!(less)
Short pieces of absurd pseudo-intellectualism in a typical Woody Allen style! He affirms a notion I once came across about the human condition: "loose...moreShort pieces of absurd pseudo-intellectualism in a typical Woody Allen style! He affirms a notion I once came across about the human condition: "loose your sense of humor, and you're in trouble"
On the book cover of Picador edition, Will Self praises the book as "an ideal bedside companion". I can't disagree.(less)
It was a haunting collection alright as the backcover informs. I like Bolano for the same reason any ameture, untrained writer would. He never felt at...moreIt was a haunting collection alright as the backcover informs. I like Bolano for the same reason any ameture, untrained writer would. He never felt at home with the intellectual milieu he was a part of, and that in turn inspired his art. 'Last Evenings on Earth' is my first Bolano experience, and I feel, though I am not sure, that he is the most earnest in here. The strange thing about these stories is that these are not actual stories, but sort of biographies; accounts of people who were all writers at the margins of society, trying to hold their own in an indifferent world. The stories start as remembrances and never even shows a single sign of building up, so there is no question of a pay-off near the end. As in, there are hardly any events in these tales. The tone and structure in which Bolano fits these sometimes banal, often melancholy, accounts is that of a mystery story. What keeps you flipping pages is the feeling Bolano creates that something baffling or meaningful might happen at the end. Noting does. To borrow from Murakami, "we just move from one kind of oblivion to another". That someone like Bolano was there to record the absurdities of these people with unrealized, ambitious dreams, gives us solace, and a firm assurence in the power of literature. (less)
A marvel of a book! It reads like a tribute to imagination, a deep faith in man's faculty of wonder. A book so tender that it can charm a reader's hea...moreA marvel of a book! It reads like a tribute to imagination, a deep faith in man's faculty of wonder. A book so tender that it can charm a reader's heart. In describing the imaginary cities to Kublai Khan, Marco Polo is describing but the single city in its various guises, Venice. It's as if Calvino is on a grand mission here, to rub the boundaries between the manifold views of a singular reality. Hat's off to the great conjurer!(less)