Freud was a great writer, a fascinating thinker, and a very questionable psychologist. I think of him as the Christopher Columbus of the field; he wasFreud was a great writer, a fascinating thinker, and a very questionable psychologist. I think of him as the Christopher Columbus of the field; he was far ahead of his contemporaries, but he also made some pretty appalling errors when it came to putting his discoveries to use.
I will freely admit that I am totally unqualified to produce any kind of meaningful critique of Freud's work. But I did want to leave a short heads-up for anyone interested in his writing and at the same time suffering from anxiety or OCD or any similar malady: while groundbreaking and influential, a lot of Freud's ideas have also been thoroughly discredited by contemporary medicine, and have the potential to aggravate symptoms or derail treatment if taken too seriously. If you're interested in Freud, and you're working with a shrink who you like and trust, you might want to have a word with them about what they think of his writing before you check him out.
But after that? Go crazy. Well not literally, but you get what I mean....more
Codex isn't really a page-turner, even though it looks like one. It's secretly a literary novel, concerned withCodex isn't what it says on the cover.
Codex isn't really a page-turner, even though it looks like one. It's secretly a literary novel, concerned with theme and character, that happens to feature an exciting, page-turning plot for about nine-tenths of its run time. But then, when it serves the author's purpose, the book shifts gears and becomes something slower and more ponderous - and I suspect pretty frustrating and disappointing, if you were mostly in it for the mystery and excitement. Karen Russell's Swamplandia! did something similar, around the halfway mark, and I think that's where it lost a lot of readers.
So if you want a smart historical mystery with a satisfying resolution, I'd skip Codex, because the end is gonna be hella disappointing. But if you like Grossman's writing, and you're up for something a bit puzzling without a proper resolution, it might be worth a read....more
Danielewski doesn't really write novels - in the sense that film isn't or a comic or a radio play isn't a novel. He's working in his own little mediumDanielewski doesn't really write novels - in the sense that film isn't or a comic or a radio play isn't a novel. He's working in his own little medium of one, prose-poems with understated illustrations, where the graphic presentation of the text is an important component of the style and the storytelling. (I think "graphic novel" would be the most accurate descriptor, were it not already taken.) So it's difficult to measure the quality of his work against any standard but his own. (And if you're inclined to dismiss his work as gimmicky and pretentious, The Fifty Year Sword won't change your mind.)
This one... is pretty good, I think. It takes about an hour to read, so get it from the library if you can. I read it twice and got more out of it the second time so I'm sure there were all kinds of nuances in the narrative and presentation that I missed. There's some language and some violence, so it's not really a kid's book, but I could see a smart 13 or 14-year-old really getting into it and puzzling everything out.
So worth checking out, and probably a good entry into the rest of Danielewski's work. Just don't pay full price, and don't expect to spend more than an hour or so with it....more
I was maybe 2/3 of the was through Lexicon, and wondering why it wasn't clicking, when I checked out the blurbs on the back. Lev Grossman says it "reaI was maybe 2/3 of the was through Lexicon, and wondering why it wasn't clicking, when I checked out the blurbs on the back. Lev Grossman says it "reads like Elmore Leonard high out of his mind on Snow Crash" and Austin Grossman says it's "[l]ike someone let Grant Morrison loose on the Bourne identity franchise."
And that sort of put everything together for me. There are some interesting ideas here, about neurology and linguistics and such. But if you've read Snow Crash or The Invisibles, you're already very familiar with them, and Barry doesn't bring anything new to the table. So you're left with an admittedly very competent thriller with a few clever twists and (I found) unappealing characters.
If you haven't read Stephenson or Morrison then the ideas will be probably new to you, so go for it. But if you have, you can probably find a better use of your time....more