Matthew Scudder is back and this time a small-time stoolie named Jake “The Spinner” Jablon has come to him for help. This informer has found a new lin...moreMatthew Scudder is back and this time a small-time stoolie named Jake “The Spinner” Jablon has come to him for help. This informer has found a new line of business in blackmail but now one of his clients has figured it was better to kill than keep paying for his silence. After an attempt on his life goes wrong, The Spinner turns to Scudder to be his avenging angel if he ever does wind up dead. Only problem is when he eventually was found floating in the river, Scudder had to work out just who finally caught up to The Spinner and killed him.
Having just finished War and Peace (a review that is quite difficult to write) I felt the need to read something quick and easy. The Matthew Scudder series is just that, 1970’s hard-boiled with a gritty and fast paced style to it. Scudder is a former New York Police officer who now does ‘favours’ for people as he isn’t a licenced Private Investigator. One of the things I really like about Lawrence Block’s hard-boiled detective is the fact that there are signs that he isn’t what he claims to be. It’s revealed that Scudder was a corrupt cop and you can see the corruption start to seep into his PI work. Hard-Boiled characters normally walk that fine line between good and evil but with Matthew Scudder I get the sense that he can’t walk a straight line.
You might have noticed that I’ve been trying to write critical reviews lately but when it comes to a book like Time to Murder and Create it is hard to have in-depth criticism. This is pure escapism, a quick and entertaining read full of dark gritty characters that all have a secret to keep. Like In the Midst of Death, Time to Murder and Create wasn’t as good as The Sins of the Fathers, the series started off strong but now it feels like those crime shows on TV where there is just a new case every time and nothing new or exciting.
If I ever need a quick easy palate cleaner, then I might return to the Matthew Scudder because sometimes you need mindless entertainment. I have an idea of what I would like to see with this character but I don’t think they will go in that direction. Sometimes I wish I had the skills to write a hard-boiled crime series, just because they are fun to read and I have never found a series that lived up to the excitement of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe series and I’m frustrated enough to want to create my own. If anyone has a recommendation for a great hard-boiled crime series, please let me know.
The fact that William Shakespeare’s Sonnets are dedicated to one Mr W.H. has been the source of much speculation. Eighteenth century critic Thomas Tyr...moreThe fact that William Shakespeare’s Sonnets are dedicated to one Mr W.H. has been the source of much speculation. Eighteenth century critic Thomas Tyrwhitt suggests that the sonnets are written for a person known as William Hughes. He bases this theory on his interpretation of the Sonnets, lines like “A man in hue, all Hues in his controlling” (the 20th sonnet) where the word ‘Hue’ is capitalised and italicised and the multiple puns on the name ‘Will’ found in the sonnets.
The Portrait of Mr. W.H. is a short story by Oscar Wilde; it only took me about twenty minutes so I don’t think I’ll say much about it but it was a story I wanted to review. Yes, it was required reading for university but it was an interesting enough piece that getting my thoughts down seemed like a good idea. I remember reading The Picture of Dorian Gray a long time ago and not getting on with it; maybe I wasn’t for me or maybe I just hadn’t had the literary knowledge to get something out of it. In any case, I’m curious enough that maybe Dorian Gray will be a reread in the future.
I want to compare The Portrait of Mr. W.H. with My Life as a Fake because they both seem to talk about a similar topic. While My Life as a Fake covered a literary hoax, The Portrait of Mr. W.H. looks at a piece of literary criticism that has been around for a long time and is often talked about. I don’t agree with this theory and it is important to know that Oscar Wilde didn’t either, although by the end he almost did. What I really liked about this story is the fact that Wilde took a differing view of the Sonnets and tried to explore it. This is an excellent example of literary criticism because it got me looking at the Sonnets in another way, even if I didn’t agree with it.
The fact that Oscar Wilde managed to write this literary criticism in a form of a story was equally impressive. The whole story has this real gothic feel about it and the character of Willie Hughes showed vampiric characteristics in the way he destroyed lives, in particular Cyril’s. Yet another similarity to My Life as a Fake is the whole idea that literature or the author can be portrayed as a monster.
I read this story as social criticism, looking at the homo-eroticism of Shakespeare’s Sonnets and question if a particular piece of text has any effect on the value of the art form. I don’t know many people complaining about the homoerotic nature of Shakespeare but I’ve heard complaints about it when referring to Oscar Wilde. Wilde was a big believer in celebrating art as being art and not letting the opinion of the artist affect it. This means The Portrait of Mr. W.H. is a satirical look at the art, where you have to take a more literal approach and explore the life of William Shakespeare as an artist and its connection to the Sonnets.
Oscar Wilde tantalises the reader with his literary and social criticism, mix in the satirical nature of this story and the wit of the author and you have a compelling read. One thing I’ve been thinking about is the connection between this story and The Picture of Dorian Gray which I would like to leave you with. They both share very similar titles but in Dorian Gray you have a portrait that ages and the reader see the truth, of Gray and all his sins. While in The Portrait of Mr. W.H. the picture of Willie Hughes is a lie and I have to wonder the meaning behind this imagery when comparing the two.