I love this book. This is is definitely the most tender book I have ever read. That might sound like a strange thing to say, but it is so true of The...moreI love this book. This is is definitely the most tender book I have ever read. That might sound like a strange thing to say, but it is so true of The Great Gatsby. The humanity that Fitzgerald seems to feel for his characters really shines through, even in those characters who are either minor or supposed to be unsympathetic (such as Wilson or Tom). It is a delicate book, full of beautiful and evocative language. It manages to cross so many genres, managing to be about all of them. I usually can't stand historical romance, but the 1920s setting was so perfect that it felt real (for obvious reasons), and by setting it from the perspective of Nick was just perfect to capture the distance and tragedy of Daisy and Gatsby's relationship. Not exactly fast but fluid. While I'm sure that Daisy/Gatsby gets a lot of love, I must voice my appreciation for Jordan and Nick, who were an excellent odd couple. I must say that this is one of the few books that truly hit me hard. I was moved emotionally, especially by the ending. This book is a classic for some very good reasons. An all-time favourite. Just...wow. I don't know what more to say because there are no real words to describe the beauty of it. Ooh, look, now I'm rambling...(less)
I can enjoy the bleakest of books. Living Dead Girl, for example, is one of the most brutal, unforgiving books I've ever read, and yet I...moreI don't know.
I can enjoy the bleakest of books. Living Dead Girl, for example, is one of the most brutal, unforgiving books I've ever read, and yet I still managed to find a kind of small, sick enjoyment - presumably in flipping the pages in a frenzy, panicking, never knowing what was going to happen next and not being sure if I wanted to know. I am using Living Dead Girl as an example because it's truly one of those helpless books, where a happy ending is just not possible.
The Bell Jar is like that but, then again, not. It involved me. It involved me in the worst possible way. While reading it, I felt like I was being slowly dragged under tepid water. There is a heavy inevitability to all that happens to Esther. I began to feel depressed myself, to be affected by Esther's "what's the point?" attitude towards everything. While I am immensely sympathetic to people who suffer from depression, I also think that depression is one of the worst emotions in the world. I hate any kind of involvement in that feeling whatsoever. In spite of Plath's talent, I began to hate reading The Bell Jar. Yet I couldn't stop.
Maybe this book should get five stars. Maybe it deserves them. But I can't bring myself to give them. There was no relish in The Bell Jar. There was no enjoyment. That is obviously the point -- Esther is seriously depressed and mentally ill, but still, Plath's depiction of her mental illness was so palpable that I couldn't see a light at the end of the tunnel, even when the (view spoiler)[quite hopeful ending (hide spoiler)] rolled around. I could write a lot of standard critiques, like "the characters were unlikeable", but I only feel that unlikeability truly counts if we're supposed to sympathise with and love the characters. Obviously not Plath's intention. There were "no driving questions" - true, because it was all to mirror Esther's increasingly lifeless and hopeless outlook.
Brief rant: however, I cannot see why this book is called a 'feminist' text. Why, because it revolves around an intellectual woman who isn't sure about getting married and having a family? Seriously, those are the only two components of Esther's character that I could really call 'feminist.' Maybe I have a skewed view of feminism, but to me, a feminist text is one that celebrates or depicts female triumph, success or, failing that, strength. To me, even the bleakest of books can be feminist if they revolve around a woman's strength (the movie Volver is my favourite example of this.) Yes, Sylvia Plath depicts the hypocrisy and incomprehension of men, particularly through Esther's first doctor, to the point where the novel borders on misandry; however, Esther also has a dislike of all people (with the exception of Dr. Nolan, who might be one of my favourite supporting characters ever), which makes it difficult to see this, and Esther's determination not to help herself, although I am well aware that this was probably a feature of Esther's depression and she should not be blamed for it, does undermine the whole "one woman against a corrupt and brutal system" conflict that feminists seem to play out. Also, to me, The Bell Jar is a novel about one woman's fundamental weaknesses and failures. Is it called feminist because it dealt with a very taboo subject? Granted, Plath/Esther (the two blur for me, since The Bell Jar is so blatantly autobiographical) has a horrible time in her first round of (view spoiler)[the much-reviled electroshock therapy (hide spoiler)], but her condition seems to improve after the first round. There's no real scathing take on mental institutions here. This isn't a novel about feminism. This is a novel about a woman. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Four stars for excellent execution. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Yes, there are flaws, which would/should have bumped thi...moreNineteen Eighty-Four is a novel of pure terror.
There is no other word to describe it. Terror.
Yes, there are flaws, which would/should have bumped this down to three stars for me. I couldn't feel anything at Winston and Julia's relationship. Julia, in particular, made me cringe as I felt that she was just a flat, irritating character. It's not that her and Winston's relationship was based solely on sex, because in a community like Airstrip One, sex was one of the best rebellions. She just didn't feel like a character to me -- she wasn't at all likeable, and not only in a deliberate way. There was nothing I could warm to or even actively dislike about her character; she was just a "mehhh" plot device. This wasn't really a book for "likeable" or "unlikeable" characters, but I wanted Winston to succeed. Despite the fact that he was quite a pathetic character, he held my attention throughout. Julia had me grinding my teeth and her portrayal - dare I say it? - felt a little sexist. Not because she wasn't a great intellectual or because she had sex with Winston or because she'd had sex before, nothing like that...I couldn't put my finger on it. There is just something about Julia (maybe a combination of her penance for calling Winston "darling" and rubbing her body against him as a way to calm him down) that left a bad taste in my mouth.
But that doesn't really matter. Because Nineteen Eighty-Four is the most disturbing book I have ever read.
There are no ghouls, no monsters, no serial killers around the corner. Nineteen Eighty-Four is dystopia at its best - harrowing, horribly compelling and horrifically plausible. I felt sick while reading it. I feel sick now, weeks after the fact, just thinking about it.
It is a virus. It gets inside your brain and devours.
It's a slow burn. Don't expect to be mind-shattered immediately. Hey, maybe you won't like it even after reading the whole thing the first time. But maybe, a day or a week or a month later, you'll find yourself still thinking about it. I am. Even now, the words "you do not exist" are still reverbrating in my mind, and they can still make me shudder. That very concept chills me to the bone, but is presented by Orwell with utter confidence and ruthlessness.
There is violence, but it's not the violence that is most frightening. It is the utter destruction of will and self. It is the mind rape. I know a lot of people find the use of the word "rape" in these context(s) offensive, but it's the only word I can think of for what the Ministry of Love does. It smashes your brain in with metaphorical - and occasionally literal - hammers and then builds it again. And the thought that it has happened before, and that it could happen to us, frightens me beyond comprehension. It is chilling and brilliant and it is hard-core, terrifying, plausible dystopian at its' very best.
One of my 'favourite' quotes (shortened here to keep it out of spoiler territory), and the one that I feel sums up the book best:
"How does one man prove his power over another?" "By making him suffer."
God, what a horrible, insufferable slog of a book. (This review refers solely to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, not the other "tales of...moreGod, what a horrible, insufferable slog of a book. (This review refers solely to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, not the other "tales of terror.")
My editions (GR doesn't list it) is 88 pages long. 88 pages has never felt longer or nastier or...yes, the crtiicism of the uneducated and impatient and blah blah blah, so BORING. It took me six days to read. For an 88 page book!
I'll admit it: I'm judging Jekyll and Hyde solely on the book I expected to get, rather than the book I got. Yes, you're not supposed to do that. But - but - The Strange Case is an example of a book whose central idea has actually far outlived the actual book itself. Jekyll and Hyde is not remembered for its gothic features or tension or atmospheric writing (none of them are in attendance here). It's become part of popular culture because it's such a goddamn fascinating concept: duality, the extent to which 'two' people can exist inside 'one', unspoken desires/needs, psychological horror. That's the book I wanted.
The book I got was instead an insufferable gothic melodrama with a totally bland plot device called Mr. Utterson fronting up the cast, and the titular Jekyll only making very occasional appearances. It is, most surprisingly of all, a mystery. Like Fight Club or The Usual Suspects or The Sixth Sense -- the fun is it not knowing the twist. Of course, almost everyone does. But the revelation that (oh, please, do I even have to put this in spoiler tags?) (view spoiler)[Jekyll and Hyde are one person (hide spoiler)] falls totally flat. The Strange Case is a gimmick, riding on a good twist, to excuse all the other totally mediocre, deriative and unoriginal elements. Don't bother reading, unless you've been under a rock your whole life and genuinely don't know the "big" twist. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
WARNING: Amateur Hour Review. I am not a Shakespeare genius and so my reasoning will be flawed, argumentat...moreWhat is it with Shakespeare and conclusions?
WARNING: Amateur Hour Review. I am not a Shakespeare genius and so my reasoning will be flawed, argumentative and served with a heavy dose of Missing The Point.
I LOVED the beginning of Macbeth. A dark, captivating and compelling story of ambition, murder and mad couples -- all the things I love in a play/novel/WORK OF ART! All of the characters seemed 'real' and human - something I've struggled with in Shakespeare as I've often felt that his characters behave with a heavy dose of plot awareness (e.g. they do the shit they do not because it's organic to the story, but because Shakespeare is trying to get his ducks in a row.) On the other hand, the mad, bad and brilliant of Macbeth were all beautifully drawn - particularly love for the supporting characters felt over here, particularly Banquo and his maybe suspicion/maybe paranoia/maybe nothing attitude towards Macbeth. Ghosts show up, Macbeth is going mad, Lady Macbeth is going mad, and there's something so gloriously dark and theatrical about it all. The ducks are in a row! And I'm still loving it!
I really feel as though I might be missing the point. Lady Macbeth, arguably the most fascinating character, disappears from the story almost altogether. Everyone plots while in exile from Macbeth in a way that confused me far more than I think it was supposed to. There's a lot of talkiness and none of the more minor male characters that appear later - e.g. Ross, Seyton - are interesting or unique in the slightest. The only one with the capability to induce some emotion in the audience is Macduff. His family's murder was arguably one of the better scenes in the later half of the play, also its' pathos is slightly dimmed by the fact that the murderers use "egg" in THE MOST HILARIOUS CONTEXT IMAGINABLE.
When Lady Macbeth finally (view spoiler)[commits suicide (hide spoiler)], she's been off-stage for so 'long' (not actually that long, but she has definitely faded from view in the middle of all the slightly messy wartime wranglings that the emotional impact is dimmed a little. Furthermore, the whole ending is totally undermined by the utter one-eighty done by Malcolm at a moment's notice. Probably the point (certainly a Shakespearean hallmark), but, still, it makes the victory seem a little hollow. Although, again, I was probably missing the point. I'm too stupid for Shakespeare.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
A creepy gothic chiller about the life of a spinster who makes Miss Havisham look stable. The perfect example of a story I admire but couldn't like, e...moreA creepy gothic chiller about the life of a spinster who makes Miss Havisham look stable. The perfect example of a story I admire but couldn't like, enjoy or engage with on any level. All the elements of successful gothic fiction are lined up in a row -- eerie small town, past setting, lonely spinster, small town folk with a don't-ask-don't-tell mentality, arsenic. And Faulkner carries them off well, but the distance from any kind of characters, as evidenced by the third-person narrative, was creepy but not particularly immersive. However, the ending is chilling and I admire the restraint and subtlety of Faulkner's prose - but there was none of the enjoyment or relish (no matter how sick) that comes from four- and five-star books from me.(less)
This is undoubtedly a play to be performed if one ever existed. Hedda is a brilliant female character - Lady Macbeth meets Betty Draper. She must be a...moreThis is undoubtedly a play to be performed if one ever existed. Hedda is a brilliant female character - Lady Macbeth meets Betty Draper. She must be applauded as a female character who is not a hero or a villain, not a bitch or a crone, but a cruel, neurotic, charismatic presence. I was surprised by the almost feminism of Ibsen's play, how he manages to serve Hedda so well, with fantastic dry wit - the subtlety of the scene between her and Judge Brack would be spine-chilling on stage - and glorious theatrics - I'm a big fan of the scene that opened the second scene, with Hedda's shooting. She's described as 'the female Hamlet', and I can see this comparison. For all the love Hedda gets, though, George/Jorgen, her husband, must get some recognition. If Hedda is Hamlet, then George is Ophelia; if Ophelia is the delicate child whom Hamlet destroys through his own selfishness, then the situation between George and Hedda is even more complex and open to interpretation. While Hedda claims to do an unselfish thing in (view spoiler)[burning the manuscript (hide spoiler)], something for her and George, but Ibsen still brilliantly captures George's impotence, his pathetic love for Hedda and childlike naivete to counter Hedda's merciless exploitation.(less)
Just lovely. Wilde is obviously the master of quotable awesomeness, with such lines as:
"I will wait for you all my life, if you are not too l...more4.5 stars
Just lovely. Wilde is obviously the master of quotable awesomeness, with such lines as:
"I will wait for you all my life, if you are not too long."
“To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”
“In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.”
The Importance of Being Earnest is mad. It is a truly effervescent play -- full of life and craziness and misunderstandings and one hundred and eighty degree turns. Everything I would criticise as trite, illogical and convenient if that weren't the whole point. The Importance of Being Earnest is a long, glorious joke. Except that it isn't. Amidst all the amazingly clever wordplay, outlandish scenes and scenarios, there is a fantastic satire of Victorian society. Comedy and satire are hard to get right -- I never think that Ben Elton gets the correct balance, for example -- but Wilde intertwines the two. Satire in modern literature seems too didactic, but WIlde avoids this altogether by interlocking comedy and satire until they are indistinguishable. The madness and absurdity of it all is the satire, and it's unbelievably enjoyable.(less)
"Count no man happy 'til he dies, free of pain at last."
Oedipus the King is sad but brutal, a very dark but moving tale that we think we all...more4.5 stars
"Count no man happy 'til he dies, free of pain at last."
Oedipus the King is sad but brutal, a very dark but moving tale that we think we all know -- but actually reading it, especially the raw emotion that is encapsulated in those last few pages, is crushing. This is the true definition of Greek tragedy, so any criticism I could heap on it seems very twenty-first century and almost inapplicable. However, I did take a star off because it measures my personal enjoyment -- the latter half of the play, from when the messenger emerges to say that Oedipus has blinded himself, is pure five-star material, a hammer to the heart.
Until then, Oedipus is a bit of a total assshole. I don't mean in his determination for the truth, or even his ignorance about the revelation - seriously, if you thought your real parents were hundreds of miles away, would it be easy for you to acknowledge the concept that you could have run away and still somehow wound up married to your mother? I've read critical essays about Oedipus, and I'm not trying to say he had a 'fatal flaw' or anything, because he wasn't that insufferable with it all, but if there was a key problem with Oedipus the King, I felt that it was just too short. I didn't get enough of a rounded picture and I wanted more of Jocasta and Oedipus's marriage for the eventual revelation to have absolute resonance. Still, excellent, and it's not hard to see why it's a classic of Greek tragedy.(less)
Sorry, maybe that sounds fluffy and pretentious and vague. Because "Cannery Row" is n...more4.5 stars, oh so close to the magic 5
"Cannery Row" is about life.
Sorry, maybe that sounds fluffy and pretentious and vague. Because "Cannery Row" is none of those things. It's a beautiful, fluid novel about the life of minor characters in an area of California called Cannery Row. That's it. It's more like a series of vignettes than a story, but it was oh so heartbreaking. I could feel my heartstrings being tugged. Yet - it didn't feel like Steinbeck was trying to make me cry. (Though he almost made me. Several times.) There is something about Steinbeck's prose that just gets to me. He manages to perfectly balance larger observations about the movement of life - particularly in the beautiful prologue and the odd paragraphs where the tense shifts from past to present. Steinbeck has a wonderful prose style - a mixture of literary yet simple and direct that just affects me. Particularly the story about Frankie. While Steinbeck's prose is gentle and euphonic, almost mirroring the slow movement of life, he has a very stripped-down style that just hits me right there. "There was nothing he could do." Yet there is also long, ornate passages such as this one -
"[Cannery Row's] inhabitants are, as the man once said, 'whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches,' by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, 'saints and angels and martyrs and holy men,' and he would have meant the same thing.”
Also, the juxtaposition between what Steinbeck tells us and what he doesn't is amazing. For example, at the end, he never tells us that Doc is crying. Doc just wipes his eyes with the back of his hand, and we know. That is what I love about Steinbeck - the trust he places in his audience. He isn't like some of other 'great' Literary-with-a-capital-L writing, like Vladimir Nabokov, who puts great Intellectual trust in their readers, knowledge to know French and obscure literary and movie references. But he puts trust in them (us) all the same: he trusts us to know these characters, to understand what they're feeling, and recognise it. I just loved that. But more than anything, there was a real sense of life in this book. Particularly the beautiful paragraph where Mack and the boys plunge into the pond in search of frogs, and the frogs all run out of the pond in a desperate attempt to escape. Maybe you won't believe me, but there is incredible comedy and pathos in that one paragraph. Such as in the last line of the book, where Steinbeck takes us down Cannery Row to the animals that sleep around them. Steinbeck infuses his animal characters, like Darling, with a comic life that makes them feel just as real as the human characcters. Just as much as the humans that populate it, Cannery Row feels like a living place. Steinbeck says of Doc that "his mind had no horizon", and that is what I think of when I think of Steinbeck.
Actually, no, I'm sorry. "Cannery Row" isn't about life. It's about living. Highly recommended.(less)
Mrs. Dalloway is an easy book to admire, but it's not an easy book to like or - dare I say it? - love. At least, not to me.
It is a series of vignettes...moreMrs. Dalloway is an easy book to admire, but it's not an easy book to like or - dare I say it? - love. At least, not to me.
It is a series of vignettes. This is the first problem I had with it - I couldn't help but feel that Woolf tried to do so much, using a frame that was more like a series of interconnected short stories than a true whole. Was that the point? Perhaps the fragmented narrative was supposed to show the disconnection between the characters, the intense internal world that most of them inhabited vs. the real world that they were all wandering through. Still, I couldn't help but feel that that idea was best suited to a collection of short stories. I've seen a lot of people praising Woolf's insight, the way that she can encapsulate a broad range of emotions. Yet that was my fundamental problem with "Mrs. Dalloway" as a novel. The range is so broad, so sprawling, that it almost undermines the true moments of insight, such as the almost awful segment from Miss Kilman's perspective; her relentless binge-eating, as a comfort from a life of disappointments and shortcomings, is so viciously but brilliantly rendered that it had me cringing in my seat, but the impact of it felt lessened by the fact that I'd waded through 150+ pages before then of quite samey characters with quite samey narratives.
As I was saying, I liked "Mrs. Dalloway" in parts. The title is strange; it's not just a character study. Well, not one character. There are multiple characters, all of whom get quite similar moments in the limelight. The focus is more intensely honed on Peter Walsh or Septimus than Clarissa Dalloway herself. In addiiton to this, "Mrs. Dalloway" felt overlong to me. Despite being fairly short, it felt like a total slog to get through in parts. Although it takes a broad scope (the rich, the poor, the lucky and unlucky are all swept over by Woolf to a greater or lesser degree), most of the characters reflect on their predicaments in very similar. There are long memories of how their lives were; ruminations on how their lives are; loving evocation of London around them; more reflecting on the past; some unfair judgement of those around them; a brief, confusing topic shift and then a melodramatic high point punctuated by an exclamation mark!
Again, maybe Woolf is making a point about how all characters, whether rich, poor, shell-shocked or smug cycle through the same thoughts, how people really are alike all over. Still, this just felt so repetitive - the repetition is clever to begin with, showing how the same thoughts recur (Clarissa's hatred of Miss Kilman was great), but in the end, it just becomes a drag - and done in such an overlong, overheated way that I couldn't bring myself to care for any sustained period of time. Forget beating a dead horse -- Woolf pulps it. That brings me back to the scope and range of "Mrs. Dalloway": the emotions that the "Mrs. Dalloway" covers are, by nature, intense. But the length of the novel and the number of characters diffuses the intensity to such a degree that I just feel weary and irritated by it all. This is compounded by the fact that it covers a single day; the characters have thoughts that are strung together in a fairly coherent whole, but they are split up over a range of 20 pages before we return to them, which means that I can hardly remember it all.
I guess I was just too stupid for the deeper meanings of "Mrs. Dalloway."
Still, the setting of London is lovingly and evocatively told, and the final conversation between Sally Seton and Peter Walsh is lovely, a perfect encapsulation of what it feels like to meet people that you haven't seen in years, and - I imagine - what age must feel like. The book as a whole is sad but not morbid, both 'life-affirming' and affecting. The humour is fantastic - I found myself laughing out loud at some parts, but I wish it could have shown up with a little more frequency. In parts, the prose is so true that it actually hurts. My favourite section, without a doubt, is the final one:
"I will come," said Peter, but he sat for a moment. What is this teror? what is this ecstasy? he thought to himself. What is it that fills me with extraordinary excitement? It is Clarissa, he said. For there she was.(less)
This one was just a huge disappointment for me. In the first half, I felt that "The Color Purple" was, in many ways, the nasty flip side of f...more2.5 stars
This one was just a huge disappointment for me. In the first half, I felt that "The Color Purple" was, in many ways, the nasty flip side of feminism which is commonly associated with it: misandry. Of course the two aren't mutually inclusive, but for 75% of the novel, men are only in the novel to beat, rape, oppress and abuse women, or at least attempt to do so. When a 'good' male character finally appears - Samuel - he's so two-dimensional that he's barely there. Celie, after being raped, has surprisingly few uncomplicated attitudes toward men: she hates them. Men will never bring you any pleasure. Celie is a lesbian - or at least, she has sexual feelings towards a girl friend of hers, Shug. Because of Alice Walker's very didactic writing style, I felt that she was trying to 'teach' me that men were only there to rape and beat and had no real useful purpose, while it was the community of women that were the ideal. This was ameliorated slightly, later in the text, by Shug's less than ideal behaviour and some brilliant character development for Celie's abusive husband, Mr. ---.
However, what really dragged this novel down for me was the subplot involving Celie's sister, Nettie. Nettie is a very blank character herself! She's supposed to be endearing and sympathetic, but she isn't! And she writes in a lot of exclamatives which gives an overall sense of awe-struck wonder, which grows very grating the 170000000th time it happens! Furthermore, although a good thirty years passes throughout Nettie's writing, there's no real sense of time movement in her story, which there is in Celie's, or development of the characters. Adam and Olivia still felt like children to me. I was impressed by the complexity with which Walker handled the Olinka, in that they were not the Magic Negroes that popularises some fiction, but they weren't a Brutal Savage stereotype either. However, the Olinka storyline is very boring and repetitive, as I couldn't find any reason to care about Nettie or any of her supporting characters. Unlike Celie's, Nettie's narrative voice is very by the numbers, and unlike Celie's, gives no sense of individual characters. They're all just stick figures on a page, and they really got on my nerves eventually. Also, some of the twists in the plot felt that Walker was beating her central motif - of "female oppression" to death. With something so important, it should never feel like that.
I also didn't like Celie, or Celie and Shug. Obviously I don't think she should have put up with being beaten and raped, but she was such a strange juxtaposition between strong and weak, without any consistency to speak of or internal psychological depth, which just leaves the entire character feeling totally messy and all over the place. You see, that could have been done amazingly – to show the extent to which Celie’s self was messy and all over the place – but instead it just felt jumbled because of Walker’s fundamental lack of depth or internal reflection. Neither of these things are inherently bad, and it could be argued that this was the whole point – after all, Celie hardly possessed the vocabulary for this flimsy ‘internal reflection.’ I don’t agree, because I think that Toni Morrison’s novels show the extent to which a character's limited vocabulary can be a great strength to truly mirror their 'inner self.' I didn't think that Walker pulled that off at all. Celie changes a lot during the novel, but because the changes are only ever really told to us and not shown to us, I couldn't feel them at all, particularly the part when she said that she didn't really care if Shug came back. I felt that that was supposed to be a breakthrough, but because of the lack of Walker's multilayered character-building, it just came off as bullshit.
The one saving grace of a character was Sofia, Mr. ---'s daughter-in-law. Partly because she's a strong, dynamic character who kicks the shit out of anybody who tries to mess with her (especially her husband) but partly because, in a character so full of cliches - the God-Fearing Sanctimonious Sister, the Beaten-Down Rape Victim, the Magic Bisexual Soul Singer - she's a thankful subversion, a breath of fresh air. Her character is so compelling, and we're given just enough of her, unlike Shug, who is an empty vessel of cliche, and Magical Negro and stereotypical blues-singer, and never seems to have any internal logic either. Although she occasionally does bad things, she's so much of a symbol it's not even true. She's just there to spew empty platitudes, and I really didn't care.
Pardon the pun, but, although, despite dealing with some Very Important Subjects, ultimately, both the plot and the writing is too black-and-white to create any real lasting impact.(less)
This is another one of those books, like a lot of classics, that it's easier to admire than like. While Greene manages some insightful views...more2.5 stars
This is another one of those books, like a lot of classics, that it's easier to admire than like. While Greene manages some insightful views on love, hate and jealousy, I found the religious thread inconsistent and repetitive, an unending loop where it felt like Greene was trying to make A Point. Also, there simply wasn't enough variety between Sarah and Bendrix's voice, not like A Mercy. I'd enjoyed Greene's monochrome way of writing Bendrix, assuming that this gray-on-gray element was, like the rain or the dreary locations, part of the overarching Story. However, Bendrix's Love, Sarah, worked much better as a woman behind glass. When Greene tried to colour her motivations, I felt that it came off poorly and there started my whole problem with the religious subplot. I felt that the - deliberate - monotony of the story made some of the hysterical actions of the characters, such as Sarah's repeated clawing at her own eyes or wandering around searching for the Higher Truth, simply seem pointlessly narcissistic.(less)