This truly is a classic tale of social insight, a story of one seeking acceptance and desiring companionship but being rejected and branded a monster.This truly is a classic tale of social insight, a story of one seeking acceptance and desiring companionship but being rejected and branded a monster. The thing that I liked most about this book is the fact that it’s divided into two accounts, designed to view both sides of the story. The first part of the book ‘Frankenstein’ tells the story of the life of Victor Frankenstein, the creation of Monster Frankenstein and the death of his younger brother William. A servant ‘Justine’ has been put on trial for this murder, but Victor knows the identity of the true killer. Monster Frankenstein and Victor finally meet up and despite his desire to kill his creation, Victor is forced to listen to the monster’s story, after being threatened.
‘The Modern Prometheus’ tells the story of the Monster Frankenstein, confused and unsure from the very first day of life, found himself hiding in the woods watching people and learning how to find food, create a fire and how to differentiate between the feelings of happiness and sadness. Watching a family in poverty taught Monster Frankenstein many things and he started chopping wood and shoveling snow for the family while they slept. His loneliness finally drove him to show himself to this family who ended up running away in fear. With a mixture of loneliness and anger, he seeks out his creator, finding his way to William where he decides to kidnap him for companionship and ends up accidentally strangling him.
This is where the two stories meet and monster Frankenstein pleads with Victor saying he’s ‘a good creature turned bad by unforgiving humans who scoffed at friendship’. The monster pleads with Victor to make him a companion which he would take and never be heard from again. Victor reluctantly agrees but found it harder and harder to do, even though his family was in danger. Victor began to realize the female companion could wreck much havoc by giving birth to more monsters and refusing to be with the monster as a mate altogether. Monster Frankenstein swears revenge and goes about killing everyone close to Victor in attempt to show Victor what it feels like to be alone. As Frankenstein dies, the monster appears in his room and begs his dead body for forgiveness.
In the end the story has no true villain or hero. Monster Frankenstein and Victor Frankenstein were both portrayed as hero and villain. The story also leaves you wondering on how you treat others, do our actions end up turning people into a ‘monsters’? Overall this was a brilliant story, although the language was at times hard to understand, it is still worth the read.
Lolita is the highly controversial novel of Humbert Humbert, a middle-aged literature professor and his obsession with twelve year-old Dolores Haze. OLolita is the highly controversial novel of Humbert Humbert, a middle-aged literature professor and his obsession with twelve year-old Dolores Haze. Of whom he becomes a step father as well as being sexually involved. Considered one of the most controversial novels of the twentieth century, Lolita is known not just for the disturbing nature but for the unreliable narration and sophisticated writing style.
Vladimir Nabokov’s masterpiece, Lolita, is one of those books that are worth reading even if it makes you very uncomfortable. The protagonist is the villain who tries so hard to gain the readers sympathy through his sincerity and melancholy. But as the story progress you can even see that he has lost of sympathy for himself and starts referring to himself as maniac who deprived Dolores of her childhood. The novel provides a remarkable perspective into the mind of a man you just want to hate and I will admit it can be a little exciting to watch him go through hell. Nabokov writes a hated character in the hope to knock him around and give him some humility and the reader is left wondering if he will learn from his mistakes.
This has often been described as an erotic novel, even the Great Soviet Encyclopedia called Lolita “an experiment in combining an erotic novel with an instructive novel of manners”. Personally I think of this book as a satirical tragedy with elements of eroticism and remorse. The narrator spends a fair chunk of the book begging the reader to understand that he is not proud of his actions and he is often stricken with guilt at the awareness of robbing Lolita of her childhood. But there is a case to be made at the fact that this is just an exploitation of a weak adult by a corrupt child but this can be problematic and not something I wish to go into great deal about.
The novel as a whole is a very one sided argument, we know how Humbert feels about the entire situation; we hear this to a very sickening degree. He has remorse but his obsession keeps him from ever changing, but one has to wonder what was really going through the mind of Dolores. I have to wonder how she sees the situation or even what she was thinking or feeling throughout the novel. We, as readers, can only surmise since we are forced to absorb Humbert’s feelings.
It is interesting to point out just how two dimensional all the characters are; all except himself and Lolita, which he goes into great detail. It reminds me of life; people tend to describe each other in a two dimensional manner unless we are obsessed with or interested in the person. This technique of writing really added to the realistic feeling of this book.
Lolita was a really awkward and sickening novel to read, there aren’t many books out there that have made me sick to my stomach. Lolita pulls off that feeling that horror novels try to achieve yet often get wrong – that feeling of uneasiness for the reader. This is my second read of this novel, so I knew what to expect and I was able to look past the controversial elements and focus on what this book can offer to the literary world.
Apart from the elements of oppression and an authority figure trying to assert their dominance this book explores tragicomedy, unreliable narration, irony and because Vladimir Nabokov is a Russian it could be a metaphor for totalitarianism. There are many themes you can explore within the novel but the one that will stick in most people’s minds is the lasting damage created by child sexual abuse.
Interestingly enough Vladimir Nabokov is a surrealist often linked to Gogol, Dostoevsky, and Kafka which make you wonder about some of the elements of this book even more. With a love of intricate word play and synesthetic detail Lolita turns into a wry observation of western culture. The novel is full of cleaver word play, double entendres, multilingual puns and in the end when you boil done to why people love it, it is just a beautifully written novel.
You may not enjoy reading this book but you might enjoy having read it. I have to admit that I enjoyed this book more the second time around; there is great beauty to be found in this book and while content makes this book difficult to get through it is well worth the effort. I remember one of my first blog posts on literature was called “What Would You Read in an Introduction to Fiction Course” where I listed the books I’d include if I was to create an introduction to Fiction course and Lolita was one of my choices. Having now reread this book, it just validates my choice even more, there is so much to explore in this book that it has been put back on my list of books to reread.
As literary science fiction, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a classic novel of the social science fiction sub-genre, the terms and concepts of Big Brother, dAs literary science fiction, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a classic novel of the social science fiction sub-genre, the terms and concepts of Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, Memory hole et cetera, became contemporary vernacular, including the adjective Orwellian, denoting George Orwell’s writings and totalitarianism as exposited in Nineteen Eighty-Four. George Orwell has mastered the art of writing, and dystopian societies so much so that even now days there is a sense of science fiction and relevants to our society....more
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is often considered one of the greatest novels of all time; the story of proud William Darcy and the prejudices of EJane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is often considered one of the greatest novels of all time; the story of proud William Darcy and the prejudices of Elizabeth Bennett. From Lizzie’s perspective their spirited courtship plays out on the page; in this witty comedy of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in early 19th century society.
Most of you would already know this story; you’ve probably seen an adaptation or two in your time. For me, I was never interested in reading this book, I knew what it was about but I never knew what to expect. Eventually I had to read this book, in part for university and because it’s a classic that will always remain on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die List. This is the novel that just will not die; 200 years later since this was published the book still sits very often in the top ten in a lot of bookstores and other literary lists. It’s been adapted multiple times as well as been retold many times (highlights include Lost in Austen & The Lizzie Bennett Diaries). The novel has also inspired a range of other books including books by Georgette Heyer, Agatha Christie and Helen Fielding.
First of all I want to look at Jane Austen’s attempt to play with the traditional quest format to offer us this rather clever novel. Let’s look at the novel from a traditional storytelling point of view. The potential princes in this novel; Darcy was considered clever and cold, Mr Wickham was too hot, then there was Mr Collins, the one that could save the ‘castle’ who should be just right, but he was not warm but tepid and boring. The pattern is reshaped and slowly the princess’ heart has been won, even if she doesn’t know it straight away. Then Austen needs to make the suitor eligible to win over the heroine; so she sends him on a quest to win Lizzie’s heart. Then like all quest stories, the story ends abruptly, with a marriage and a happy ending. This ancient pattern only provided the basic story structure for Jane Austen to weave her story into.
The interesting thing about this novel is the fact that this book has no physical action in the entire book; the novel rather concerns itself with the complexity of courtship and marriage in the landowning classes in provincial England. Austen writes about the people she knows, doing the activities we would expect them to do. Yet she manages to write it with such wit and skill that the novel refreshing and remained so popular.
Elizabeth Bennett is clearly Austen’s favourite in the book; the character is stronger and smarter than even the men in the book. Yet she goes to great lengths to make sure that this is believable. While she is clever, Lizzie still has romance/the sublime on her mind; her references to the Lake Distracts could be considered evidence of this. I feel like Jane Austen is trying to show that a woman like Lizzie should be deserving of the family home more than someone like Mr Collins. The Bennett’s are not middle class in this novel; Mr Bennett doesn’t work, he is a man of leisure, landowners but without a son their property will be inherited by Mr Collins. So we have this impending doom (according to Mrs Bennett) with only one hope of saving the family, marriage. When Lizzie Bennett rejects Mr Collins and eventually marries Darcy, Austen tries to tell us that character matters more than rank when it comes to romance, but then there is still a whole lot to do with rank and class that remains within the novel.
At the start of the novel Lizzie and Darcy hate each other but by the end they are the perfect couple. So what is Austen trying to tell us with this change in momentum? To do this let’s look at the other relationships; First off there is some evidence that Mr and Mrs Bennett got married at a very young age, lust had brought the two together and there might have been a pregnancy. Now that the lust has cooled they find they have nothing in common. Mr Collins and Charlotte are almost the opposite; there is no passion in their marriage, it was more of a business arrangement, no kids and unhappy in their marriage. Mr Bingley and Jane are just smitten with each other; there is no real evidence that there is anything more than just an infatuation. So when it comes to Lizzie and Darcy, they are written as the opposite, they are not smitten, they have to make their way there. They develop a healthy respect and admiration as well as love. All the details are focused on Lizzie and Darcy; all the other characters are rather underdeveloped, they feel more like caricatures, yet we still need to look at the other couples to see what Austen was trying to achieve.
Now I want to look more at the writing and style rather than character and plot. Pride and Prejudice started off as an epistolary novel, it has been said that this was originally written as a series of letters; this is why there is a huge lack of character description. This is also a novel of wit so let’s focus more on how Jane Austen achieves that.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
Looking at the very first line we get a sense of Austen’s ironical attacks; Bingley and Darcy both have women lined up but both don’t seem too keen to marry. Single men with large fortunes have the luxury of doing what they want. It is only Mrs Bennett that is trying to convince the reader that the opening line is indeed true. Just in the first few lines we can see the subtlety of Austen’s language. This book is full of other slight digs at society and it took me a second read through to really see them, but they are there and I suspect that is why this book continues to remain popular; no matter how many times you read this book there is still something to discover.
Jane Austen likes to dig at the concepts at Class and Courtship, but more so towards love and marriage. It is interesting to see that many people read this book at face value and just gloss over any attempt at irony in this book. This book is riddled with discursive and dramatic irony but to Jane Austen’s credit she was able to do it in such a subtle way that it can be easily overlooked or missed. For a cynical person like me, it was this irony that I respect the most. I love that you can read this book as a great romance or as an ironic look at love and marriage. While the irony plays out in the book, Jane Austen’s fundamental optimism makes sure no damage was done and the outcome is a happy one.
I expected Pride and Prejudice to be a romance, exploring the courtship of Lizzie and Darcy, which it is, but I was so pleased that there was so much more in this novel to explore. I read this novel and then went back and reread this novel right away; this was mainly because I needed to for Uni but I found this deliciously cynical voice come through the second time that changed my opinion of this book. I’m not sure if Jane Austen’s novels are always so ironic but if they are, she has found herself a new fan.
Lea, Avishag and Yael grow up in a small town on the Israel/Lebanon border leaving normal teenage lives. The People of Forever Are Not Afraid tells thLea, Avishag and Yael grow up in a small town on the Israel/Lebanon border leaving normal teenage lives. The People of Forever Are Not Afraid tells the story of these three normal Israeli girls from passing notes in school, talking about boys to turning eighteen and being conscripted into the army. Winner of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” authors to watch list in 2011, Shani Boianjiu’s debut novel is a coming of age novel unlike any before. Growing up in this intense war torn world changes everything, even for three normal teenage girls.
First thing I would like to say is I was hugely impressed with The People of Forever Are Not Afraid, I never expected to find a New Adult novel that offers so many different elements. While this seems to be marketed as a Young/New Adult novel, I think this is because the old “coming of age” formula seems to go hand and hand with these two genres. Though this is so much different; these three girls are plucked from their normal teenage lives, put into the army and forced to grow up rather quickly.
There are some really interesting themes throughout this novel. Firstly there are the major themes of growing up as an Israeli girl and conscription, and Shani Boianjiu is the voice of experience here; at the age of 18, she entered the Israeli Defence Forces and served for two years. So you get the sense that maybe this novel is semi-autobiographical but not knowing much about the author I wonder which of the three girl’s best resembles her. Though I have a feeling that Lea, Avishag and Yael all have an element of Boianjiu in them; I like how she has the three different personalities within the book to help show the how war really effects a person.
This brings us to the theme of War; while for the most of the book they are living in a perpetual state of war, the conflict between Israel and Lebanon still puts them into real danger. Though the reader has to ask themselves if eighteen too young to deal with war; they are still in a state of self-discovery when they are thrown into such an extreme situation. I know it is part of their heritage but when you talk about war and even RPG children (“children who tried to shoot RPGs at soldiers and ended up burning each other because they were uninformed, and children”) you really have to wonder how old is old enough to deal with war.
Finally, the book looks at the influence western society has on the Middle Eastern culture; I’m sure girls thought about boys and sex but there is a definite changing that comes through in the novel. References to Dawson’s Creek and Mean Girls and the whole attitude towards relationships (breaking up every week) and sex really feels more like something from an American teen drama than an Israeli town. I don’t know much about their culture but I know enough about pop-culture and the difficulties that western society has on Muslim and Jewish heritage to notice this real culture clash.
The People of Forever Are Not Afraid really is an interesting New Adult novel; it is smart and thought provoking and yet it’s really funny as well. I remember the cheesy lines made me chuckle like the idea of a mother not wanting her daughter to have a party because she was worried that her friends will break her hymen. All these elements seem to work together to produce a novel that is both easy to read and unlike anything I’ve read before.
I was never sure what to make of The People of Forever Are Not Afraid but I’m glad I had a chance to read this novel. It’s a debut novel that shows us that Shani Boianjiu is an author to watch in the future. It’s not without its flaws, the repetitiveness got to me a little but in the end all the good aspects of this book outshined any problems. It’s the type of novel that made me want to turn back to page one and start reading it again. I’m not a fan of Young Adult and New Adult novels in general but I can’t help but recommend this one to all readers.
This is the perfect example of what James M. Cain is capable of, gritty, minimalistic and fast paced. I’ve read this book before and it was nice to reThis is the perfect example of what James M. Cain is capable of, gritty, minimalistic and fast paced. I’ve read this book before and it was nice to reread. The Postman Always Rings Twice is liked watching a car wreck about to happen; you know that things will get bad, but you may not know what exactly happens. I’m a big fan of Cain; he really is the master of the Noir genre. I remember the movie and it worked really well as a movie; even if there are a few differences the feel of the book translated perfectly. Cain is considered the father of writing some great books like Mildred Pierce and Double Indemnity; but The Postman Always Rings Twice is the best example of what his work. ...more
Markheim is a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson the story was later published in Stevenson’s collection The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables.Markheim is a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson the story was later published in Stevenson’s collection The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables. One of my all time favourite Short Stories from the master, Robert Louis Stevenson....more
Nick Carraway moves in next door to the young and mysterious millionaire,Jay Gatsby. Nick is soon following the dramas of Gatsby’s quixotic passion foNick Carraway moves in next door to the young and mysterious millionaire, Jay Gatsby. Nick is soon following the dramas of Gatsby’s quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. Often hailed as the “Great American Novel”, F Scott Fitzgerald’s magnum opus is a portrait of the Jazz Age and the great American dream.
We all know the story, we’ve either been forced to read it in school or we’ve seen the movie, I wanted to reread this in the lead up the terrifying new adaptation by Baz Luhrmann. I remember reading it when I first started become a serious reader and I thought I would look at what I originally wrote and try and dissect and expand on it now that I think I’ve improved in reading critically.
First of all “One of the most interesting aspects of The Great Gatsby is the Point of View”, while this has probably been covered many times by people I will just cover this off again. Carraway tells the story of a group of destructive personalities but first you have to understand Nick before trying to understand the others.
Without going into anything controversial by claiming Nick Carraway was bisexual and in love with Jay Gatsby, let’s just say he idolised him. A Yale graduate, World War I veteran and relatively well off (inherited money), Carraway moves in next door to the charismatic and much talked about Jay Gatsby. But this leads to the question of just what is the relationship between Nick and Gatsby; is Jay using Carraway to get closer to Daisy? I think there friendship was real, Nick envied the person Jay was and he in return grew fond of Carraway.
"The book does a decent job at shedding light on the egotistical, desire driven tendencies of human nature." While this is true I think to expand on this you really need to look at what F Scott Fitzgerald was trying to do with this book, and to do that we must first look at the colour scheme (weird I know). There are two primary colours that play an essential role in this book. Firstly, green, the light over the river on the East Egg dock. The representation of Gatsby’s hopes and dreams, the green light represents the American dream. This would be considered objectification, that Gatsby believes that his American dream is to have Daisy.
The other major colour in this book is Gold or Yellow, the symbol of wealth and beauty. I think Yellow and Gold play as much of a significant role as the green light. This is true American goal; wealth and beauty, to be able to live without a care in the world. This is what I think Fitzgerald was trying to show us; like I said in my original review of this novel, these people are egotistical and desire driven and I think the author wanted us to see that. The problem with a carefree life is the fact that you don’t care about anything other than yourself and you don’t realise just how destructive that can be.
"Carraway starts out starry eyed towards high society but slowly becomes more and more uncomfortable with the unrestrained materialism and lack of morality that comes with it." I think that Carraway found himself sucked into high society and captivated by the presence of Gatsby. While in some respects he remains an outsider, he tries desperately to fit in and pursue the idea of the American Dream. The Great Gatsby tries to highlight the decline of this so called American dream, which originally was about discovery, uniqueness, and the pursuit of happiness but in the 1920s it seemed to decline and represent easy money and a social of leisure.
"F. Scott Fitzgerald paints a unique literary picture of the time and life style, with interesting, snooty and slightly annoying characters." I will admit that I sigh every time I read this sentence. Why was I the type of person that wanted likeable characters? Just because I hate these people, doesn’t mean that the book isn’t great and that they don’t have anything significant to teach. These people are supposed to be unlikeable, Fitzgerald isn’t trying to show us how great high society is; he wants to point out the flaws and what he sees as the decline of the American dream.
"Everyone seems so self-absorbed and never think of each other; which helped drive the story beautifully." We can probably argue if this really is the great American novel or even the great Jazz age novel. I know a lot of people hated this novel but I think there is so much this book can teach us and it’s less than 200 pages. F Scott Fitzgerald did a brilliant job of layering everything on top of each other that I feel the need to read this book again (already) just to see what I might pull out of it this time.
Someday I would like to do a post about motifs because there are so many recurring themes in the book, I think this would be a perfect novel to explore the idea of what a motif is. I read all the reviews from people that hate this book and I feel like I want to use that dreaded saying, "I don’t think you got what this book is trying to do". But I hope this helps understand what this book really is about; while pointing out what you think I got wrong.
I reread this novel in anticipation of the new adaptation, which I’m scared about; I remember the old movie and think it failed to capture the true essence of this novel. This leads to two questions I want to ask the readers; "Is The Great Gatsby unfilmable?" and "Was Gatsby truly great?". I know my answers, so I’ll be interested to see what others think. I’m surprised how much fun I had dissecting my original thoughts and expanding on them.
In a complex and disturbing string of events, William Lee finds himself fleeing from the police. While on the run, this drug addict finds himself jourIn a complex and disturbing string of events, William Lee finds himself fleeing from the police. While on the run, this drug addict finds himself journeying across the United States and into Mexico. His travels lead him into the underground world of both drug and homosexual culture. The counter story revolves around the use of mind control by the government and psychiatrists to manipulate and direct the public.
Considered one of the most important novels of the twentieth century, William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch is a bizarre cut up narrative protesting the death penalty. You got that the book was trying to do that from the synopsis right? Naked Lunch is a non-linear narrative that does make it really difficult to summarise the plot. Burroughs is famously known for his cut-up narrative; which is a literary technique that can be traced back to the Dadaists in the 1920s. For more information about Burroughs and cut-up check out my post called William S. Burroughs & Surrealist Writing Methods.
The book looks into two key groups; the drug and homosexual subcultures. The two unite early in the novel by the narrator but are never mutually exclusive. At the start of the book William Lee believes he will be punished more harshly for his involvement in homosexual activities than using and selling illegal drugs, which is really sad to think that people are being still victimised over their sexuality and drugs have just become socially acceptable.
Then the subplot largely focuses on the way in which psychotherapy combines with the government to institute mind control. Dr Benway experiments on ways to manipulate the minds of his patients in order to further his research. With no ethical consideration, he often changes his patient’s sexual identity and then tries to cure them. He also creates a mental controlling device for the towns as a way to use the population for his sadistic experiments and put them through psychological torture. Many of these experimental towns are based on the utopian idea and Burroughs like to explore the problems with the idea in a rather sinister way.
So how is this novel a protest to the death penalty? Well that would be in the same way Jonathan Swift’s Modest Proposal ideals with economics. William S. Burroughs uses Juvenalian satire to highlight the barbaric, disgusting and anachronism of capital punishment. While the sex in Naked Lunch can be considered as mutual satisfaction sometimes, it is also used as a metaphor (especially in the more violent sexual acts) for defeating an enemy, self serving idol worshipping and capital punishment. The results of these metaphors are often confusing, shocking, taboo and sickening. Sex is a powerful tool with this novel and while it does look at sex and relationships in a positive way (rarely), the majority is used to symbolise the dark and cynical themes within the book.
William Lee is obviously William S. Burroughs alter ego and the book can be read as a semi-autobiographical novel through a serious drug addiction but like Infinite Jest there is so much more going on. This book did remind me a lot of Infinite Jest; not just with how it dealt with drug addiction but the way it used very dark themes to look at other social issues. William S. Burroughs had a similar experience to the narrator, taking trips around the world in order to avoid being arrested. Even the addition and sexual experimentation is similar to the authors own experiences, as part of his attempts to separate himself from mainstream culture. William S. Burroughs is a fascinating man and I’m interested to learn/blog more about him.
I’m not sure what the difference between the original and restored text but I did read the restored edition. While this was a really weird and somewhat difficult book to get though there is so many interesting themes to explore that I feel very satisfied by completing this novel. It is disturbing and some of it will make you feel sick to your stomach and I can understand why people hate this book. This is a really intense novel that will drain you emotionally and mentally. The book is full of violent and graphic sex, so it will never be for everyone but I can see why it is an important novel, not just because of the obscenity trial but also for all the themes.
I’ve not read many Beat novels in my life, I think On the Road was the only other one but I do like the gritty and surreal approach both books take. I’m not sure if this is a major theme for all beat novels but if so, I will have to read more. I doubt I’ll ever return to Naked Lunch simply because of how disturbing some of the scenes are but I know I can be completely satisfied with having read this one and judging by this review, I can also take comfort in the fact I was able to pick it apart and understand some of the themes.
After landing in Miami, Freddy Frenger Jr. (or Junior as he prefers to be called) steals three wallets and begins to plan his new life. While leavingAfter landing in Miami, Freddy Frenger Jr. (or Junior as he prefers to be called) steals three wallets and begins to plan his new life. While leaving the airport he snatches a suitcase and leaves a corpse of a Hare Krishna behind. Detective Hoke Moseley is on the case; chasing Junior and his new hooker girlfriend through luxury hotels and the suburban streets of Miami.
If this sounds really familiar then you’ve probably seen the 1990 movie of the same name starring Alec Baldwin and Jennifer Jason Leigh. While there are some major differences to the two, the majority of the book is exactly the same. I’m a little disappointed when I found out this was the first in the Hoke Moseley series, because I always thought of the detective as a supporting role. In the movie Junior steals Moseley’s badge and starts pretending to be a cop to con people; this was the best part of the movie. Sadly in the book there isn’t much of that going on.
Charlies Williford is an author of fiction, poetry, an autobiography, and literary criticism but he is best known for his hard-boiled writing. I think it is weird that he was a poet and literary critic as well as pulp writer, but then again I really shouldn’t be. It’s just an interesting fact about the author. When you think 1980’s hard-boiled novels, Miami Blues is probably going to be one of the top nominations on that list. Charlies Williford was such a prolific writer, with over forty novels published, it is kind of sad that he is best known for the Hoke Moseley series that he wrote very late in his life. I wonder what some of his other books were like, there seems to be a whole lot of hard-boiled novels in the 1950’s and 1960’s that look interesting.
This book is an example of the noir sub-genre Florida glare which is basically a crime novel set in Florida where the heat and the culture play a role in the story as well. Noir is typically associated to LA and there have been some writers out there that wanted to depict Florida as the perfect location for crime stories as well. Some examples of this include the Travis McGee (by John D. MacDonald), Jack Ryan (by Elmore Leonard), and Dexter Morgan (by Jeff Lindsay) series and I’m sure many more. It is an interesting concept though do we really need another genre? I like how the heat of Florida plays a part in the book and the environment is almost like a supporting character.
This was a quick read and one of the rare cases where I think I prefer the movie over the book. I wonder if there are any more noir novels where a character pretends to be a cop in order to con people; I’m sure there are plenty out there, I like the concept and would like to read more of them. I think I’ll have to try another Charlies Williford, maybe something earlier. Does anyone want to recommend me a good Charlies Williford novel?
The Culture war rages across the galaxy. Billions have died, and just as many are doomed. Planets, moons and even stars are at risk of destruction. ThThe Culture war rages across the galaxy. Billions have died, and just as many are doomed. Planets, moons and even stars are at risk of destruction. The Idirans fought for their faith and the Culture for their moral right to exist. For Horza and his crew land, they are stuck somewhere in the middle of this conflict. Both the Culture and the Idirans are after one thing, but when Horza finds, it his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine may have sealed their own destruction.
Prolific author Iain Banks is known for his literary novels but when he writes his seminal space opera series he uses the pseudonym Iain M. Banks. Sadly Banks lost his battle with cancer on the 9th of June 2013. I realised that I’ve never read anything by this author and since I had Consider Phlebas, I thought this was the place to start; Book One in the Culture series.
I will admit I haven’t read much space opera in the past and I feel like I’ve gone off Science Fiction, well the modern ones at least. I love the old Sci-Fi novels of the 1950’s-1970’s; they blend these futuristic stories with some really interesting philosophical ideas and I miss that type of stuff. When I started reading Consider Phlebas I thought just maybe this will be the series that returns me to those awesome philosophical sci-fi novels. There was some slight philosophical ideas in the novel but that got drowned out by the fast paced plot.
The Culture is a post-scarcity society. A symbiotic society of artificial intelligences (AIs) (Minds and drones), humanoids and other alien species all sharing equal status. We know what aliens and humanoids are but let me quickly explain Minds; these are powerful and intelligent AIs so advance they are self-aware. Almost like a futuristic Skynet but with designs to be treated as equals with the rest of the universe. The Idirans are a major galactic race; they have all the control and want to supress everyone else. They are a deeply religious group who believe in a ‘rational’ God who wants a better existence for his creation. Now that we have explained both sides of the war, feel free to draw the symbolism out of it. Example: The Idirans are Americans, or the Church in medieval times and the Culture are anyone that stands against them. It really is up to you on how you want to interpret this.
The thing I often find hard about these type of Science Fiction and Fantasy novels, is you have to spend so much time trying to work out who each race is and if they represent something relevant to our own history. Once you spent all your time working that out, then you have to write it all down because there are so many you need to reference back to as you go along. Having done that, now you have a slightly better chance at understanding just what the hell is going on with the books. Some people pick this up really easily and just fly through these books fully understanding or just thinking of them as race a, race b and so on. I can’t do that, I want to pull interesting information out of a book and I know that there can be a lot of symbolism in these novels but there is a lot of work involved with working that out before you can even start to read the book.
I feel like I have hit the wall with Science Fiction (I’m not talking about dystopian or post-apocalyptic novels but the Sci-Fi set in space) and maybe I need to read a classic just to get myself out of this rut. As a literary explorer I try these newer Sci-Fi novels in the hopes to find a new and interesting author but most of the time it’s in vain. Don’t get me wrong, once I worked out my own analogy for The Idirans and The Culture I was able to enjoy this book but it feels like too much work. I like working for it while reading but in the cases like Consider Phlebas I think all the work needs to be done before you really start to get into the book and that just doesn’t really appeal to me. Now I’ve worked out a basic idea of this world, I might continue the series. The imagery and the pacing of this book is great and I think Iain M Banks did a great job with it, but I think I might try an Iain Banks book instead; did someone say The Wasp Factory?
As most of you know, I really enjoy Russian literature and Notes from Underground is my first attempt at reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I found it a greaAs most of you know, I really enjoy Russian literature and Notes from Underground is my first attempt at reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I found it a great place to start; it wasn’t very long, it was fairly easy to read and it was still as beautifully written as all the other Russian novels I’ve read. Notes from Underground is the story of a bitter isolated man (known to the world as the underground man) and his monolog about life and the problems with western philosophy. Considered by many as the first real existentialist novel, Notes from Underground is an interesting read; not for everyone but worth it, if you are interested in existentialist or philosophy. ...more
A Clockwork Orange tells the story of Alex, your humble narrator; a disturbing 15 year old anti-hero and leader among his droogs. I was expecting a daA Clockwork Orange tells the story of Alex, your humble narrator; a disturbing 15 year old anti-hero and leader among his droogs. I was expecting a dark and gruesome dystopian novel when I started reading this classic and I did get this but I did get something much better. I remember watching the movie a long time ago, so some of the story line was unclear to me, I remember part one clearly but couldn’t remember the rest happening – I guess this made the book more enjoyable.
Alex and his friends are a typical bunch; of what I would expect from an English gang. They had their own language, which sometimes was difficult to understand (example: droog = friend, golova = head, Bog = God and khorosho = Good). Alex is a really disturbed man, and watching him change through experimental behaviour-modification treatment is a real eye opener. Having reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest recently the two books seem to have similarities. I believe both came out about the same time (1962) and might be a reflection of the time, but the topic of behaviour and mental health seem to go hand in hand.
Without giving anything away, this novel is a dark and really interesting book, I can imagine many people have spent a lot of time analysing the themes and characters in this book. While I can’t get past the similarities in style and concept between this book and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (I wonder if I’m alone in this opinion) I hope to come back to this book again for a re-read. There is a lot in this book and can’t wait to go though the book again and pick it apart. To use a phrase from this book (I'm sure many people do the same); this book is a real horrorshow....more
The Reader tells the story of the teenage years of Michael Berg while recovering from hepatitis and his passionate affair with a mysterious woman twicThe Reader tells the story of the teenage years of Michael Berg while recovering from hepatitis and his passionate affair with a mysterious woman twice his age. Later going on to study law and discovering that this woman was involved in the death march from Auschwitz. The book continues on through the war crimes trial and the relationship between the two after her imprisonment.
Bernhard Schlink was born in 1944 (one year before the war ending), studied law then became a professor of public law and the philosophy of law. His passion for reading comes from a teacher in his high school who encouraged his reading and discovery of literature. Later he discovers that this teacher was a member of the Gestapo and involved in some questionable practices. His first series of books featuring a sixty year old private investigator Gerhard Selb (Selb translates to Self) also had a questionable past during the war and his coming to terms with this. This is interesting since the books in the series are called; Self’s Punishment, Self’s Deception and Self’s Murder. Also he has a collection of essays called Vergangenheitsschuld which translates to Guilt about the Past, which leads you to believe that Bernhard Schlink has a fascination about the effect of World War II has on the next generation of Germans.
This is not a book about the Holocaust novel; while this historical event plays a role, this is rather a novel that gives you a lot of questions and problems to think through. Divided into three parts; the summer of love, the trial and imprisonment; The Reader explores three different scenarios as well as the notion of keeping secrets. At the start of the book Hannah comes across as Good Samaritan trying to help Michael who was throwing up in the street. Later he pursues her and she gets an impression that he is old enough to be out of school; he doesn’t correct her, thinking the papers he leaves behind was enough for her to know his true age but we later finds out she would never have looked at them. When she finds out, they are in bed together and he tells her that he is skipping classes to be with her. She throws him out and it’s not until very later in the book we discover just how important education is to her. Hannah is his first love, he is too young to fully understand the kind of relationship they are having, while Hannah remains guarded and tries to protect both her public and private shames.
While most people focus mostly on the relationship between the two, but there is so much more to look at in the novel. Years later Michael finds Hannah again in a trial and the reader is asked to consider two things; the nature of her guilt and the significance of her other secret (the one she is more ashamed of it). While she was never the ringleader of her charges and she was following orders, when it came to the damning report, she let the court believe she wrote it to continue to hide her illiteracy. This brings to the overall concept to the book; ignorance is not necessarily innocence. The pride to protect herself from people discovering of her illiteracy works against her though out the entire book. She gives up promotions and lands herself in prison all to protect this secret.
This leads into the third part; years later we find that Michael starts reading to Hannah once again. Sending cassettes both the reader and Hannah mistakenly get the impression that this is an act of affection and when Hannah eventually finds out, we also find out just how cold he has been acting. I’m not sure if he was trying to gain back the power in their relationship or just the bitterness of his life doing it but we are led to believe he still cares about Hannah when all he really cares about is that summer fling when he was still a teenager.
The book wants you to recognise that you are the reader, and Hannah, in particular, wants you to realise just how blessed you are to be able to read this book. I remember there was a great movie adaptation of this book a while ago; while very meta to have a movie about reading, I’m surprised how well it came together. I didn’t remember much about this movie while I read this but it all come back to me as I discovered it in the book. It was a great feeling to remember as I read and not know what would happen next.
I really loved this book; there is that element of uncomfortableness with the relationship at the start, which really is something people can be afraid to talk about but with a book like this it can be scandalous. There are also so many other interesting elements that I think are equally valuable; especially with the whole German shame towards what they did in World War II and the next generation having to deal with it. While the movie closely follows the book, it is still worth reading; I highly recommend it.
I'm not sure how to review poetry. I don't read much of it, but I love the romantics and seem to have entrenched myself with their works. so I wantedI'm not sure how to review poetry. I don't read much of it, but I love the romantics and seem to have entrenched myself with their works. so I wanted to try something different and this seems to be a highly recommend collection. I enjoyed it, it was bold, lyrical but felt overly optimistic, which I'm not into. ...more