Despite his Tuscan home, Calvino's Cosmicomics is a must-read for all fans of mid-century South American literature. The wit and fantasy underlying th...moreDespite his Tuscan home, Calvino's Cosmicomics is a must-read for all fans of mid-century South American literature. The wit and fantasy underlying this series of connected stories is surprisingly close to Cortazar's Cronopios and Famas or Borges's more fantastical pieces. True--you're most apt to see Calvino's works in the hands of that post-modern, comp lit student at the coffeeshop (you know, the one with the asymmetrical bangs and the iPod full of Sigur Ros albums). Don't let that scare you away. Calvino has created a fantastic world that deserves to be explored.(less)
I am constantly surprised by how fervently adored this book is. Danielewski has given us a wonderful read, and I cannot fault him for that. However, n...moreI am constantly surprised by how fervently adored this book is. Danielewski has given us a wonderful read, and I cannot fault him for that. However, not only are the themes of the minotaur, the labyrinth, identity, darkness, and the ontology of space and time lifted from Borges (almost to the point of plagiarism), but the style of pseudo academic fiction is reminiscent of both Borges and, especially, Nabokov's Pale Fire. Combine 1 part Blair Witch with 2 parts Pale Fire and 3 parts Borges, and you've got a recipe for House of Leaves.
This is not to say that the book is not worth reading; I highly recommend it. However, the book should be seen as an homage to a pre-existing style, not as an innovative masterpiece.(less)
i have read these two novellas at least once a year for the past five years. in this genre of mid-20th-century American fiction--realist depictions of...morei have read these two novellas at least once a year for the past five years. in this genre of mid-20th-century American fiction--realist depictions of urban alienation and decay--West ranks right there at the top with Algren and Fante.
True, there are several authors of the genre--Burroughs, Kerouac, Selby Jr., Miller, Pynchon, etc.--but only West, Fante, and Algren can depict their protagonists with such candid empathy.(less)
I first read this book (as most of us did) in high school. At the time, we were taught that it was a remarkable achievement and a literary masterpiece...moreI first read this book (as most of us did) in high school. At the time, we were taught that it was a remarkable achievement and a literary masterpiece. Upon returning to Bradbury's novel, I must say that I am somewhat underwhelmed. The book isn't bad by any means, but it does not live up to the literary greatness that I remember from 12 years ago. Allow me to explain...
I have this theory that Fahrenheit 451 is one of the last books most people ever read. Along with 1984, Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, and a couple of works by Vonnegut, Fahrenheit is a stock novel for high-school English classes (I'm sure there are others, but I think everyone read at least one of the aforementioned). The book is political without being reactionary, written in a simple and direct prose, and it lacks the complex plot-points that characterize other notable works. In point of fact, Fahrenheit 451 is a great, great book for introducing adolescent readers to literature. But... People graduate from high-school and (for the majority) go on to study science or business or to enter the work-force, never again to have anything but the most cursory of experiences with the great novels. In short, Fahrenheit 451 is one of the last great books that (most) people ever read. And if you doubt me, just try to find any book you read in high-school at the airport bookstore.
So, that being said, and the shrill accusations of literary elitism already ringing in my ears, I love Fahrenheit 451. For each and every one of Bradbury's overwrought and bloated metaphors, I love this book--if only because it reminds me that at one point in almost everyone's life, they get to read at least a few good books. (less)