I liked the themes Salinger developed through the book, but failed to be emotionally gripped by the protagonist. Holden Caulfield is very cleverly andI liked the themes Salinger developed through the book, but failed to be emotionally gripped by the protagonist. Holden Caulfield is very cleverly and presicely drawn as a character, but ultimately I found his perspective frustratingly, unrelentingly myopic and that really alienated me as a reader. The only part of the story I thought particularly redeeming was from Phoebe's entrance onwards. Holden's desire to protect his kid sister was rather poignant, if bleak, and I recall the scene at the carousel vividly.
Had Salinger explored greater character growth for Holden, I might have enjoyed the book substantially more. As it is, I tend to think of Catcher as a very detailed portrait of the arrogant but anxious, disaffected teen, but lacking any progression through those faults. For me the much more interesting question is, how does someone who finds the adult world a dissatisfactory place learn to live in it and engage with it on their own terms?...more
I read this fantastically imaginative novel while backpacking through India and it served me well, through long hot train trips, late nights in dodgyI read this fantastically imaginative novel while backpacking through India and it served me well, through long hot train trips, late nights in dodgy Kolkata hotels and disgustingly muggy weather when all I wanted to do was find an airconditioned building and an ice-cold lime tonic water.
Midnight's Children is an immense undertaking. It's spans a massive 50+ years of turbulent history, has a huge cast of characters and magical-realism that stretches the limits of the imagination. Every iota of the story is necessary though, because the life of the novel's narcissistic protagonist, Saleem, serves as a parallel tale and metaphor for the nation India itself. Saleem's story becomes the lens through which Rushdie explores all of the tragic, wonderful, violent, colourful history of modern India- from Ghandi's walk, the upheaval of Partition, independence, the East Pakistan War, Indira's State of Emergency and beyond.
Much as superstition and the divine permeate every aspect of modern Indian life, Rushdie's plot is suffused with the extraordinary. There are powerful noses capable of augring the future, a pair of knees that can kill, and Saleem, able to communicate with other children all over India born like himself on the stroke of midnight August 14 1947, on the cusp of India's independence....more
A Handful of Dust surprised me- a lot. For the first 3/4 of the book I found exactly what I was expecting: a witty British social satire in the same sA Handful of Dust surprised me- a lot. For the first 3/4 of the book I found exactly what I was expecting: a witty British social satire in the same sort of tradition as Oscar Wilde, Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene, where most, if not all, of the characters are equally unlikable as one another. The last quarter of the book, however, takes off in quite an unexpected direction and leaves you with one of the best endings I've encountered in a novel. It takes a (sinister) genius to come up with something that eccentric and bizarre!...more
I suspect this book probably seemed quite remarkable when it was first published, twenty-odd years ago, and it's depiction of American culture is terrI suspect this book probably seemed quite remarkable when it was first published, twenty-odd years ago, and it's depiction of American culture is terrifyingly bleak. However, in the time that's passed, a lot of DeLillo's criticisms have become kind of old hat- they are well circulated ideas- and I didn't find it terribly gripping reading.
DeLillo's descriptions of a society made numb by media saturation and an onslaught of information are skillfully done. The tone is rich in description, but not in a weighed-down antiquated kind of way. Unfortunately I didn't find much in the protagonist that was very appealing, and it's hard to feel emotionally connected to him. The existential crisis he experiences is so exaggerated that I found it very jarring (in a way that kind of reminded me of Camus' The Stranger); Jack Gladney's reaction to his environment is so far removed from my own, that it felt like an examination in abnormal psychology, rather than a look at the everyday neuroses of an everyday Joe.
I did particularly like the Airborne Toxic Event section of the book- the non-logic and pseudo-rationalism of the SIMUVAC emergency response during the chemical disaster reminded me very much of Joseph Heller's military in Catch-22: '...[W]e dont have our victims laid out where we'd want them if this was an actual simulation. In other words we're forced to take our victims as we find them... You have to make allowances for the fact that everything you see tonight is real. There's a lot of polishing we still have to do...'...more