Brilliant in spurts, and setting the table for what would become DeLillo's literary preoccupations (sexual and social and above all American conspiracBrilliant in spurts, and setting the table for what would become DeLillo's literary preoccupations (sexual and social and above all American conspiracies, and the mesmerizing role that language plays in adumbrating the connections between them [language as a consipracy itself], Americana isn't necessarily a must-read, if only because of the greats that came later, like White Noise, Libra, and Underworld (haven't read Mao II, yet), but it's pretty great and totally worthy. ...more
One of the high points of Cormac McCarthy's work, and, depending on where your head's at, the best of his early stuff. It lacks some of the quiet, danOne of the high points of Cormac McCarthy's work, and, depending on where your head's at, the best of his early stuff. It lacks some of the quiet, dangerous power of The Orchard Keeper, instead bending toward a "ribald, folkloric humor" whose punch lines are so damned good but un-repeatable because they require a 70-page buildup if they're to have their full punch-in-the-gut impact. But, there's power there, all the same, and a voice that authenticates the sui generis nature of the title character, not quite a drifter but also not a man beholden to anyone's expectations, whether it's his friends, the readers, or the storyteller himself, who in the end lets Suttree slip away from the narrative and get back to his own inscrutable life, not unlike Lebowski does at the very end of TBL.
I am sad for having finished the book. It would've been nice to be able to go on reading it for the first time....more
A surprisingly pedestrian effort from a writer whose book, Mating, is one of the great enrichments of my life. But, a pedestrian effort defined by itsA surprisingly pedestrian effort from a writer whose book, Mating, is one of the great enrichments of my life. But, a pedestrian effort defined by its effortful-ness. It's possible the brilliance was too subtle. Felt flat, with only occasional flashes of the superior, playful mind of the Norman Rush of Mating.
I have never failed to learn so much from a book. Each page contained two to five worthwhile, self-knowledge-spurring insights about the human mind. WI have never failed to learn so much from a book. Each page contained two to five worthwhile, self-knowledge-spurring insights about the human mind. Written swimmingly. ...more
LoLL would have had a hallowed place on my shelf a few years ago, and, even now, in my jaded state, I give it props as an act of (re-)imagination andLoLL would have had a hallowed place on my shelf a few years ago, and, even now, in my jaded state, I give it props as an act of (re-)imagination and good camaraderie, but there were just too many things that simply weren't doing it for me.
First, conceptually, the premise of a "fantasy caper" is tough. Caper implies the kind of escapade where you pull off the impossible by manipulating reality while remaining within its boundaries. That didn't really happen in this book, anyway, but, even if it did, the presence of magic kind of takes the air out of the caper.
None of this matters, of course, because it was just some editor's jacket copy and it could still work if other aspects of the book were strong. They weren't.
The descriptive prose is heavy. Take, for example, this paragraph on the second or third page. "The Thiefmaker’s wards all carried candles; their cold blue light shone through the silver curtains of river mist as street lamps might glimmer through a smoke-grimed window. A chain of ghostlight wound its way down from the hilltop, through the stone markers and ceremonial paths, down to the wide glass bridge over the Coalsmoke canal, half-visible in the bloodwarm fog that seeped up from Camorr’s wet bones on summer nights." A bunch of cool things here. "Chain of ghostlight", etc. It's just so much, though. Too many ingredients. The book's littered with these chokers.
The other 3/5 of the book, the dialogue, is pretty wooden, a bit like mediocre TV or every bad blockbuster. The characters lacked dimension, too.
I did like the punching-the-old-lady-in-the-face scene, not for the violence, but for the timing. You'd need to get into the 600s in pages to appreciate that. There are some other pretty great images and cool things about the city, but, ironically enough, the excess of detail somehow did more to underscore the cheapness of the set than it did to enrich the world in which these characters live.
LoLL is a lot easier and safer than the Game of Thrones books, which I also have some problems with (Neddy No-Fun over here), but GoT is a lot more rewarding, especially for the fantasy reader who likes literature and some psychological complexity. This one was more not just like "fantasy", but like someone's fantasy, and I just couldn't really get into it. ...more
For prose alone, this book would be excellent. The writing is elegant, descriptive without being over-baked. VS Naipaul has a gift for including the dFor prose alone, this book would be excellent. The writing is elegant, descriptive without being over-baked. VS Naipaul has a gift for including the detail that animates an object, a person, a scene. His comic timing is always on the money, as if he were Kingsley Amis, just at a much lower frequency.
VS Naipaul's gifts as a writer keep coming. The characters are not so much psychologized as observed, but, despite not getting inside their heads, they come across as realer people than characters whose feelings you explicitly know about. They're like family, which is of course the point, given that the book comes from the inside of a kind of family sno-globe. Naipaul's ear for speech and for the rhythms of gesture (in Biswas, at least) is as good as anyone's.
Still, if there were one thing that for me distinguishes this book from other books, it's the unforgiving tenderness with which VS Naipaul treats his main character, Mohun Biswas, who is based on Naipaul's own father. As someone who's wanted to write about his own father for the sake of trying to understand him and simply get it right and set the record straight, and, yes, for the sake of love and gratitude, too (perhaps mostly those, at the end of the day), I have the deepest admiration for Naipaul's effo ...more
Excellent. Nearly every essay in the book made its subject a viable and redemptive object of interest, a thing that felt important. The best of theseExcellent. Nearly every essay in the book made its subject a viable and redemptive object of interest, a thing that felt important. The best of these essays are better than more than a few of David Foster Wallace's essays (no small feat). Lahwineski, especially, was superb. ...more