This book is so embarrassingly juvenile at times that I actually stopped midway to check what age Mr. Callenbach was when he wrote this. Apparently heThis book is so embarrassingly juvenile at times that I actually stopped midway to check what age Mr. Callenbach was when he wrote this. Apparently he was 46, but you could be forgiven for thinking this was enthusiastically hammered out by a teenage boy who wants to save the world (provided everyone does exactly what he says) and would also very much like to finally get a girl to touch his weenie. I've read three books on utopian societies from three different eras - Thomas More's original, H.G Wells' exercise in patience and now, this one. There are few things less ideal than another person's notion of how the world should be run.
I can see that the author had good intentions and I did try to like the book despite cringe-worthy passages, such as the one detailing the Ecotopian propensity to ask themselves "What would an Indian do?" while isolating non-white races, including the afore-mentioned magical Indians - but they don't want to live around white people anyway so that makes it alright. Black people live in a place called Soul City, by the way. I only WISH I were making that up. And then there's Ecotopia's laughable "war games" where men - and only men - prance around hitting each other. Because real men overcompensate.
The biggest problem with this book, though, is its protagonist. Ernest Callenbach can be endearingly earnest but William Weston is a thoroughly unlikable creep. He whines about not being exclusive with Marissa (who by the way, Weston would like you to know, has "powerful sexual odours" - again, not making this up) and then proceeds to, in his own words, "more or less rape her" when she sleeps with someone else at the games. On the other hand, he is happy getting wanked off by a nurse (it's all standard medical procedure and he buys her a tent for her troubles) and taking part in a threesome (MFF, of course). It's disappointing to have a female character who seems promising at first and is then changed to suit the protagonist. I was hoping Weston might drown in the hot tub in the end but Mr. Callenbach chose to disappoint me.
There were bits that I did like and was happy to note ideas that have turned into reality. I liked the Ecotopian vision of public transport and the importance of teaching children survival skills. The train with the large windows is an idea I could definitely get behind, with or without communal marijuana.
In any case, I think I might leave off reading books about utopian societies for a while. ...more
I don't know if it's just me but there seem to be a lot of references to Twin Peaks here - Angua's looking for a "clean room, reasonably priced", VimeI don't know if it's just me but there seem to be a lot of references to Twin Peaks here - Angua's looking for a "clean room, reasonably priced", Vimes talking about being on the path and his particular description of his coffee preferences. Anyway, interesting take on fantastic racism (I was constantly reminded of that line in Witches Abroad about how, on the Discworld, "white and black live in perfect harmony and gang up on green.")
The relationship between Cuddy and Detritus was adorable and Angua makes for a great addition to the Watch. I love how every chracter in the watch is so distinct and yet comes together and complements the group perfectly. They're one of those groups of fictional characters that you wish you were friends with in real life. When they were sitting around, planning to save the city, I found myself wishing just that (yes, even with Nobby).
This book also has one of my favourite lines in the series: "If you have to look along the shaft of an arrow from the wrong end, if a man has you entirely at his mercy, then hope like hell that man is an evil man. Because the evil like power, power over people, and they want to see you in fear. They want you to know you're going to die. So they'll talk. They'll gloat. They'll watch you squirm. They'll put off the moment of murder like another man will put off a good cigar. So hope like hell your captor is an evil man. A good man will kill you with hardly a word."
Also, can we talk about how amazingly picturesque this is: "Three and a half minutes after waking up, Captain Samuel Vimes, Night Watch, staggered up the last few steps to the roof of the city’s opera house, gasped for breath and threw up allegro ma non troppo."...more
I wanted to like this book so much but I have to admit that I am very glad I watched Blade Runner before reading this cumbersome book or I might haveI wanted to like this book so much but I have to admit that I am very glad I watched Blade Runner before reading this cumbersome book or I might have given up on some interesting ideas.
The elements that made the movie an absorbing watch make this fairly engaging, in places. The problem is all the other tripe that gets latched on to it. Deckard is an unlikable protagonist and he often came across as downright creepy and repulsive. Isidore, while not perfect is at least someone you want to root for. And if you start to doubt when this book was written, the misogynistic treatment of its female characters should remove any doubt that this was created in an era when it was perfectly acceptable that the chief purpose of a woman in a novel was to be little more than a pair of talking boobs.
And it's a pity because the book does throw up some very interesting questions about the concept of human-ness, about religion and society, about the hierarchies we choose to follow. However, the more frivolous parts of the book take away from the overall impact. ...more
I'd been looking for this book for almost year since a friend recommended it. When I finally started reading it, it was on a chilly day after work, wiI'd been looking for this book for almost year since a friend recommended it. When I finally started reading it, it was on a chilly day after work, with three blankets and the beginnings of a prodigious flu attack. So I don't know if it was the fever but I knew I was going to like this book when I burst into tears a few pages in, on reading Fielding's gorgeous and heartbreaking description of old Newfoundland:
"After it rained, the schooners would unfurl their sails to let them dry, a stationary fleet under full sail, the whole harbour a mass of flapping canvas you could hear a mile away. How high those sails were. If they had not been translucent, they would have cast a shadow in the evening halfway across the city. Instead, in the evening, in the morning, the sun shone through the sails and cast an amber-coloured light across the harbour and the streets, a light I have not seen in twenty years."
I've noticed that whenever I read books that span years and decades, I like the beginning more than the end, as if I were nostalgic for the past myself. I did like the first few sections of this book more, although there wasn't anything in the end to particularly dislike. I liked the beginning simply because I liked the younger Smallwood more than the older one. The Smallwood of the early chapters is the perfect underdog that you can't help but root for, even admire. His determination, the way he navigates his believably volatile family life, the compassion he feels for the whalers - you can literally see him as he is being built.
Unfortunately, Smallwood loses some of his charm for me after the New York arc, mainly because of his bad decisions; whether it's his spinelessness with Squires and his poor judgements once he assumes the reigns or his decision to make a loveless marriage of convenience while continuing to be fascinated by another woman. But this is merely my personal attitude to Smallwood - I have the terrible habit of treating fictional characters as real people and feeling disappointed when they make bad decisions and proud when they make good ones. The story remains engaging and I understand why Smallwood would act thus and certainly his decisions do move the story forward. Besides, based as the story is in actual events, I understand the constraints on the author. It's just that the younger Smallwood was someone I would want to be friends with, the older one was not.
Interestingly, it was the opposite when it came to Fielding. I didn't like her at first, and I don't know if I can say I likeed her in the end, but she became more and more engaging as the book progressed. Fielding is surly and somewhat uni-dimensional through Smallwood's eyes - it is only through her journal and her columns that she comes alive. They contained some of the best writing in the book, acidly funny and intelligent at the same time and yet underneath all that, strangely sentimental. Her Julius Caesar pastiche of a counterattack to Smallwood and Prowse was genius; it made me laugh out loud - as did most of her writing - but the strong emotional core of the piece was evident.
At the same time, there are lapses in the storytelling. The plot can get weak at points with convenient coincidences scattered around. And the riddle about the letter and Hines' melodrama at church took away from the story. While Smallwood and Fielding's relationship is the heart of the book, I thought it could have been told better; it was trite in parts and difficult to understand in others. The last few chapters were hurried and I would have liked to read more about Smallwood's actual ascension to power after all that buildup.
And yet, the book shines because of its writing, which perfectly complements the land it writes about, equal parts beautiful and stark; whether it is Fielding's memories of ships or Smallwood's journeys through the remote islands and lost lands of Newfoundland. Johnston combines dry humour with wit and heart, and this is what made this book such a great read. That, and his talent for creating believable, nuanced characters and scenes that stay with you after the story is done....more
Another great find from TV Tropes. I stumbled upon this while looking at the trope page for star-crossed lovers, I think, (no, I do not remember how IAnother great find from TV Tropes. I stumbled upon this while looking at the trope page for star-crossed lovers, I think, (no, I do not remember how I got there - TV Tropes is a total rabbit hole) and the idea of a colour-coded society where your worth is determined by the colours you can see was something I knew I would like.
My favourite part of the book, obviously, was all the colour. Just the names - East Carmine, Jade-Under-Lime, Oxblood, Cinnabar, High Saffron - were a delight. I felt like I was sampling my way through a box of bright jellybeans every time I saw a new name. The writing was rich and vivid and I could really understand the characters' reactions to colour - such as that deafening red door or the mural in Rusty Hill - despite the fact that they're fundamentally alien creatures.
The writing felt like some sort of strange P.G. Wodehouse/ sci-fi mashup. Perhaps it's the 1950s English boarding school feel of Chromatacia, or the fact that Eddie, pleasant, ordinary and often clueless, makes me think of Bertie Wooster. In any case, Fforde's writing is smooth and readable. I also liked Jane - she manages to be the fiery tsundere sci-fi heroine without getting on your nerves because the author isn't trying too hard to get the reader as well as the protagonist to fall in love with her. I also liked the Apocryphal Man, and the Yellows - especially Courtland Gamboge - were wonderfully detestable. I loved the humour of the book - it was an interesting contrast to the more obvious dystopian elements. The witty writing and colourful (no pun intended, honest) characters almost make you forget that this is about a ruthless totalitarian regime.
At the same time, Chromatacia isn't your typical dystopia. The Greys, while clearly at the bottom of the food chain, are nevertheless accorded certain rights (such as the privacy of their homes) and privileges (the Vermeer in the Grey sector). And more interestingly, greys can ascend - they aren't the usual downtrodden slave race you see in such fiction. The subservience of lower colours to higher ones reminded me more of the waiting on seniors in Enid Blyton boarding school stories than of class hierarchies. I also liked the intriguing references to human society, which make this a double layered science fiction story actually - there are two societies here; the Eloi-like Chromatics and the humans that came before them, both of them quite unlike what we are now. (Why indeed, are Mr. Simply Red and the legend of Chuck Naurice lost to time? :P)
On the other hand, I thought the writing lost track of the plot at times, trying to balance post-apocalyptic sci-fi with romantic comedy, A good part of the book is spent on world building and infodumps and as a result, the ending seems rushed and incomplete. The reveal about High Saffron has been overdone in this genre and thus fails to shock. I wish the book spoke more about the Riff Raff and the Apocryphal men, as well as how and why Chromatacia was formed. I'm assuming these will be saved for the sequels, but the missing information makes for an unsatisfying conclusion to an otherwise fascinating book. I am looking forward to the two sequels and I hope they will be worth the wait.
Ultimately though, the reason Shades of Grey works is because it avoids a very common pitfall of books with unique concepts - it manages to be original without sacrificing likeable characters and readability....more
This was given to me by a friend (I adore hand-me-down books! It feels like you're reading them with a friend beside you and I like wondering how theThis was given to me by a friend (I adore hand-me-down books! It feels like you're reading them with a friend beside you and I like wondering how the previous owner would have reacted to this or that part of the story).
It was the cover that attracted me at first though, not the book. The cover is delightfully reminiscent of Lego and a read in itself - I had a great time, discovering all the little stories in it - the cheeky, the cute and the plain weird. But along with the superfun cover, I ended up enjoying the book itself way more than I expected to.
I'm not a big fan of pulp/noir/hardboiled detective fiction and their variants, mainly because they slip into narm territory so often. I prefer cozy country house murders and psychological mysteries. But I liked City of Tiny Lights because it takes familiar tropes (femme fatale walks into the office of hard drinking detective with A Past, for one) and then adds in all these layers to the story. It also helps that Tommy Akhtar is a pretty likeable protagonist. While I found his narration a little grating at first, as you delve into his story and that of the city around him, it becomes less a jumble of argot (thank God for all the 70s British sitcoms my parents watched when I was a kid; I hadn't heard the word "shtum" since Mind Your Language) and more of a unique voice guiding you around a unique city.
I liked that Patrick Neate managed to write about an ethnic character without resorting to the awful stereotypes that books with Indian characters are peppered with (even when so many of them are written by Indians themselves!). Neate treats his characters as people - you get the idea that Tommy and the others are who they are also because of themselves, not just because of where they come from. In fact, most of the characters in the book, regardless of ethnicity and importance, are better fleshed out than I would expect. I also liked the book's treatment of Islamic fundamentalism (Farzad wouldn't like that - maybe I should say Islamic opportunism instead?). It avoids the boogeyman/monster-under-the-bed approach of a lot of fiction - and non fiction - and instead chooses to portray a complex issue in a more nuanced manner than usual. It was this blend of pulp and realism that made this an engaging book to read. I also like the London of this book. I think places in a book, whether houses or entire cities, are as important as the human characters and I love stories that make them come alive.
On the other hand, the ending was quite disappointing. I don't mind the occasional loose end that leaves the reader intrigued but this felt unfinished, as if there was a chapter or epilogue missing. Tommy's decision to involve Avi, while crucial to the climax, was uncharacteristically bad, despite the lampshading and its aftermath wasn't explored in as much detail as I thought it required. The pace of the book starting from the climax onwards was quite hurried and out of sync with the rest.
I did like the book on the whole and I wish Mr. Neate would hurry up and write another Tommy Akhtar mystery. This was an interesting complement to Cuckoo's Calling. I think modern detective fiction set in London is a genre I will enjoy exploring....more
Apart from the Latin phrases preceding each part of the book, there was little here that I could connect with Rowling (well okay, I imagine Strike toApart from the Latin phrases preceding each part of the book, there was little here that I could connect with Rowling (well okay, I imagine Strike to look something like Hagrid). I have always thought that once the Harry Potter series was over, detective fiction would have been the natural next step for her, and I was surprised that she went ahead instead with a book like The Casual Vacancy.
The Cuckoo's Calling is not wildly original but is a pleasantly written book. If you're one of those annoying readers, like me, who loves guessing who did it, you might be a little disappointed at how obvious it is. But like all good mysteries, it is the investigation that matters more than the reveal. The modern, multicultural London of the book is as interesting a setting as Chicago or LA. I liked Cormoran Strike, despite his name. And his dynamic with Robin is far more engaging than the whole Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton thing he seems to have going on with Charlotte. In fact, I wish that entire subplot had been removed - it took away from the storyline and it did not have the chance to be developed enough to add another layer to Strike.
The writing is readable but lacks the spark and magic of Harry Potter, that almost addictive power of her words - by which I mean that I did not read this book at a stretch without sacrificing food, water and sleep :P. It's still pretty well written enough to keep the story moving smoothly forward.
I loved all the lines from Virgil and it reminded me of my plan to start reading classical texts again (I pretty much gave them up after good St Augustine last year). While this isn't exactly from the story itself, but "Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit" is such a lovely thing to remember. And fitting, for a book where memories, harsh and pleasant play an important role. Memories were why I read this book in the first place myself. I got this from one of the pavement booksellers at King's Circle on a trip to eat South Indian food with friends. I hadn't bought any from them in years and I remember that my first Harry Potter was bought from a similar bookseller, a badly printed copy that was probably pirated from an original. It's good to go back to old friends. ...more
Of all the books in the series, Mockingjay seems, at first to be the slowest. While I'd rather that the love story not take centre stage, the truth isOf all the books in the series, Mockingjay seems, at first to be the slowest. While I'd rather that the love story not take centre stage, the truth is that the Katniss-Peeta dynamic is one of the more memorable elements in the story. However, while Katniss and Gale's relationship here lacks the chemistry of the former, it is necessary and an useful reminder of how relationships might change. And this book is probably the best of the lot, exploring themes of conflicted idealism, whether war can be ever just, the roles heroes play when they're useful and what happens when they are not.
I found Collins' treatment of war, particularly as Katniss fights it, interesting. I don't know why but I seem to find many YA books lacking when they write about war (I remember reading an awful one last year that had an invading army show up in SUVs. Unironically). I suppose it does make sense, given the Games, that the Capitol and Panem as a whole might respond to propaganda as much as military strength. The portrayal of the rebels and of District 13 was more layered than I would expect and drives home the point that the line between good and evil, and hero and villain is a murky one. Indeed, by the end of the book, the lesson seems to be almost nihilistic - there may be no good and no evil, but at the same time, it suggests that perhaps there is hope.
I know many people have a problem with the ending, but I was relieved by it. I cannot imagine that another one would be possible. My one grouse is that despite everything, I do not see Katniss come into full control of her life. Her character development is rather shallow as well, and as a factor of other people, rather than herself. All three victors, in fact, are more or less the same as when they started. They intensify, rather than grow. Johanna and Finnick on the other hand, show more layers between the last two books than the protagonists.
On the whole though, I did enjoy this series a lot and despite the flaws, can say that this might be a new favourite....more
One of the reasons I've grown to enjoy this series is Katniss Everdeen. I don't like her, but that's the whole point. She's a very real girl and a refOne of the reasons I've grown to enjoy this series is Katniss Everdeen. I don't like her, but that's the whole point. She's a very real girl and a refreshing departure from heroines who are preternaturally beautiful and/or *shudder* have "inner beauty" (someone please explain to me what that means). I didn't think I'd ever relate to Katniss and I am surprised that I do. Katniss can be weak, she can be unpleasant and she can be self-serving even when she has good intentions. Heroines, especially YA heroines, aren't supposed to be this messy. In fact, it's interesting to note that Katniss and Peeta are almost a gender-swapped version of the usual action couple dynamic. This time, it is the girl who is brooding and imperfect, and the guy who is the good little morality pet that everyone loves. Not that Peeta is necessarily that flat a character but it is rare to see any protagonist, especially a female one, who resorts to a cowardly drunk escapade instead of a "noble" acceptance of the horror before her.
I can completely understand Katniss' confused feelings for Gale but I thought that particular subplot could have done with less focus. Again, I get that Katniss does love Peeta and that the reader is supposed to see through her veil of mixed signals before she herself does but the love track despite its touching moments, takes away from the story as a whole. I liked seeing a more rounded picture of Haymitch this time but I'm disappointed that Cinna remains bland as ever (on a side note, for someone with a self-proclaimed disdain for fashion, Katniss sure describes her clothes in loving detail - what's up with that? Or is it just another hint at her unreliability in gauging her own feelings?)
I actually grew to love this series, despite its imperfections and I'm glad I gave it a chance....more
This is again one of those books I almost didn't read because of the hordes of fans insisting how great it was. However I changed many of my ideas aboThis is again one of those books I almost didn't read because of the hordes of fans insisting how great it was. However I changed many of my ideas about reading and art since 2011, and one of them was to actually give bad art a chance so that my misgivings have some basis in reality. So far, I have to admit, I have always managed to find something to like, no matter how small.
The central plot of The Hunger Games is shaky. It is clearly inspired by Battle Royale, even if the name Panem seems to hint at Romans and their blood and popcorn matinees at the Colosseum. However, I think that such an audaciously cruel theatric involving underaged children fighting to the death is not the best recipe for stability of draconian rule. What easier way to fire up a rebellion than the death of an innocent child? This was one of the reasons, I preferred the movie to the book. While still following the same idea, the movies allow the reader to understand the Capitol's reasoning, however, faulty, behind such a death match. The books on the other hand seem to say "okay, you just gotta accept that these Games happen and people haven't completely demolished the Capitol over it yet it because this is going to create an interesting story for my heroine." Would it not have been more effective if the Games involved adults fighting to the death? That would give the masses the desperate hope and ensuing relief if a tribute escapes without the outrage that the murder of something vulnerable and innocent would cause. Either the Capitol has some serious muscle to squash rebellions or its citizens too passive to care, but the book does not make that clear.
I still, however, liked the book. It was well-written and well-paced. Its strongest point is the characterization, which is surprisingly nuanced for something in this genre. I thought Katniss would be another one of those perfect, action chick heroines but she strikes the right balance between a slightly larger-than-life heroine and a real, conflicted and imperfect girl. Peeta again, could have been the one dimensional, pretty boy hero but he is an interesting mix of goodness and guile. I also liked Haymitch but I felt that the Capitol citizens, including Cinna, were rather flat.
Despite my misgivings about the actual point of the Hunger Games, its clear parallels with the current obsession with reality TV was interesting enough to let me suspend my doubts and allow myself to be carried on with the story. The emotionally charged, lurid, 4 colour world of the Games, complete with publicity and rabid fandom is a striking contrast to the rest of Panem and the Games themselves, and Ms Collins manages to portray them well. ...more
I am not a huge fan of the Glamourist series but I find the magic system and the Regency setting interesting enough to follow the books. The third booI am not a huge fan of the Glamourist series but I find the magic system and the Regency setting interesting enough to follow the books. The third book takes on the Luddite uprisings, substituting weavers for glamour creating cold mongers. I was also impressed by the fact that the book recognises the multiethnic nature of British society even at the time and avoids the blanket whitewashing of most books and movies set in the period. The characters in the series have managed to be surprisingly nuanced and that, with the relationship between Jane and Vincent, is one of the stronger points of this book. Jane manages to be a nuanced character, with doubts and prejudice but with the courage to change both of them.
The writing can be a bit indifferent at times, and a little breathless at others but it is overall much better than the second one. I still think that this series is not living up to its potential. So far, the books are merely good, but they might be great. This book was probably the best in the series and I hope the newer ones will continue to develop and capture that spark it needs to be a truly amazing series of books. ...more
I couldn't remember whether I had read the Ender's Game short story or this novel - I remember many of the scenes and definitely the ending, but I decI couldn't remember whether I had read the Ender's Game short story or this novel - I remember many of the scenes and definitely the ending, but I decided to read this again all the same.
Orson Scott Card isn't the most likable author but I can't fault this book. It's brilliant and shocking and heart warming all at the same time. I love the way Card represents warfare as something that's fought in the mind, as well as with the body. I think the book does go beyond simplistic notions of good and evil, and us and them. Card's treatment of the world of children is almost Roald Dahl-esque in its messiness and brutality. I can't exactly relate to Ender, or to Valentine, even though I like them; but it surprises me that it is Peter I can understand best, even when he repulses me. The scene in the beginning of the book, when he cries and apologizes to a sleeping Ender after his chilling speech detailing how he is going to kill him one day, added an interesting layer to his personality that I wish was developed further.
On the other hand, I felt that the last chapter was out of sync with the rest of the book. I'm all for new age quasi-mysticism but here, it stuck out like a discordant harmony (and reminded me why I still haven't finished Speaker for the Dead). And Peter and Valentine's plot to take over the work via blogging seems a little laughable now. I liked the differing dynamics that Valentine shared with each of her brothers but she herself comes across as rather bland. I think the siblings' genius is a little exaggerated, especially with Peter and Valentine where it is pretty much an informed attribute. However, in Ender's case, I could actually feel the strain that he must go through, genius or not - most works featuring prodigies tend to leave out the messy bits that Card adds in.
Ender's Game is not a perfect book, but it's one that makes me think every time I read it....more
This is another book that I originally wanted to read as a teenager, after discovering Bukowski's poetry. However unlike the others, I think I actuallThis is another book that I originally wanted to read as a teenager, after discovering Bukowski's poetry. However unlike the others, I think I actually would have liked this much less had I read it seven years ago.
I can't honestly say I *like* it even now. At first Henry Chinaski seemed like Holden Caulfield all grown up, but Chinaski is Holden with the hope - and pretty much everything else - scoured out of him with a rusty cheese grater. Maybe I should have read Ham on Rye first because without a backstory, he and the book itself are easy to dismiss. Chinaski might be a complex man but all you can see is a self-destructive alcoholic, often repugnant, sometimes witty. The only time I see flashes of something other than an indolent caricature is when he talks of writing but that is too little to give him any depth (there are literally five lines talking about his writing).
I found the sharp, short chapters that focus on Chinaski's external world interesting - they really did feel like flashes from a drunkard's head. But they also ended up making Chinaski a half-baked, unfinished sort of character without a beginning or an end and with pretty much two words to describe him - lazy and drunk. I understand that the whole point of the character is the lack of ambition, of anything to move him but I don't want to end a book feeling like the protagonist is pretty much still in the same place as he was in the beginning. That makes the whole story feel like a long-ish chapter in a bigger novel rather than a book by itself.
On the one hand, I can understand the feeling that I think this book wants to portray - of knowing that you're defective and broken in some way and watching the world as it moves along without you. On the other, this makes for a pretty dull story. It's like watching a flower pot break again and again in a loop. As someone who spent two years actively avoiding gainful employment (not counting dropping out of grad school a few years before that), I should be able to empathize with Chinaski, but I don't. Or perhaps, I understand his words but I just personally dislike the character so much that I can't bring myself to sympathise with him, at least not completely.
It is the writing rather than the characters or plot (there isn't one to be very honest) that saved this book for me. For all his repulsiveness, Chinaski can be pretty insightful and honest. I guess I liked the book because it was a change from most fiction where even pain is a thing of beauty. If nothing else, Factotum tells the reader that the world can be ugly and people can fail deliberately and there will be no justice or reason to the whole thing. It's a refreshing reality check to have, in small doses. And at the same time, it's a strange sort of relief to read a book like this because you realise that while you are wonderfully messed-up, at least you aren't "trying-and-failing-to-steal-a-cucumber" messed up.
I liked Bukowski's poems when I first discovered them because they had a brutal, honest sort of beauty to them. The ironic thing is that Factotum is nothing if not brutal and honest. But it's a flabby, blemished sort of brutality, a stained truth that you'd be better off forgetting about. Or maybe Bukowski as a ten line poem has the right balance of grit and light, anything more and he becomes overwhelming. In any case, I think I'll go with the poetry next time....more