I'd give it 3 1/2, but how hard it is to make fun of yuppies in the 80's? The reason that people don't shoot fish in a barrel is because it's not very...moreI'd give it 3 1/2, but how hard it is to make fun of yuppies in the 80's? The reason that people don't shoot fish in a barrel is because it's not very interesting.(less)
Re-read this book last winter. Like a lot of things (I'm looking at you, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles : Revenge of the Ooze!) it wasn't as good as my...moreRe-read this book last winter. Like a lot of things (I'm looking at you, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles : Revenge of the Ooze!) it wasn't as good as my 11 year old mind remembered it to be. Still, very sophisticated for a graphic novel, even though a lot of the themes (e.g. cold war) are pretty dated. Moore's dialogue is good, characters are solid, and artwork is at least a 7/10. (less)
Calvino's form is beautiful, quiet, and moving in his loosely-strung-together vignettes in Cosmicomics and Invisible Cities; both of those books I rea...moreCalvino's form is beautiful, quiet, and moving in his loosely-strung-together vignettes in Cosmicomics and Invisible Cities; both of those books I read in one night. But somehow his style came off as tedious to me in this one.. maybe he was just trying too hard to get a coherent plot going. And what probably came off as original, even revolutionary, in the late 70's feels tired now.
On the other hand, I was a lot younger when I read Cosmicomics and Invisible Cities, maybe my tastes have just changed.(less)
Okay, I decided I would take a go at actually justifying my rating for this book, rather than just make half-hearted apologies at my preference for a...moreOkay, I decided I would take a go at actually justifying my rating for this book, rather than just make half-hearted apologies at my preference for a so-absurdly misogynistic and, let's be frank, pornographic novel.
First of all, I like Houellebecq's unrelenting pessimism. It's far beyond nihlism - so more destructive and negative, so more emphatic in its rejection of bougeoise norms, of religion, culture, capitalism. This book (as well as the other Houellebecq I read, Platform) captures the bleak purposeless of modern life better than almost anything I can think of. As a recent college grad who for the first time in her life finds herself waking at 7:30 am each morning so she can go plug herself in to the grinding mechanics of capitalism; someone whose weekends consist of the churn of drunk-hungover-drunk-hungover, who struggles to find meaning in music, beauty, sex, religion, whatever -- I can relate to this. The emotionally unavailable scientist. The absolutely pathetic, lonely, sex-addicted failure. The petty, worthless little bureaucrat in Platform. I'm not, you know, depressed or anything, but I can share at least in some part their view of the world as bleak, lonely, and irredeemable except through very brief moments of relieved pain via drinking and sex.
Secondly, the book is darkly funny. Not amateurish darkly funny, because, I mean, this book is dark. The things in it that are funny are the things that have to do with the inevitability of death, the pointlessness of life, the drive for sex that is unsatisfied in pathetic, heartbreakingly inadequate losers -- are you cracking up yet? If not, you might not get it. The humor is subtle, and when I first read this book (in the original French), I missed a lot of the humor. But the humor is there - the question is whether or not the reader is capable of appreciating it. One of those laugh-if-you-don't-want-to-cry things.
Thirdly -- okay, yes, the book is misogynistic, maybe kind of racist, certainly anti-religion -- but at least Houellebecq is fair. His hatred with modern society is pretty blindly applied. The men in this book aren't exactly great upstanding characters, either, you know?
So, there you go : like I said, don't go telling the feminist sisterhood or my mom that I enjoyed this book. But if you're looking for some dark, high-brow pornography, and you have a strong stomach, this might be a good choice for you.(less)
There are a lot of ways to judge people, but I find that opinion of this book is one of the most accurate and efficient. With very few exceptions, I'v...moreThere are a lot of ways to judge people, but I find that opinion of this book is one of the most accurate and efficient. With very few exceptions, I've found that how much I like someone is strongly correlated with how much they enjoy the book. Is it their favorite book ever, omg? Well, they're probably either a best friend, a comrade whom I hold in worship-approximating esteem, or my cool cousin or uncle or something like that. Do they not "get" it or find it boring? You aren't my type, sorry. To me, this book is like the little yellow canary that you send down a mine shaft to know whether to run the other way or not.
I re-read Confederacy piecemeal on my grinding morning commutes last fall. If you've ever ridden the DC metro at 7:30am you know that the cars are full of serious, silent business people. So, when I couldn't keep myself from cracking up, I was very obviously that weird possibly-schizophrenic girl that every user of public transportation dreads. I tried to be professional, but Christ, this book is FUNNY, and I can't help myself. And really, who cares what those people think anyway -- I'm sure Ignatius would find their mere existence is an affront to theology and geometry. (less)
I feel like this book had a sweet spot. Beyond the Zero was a bit of a chore, but after you got through that first section, the narration really took...moreI feel like this book had a sweet spot. Beyond the Zero was a bit of a chore, but after you got through that first section, the narration really took shape and the characters sort of fell in to place. Pynchon's prose are really beautiful and deserve the hype they receive. It sort of petered off at the end.. then again, maybe it was just me losing interest.(less)
Usually when some undergraduate English major brings up DFW to me at a keg party I tend auto-file them under "douchebag." Because, let's be honest peo...moreUsually when some undergraduate English major brings up DFW to me at a keg party I tend auto-file them under "douchebag." Because, let's be honest people - Infinite Jest was profoundly not good. But everything that's irritating about Wallace's thoroughly self-aware postmodern writing style is somehow much more stomachable in smaller bites. Brief Interviews has its highs and lows - the quality is extremely variant between the pieces - but when it's on, it is ON. In fact, Brief Interviews holds moments where Wallace is actually transcendant.
If you're looking to buy or borrow this book, take my advice : do not read the whole thing. First, read the interviews. They're the clear highlights, with the last one being, in my opinion, one of the best pieces of short fiction written in the last couple of decades. If you're feeling it at that point, then dive in to the other ones - Octet is a particularly strong, as is Suicide as a Sort of Present. A good percentage of the stories use painfully self aware "tricks" to "challenge" the modern concepts of narration, character, structure, etc -- "tricks" that are now being replicated unendingly in sophomore fiction writing seminars across the world, I'm sure. It's not particularly clever and for the most part detracts from the writing. But in the Interviews, Wallace manages the dialectic narration style more or less beautifully, somehow capturing both the worst and best traits of his characters. These men are hideous; even worse, they are hideously realistic, and I often found my pity or empathy overwelming my initial stomach-churning disgust. These portraits are intimate and familiar; it's like listening in on a conversation of an ex-boyfriend.
The last interview is off-the-charts good, mostly because it manages to be both grotesque and quite funny. This is the DFW that people obsess over - tossing around references, satirizing modern society, soaking dialogue in irony. That story alone is worth the price of the book.
If you end up loving this book - more power to you. DFW has definitely done things to earn his widespread critical acclaim. Just don't name-drop him to pick up girls at parties, because that makes you an asshole.(less)