While many modern novels use similar narrative techniques, very few do so to such powerful effect. Through a range of structural devices, narrative fo...moreWhile many modern novels use similar narrative techniques, very few do so to such powerful effect. Through a range of structural devices, narrative focus, voice, and pure pathos, Diaz manages to really overpower your senses. I admit to having played maybe three quarters of the role playing games Oscar does (at least I had sports as well...) and there are many interesting cultural collisions that Diaz develops throughout the novel, such as between muy macho streetwise Dominican brutality with dungeons and dragons, Tolkein and fantastic four. This, to go along with strong, well-layered character development and a constant feeling of imminent doom thoroughout: a product, maybe, of the many prolepsis peppered throughout the story (something that would normally annoy me, but, Diaz , through his development of the sound of the narration, manages to make it work and work masterfully. I was kinda set to give it four stars, but the finale convinced me to give it another half. You will see what I mean: it is both beautiful without being hackneyed.
(Much has been said elsewhere of the DR historical footnotes and the pepperings of DR Spanish. I found neither of these things a problem. Why? a) I enjoy history, and the footnotes are not dry, but remian in the narrator's very conversational voice; b) despite my very limited Spanish skills, I could kinda work out the intent, and it's the sound of it that really counts, the desgination of a moment. There is a website with all the translations and various Domincanos arguing over the finer points of meaning. I did end up looking up the famous phrase Trujillo's assassin utters before finishing him off...)(less)
I do not give five stars lightly. (Now that this review has been transferred to Good Reads, which doesn't give half stars, this opening is a little em...moreI do not give five stars lightly. (Now that this review has been transferred to Good Reads, which doesn't give half stars, this opening is a little empty...I have had to move many 4.5 star ratings to five, since I couldn't drop them back to 4. Either way, you get the point...)
This verse novel is probably the most startling reading experience I have had in some time. It is a literary achievement on a scale with Homer: imagining Homer was a contemporary Australian that is, and, if someone had told me that it had taken the author most of their life to write, I could have believed them. You may have to put all you've heard about Les - from him or others - to the most furtherest pocket of your mind to grasp this: hard, but try. It's worth it. There is a marvelous ebb and flow to the often lyric verse that allows the story to really sneak up on you. It is, perhaps, not something to read in one sitting, or even two or three. You need to let it settle. Murray has managed to weld together a kind of modern Australian uber-narrative with a great yarn, a pure, poetry-breathing experience, and an uncompromising authenticity with how it depicts and engages with the modern human experience. It is both touching and brash. It is the poet made a poem.(less)
Hubert Selby Jr.'s masterwork is just that: a masterwork. There are a range of joys to explore in this novel, including Selby Jr's use of style, his f...moreHubert Selby Jr.'s masterwork is just that: a masterwork. There are a range of joys to explore in this novel, including Selby Jr's use of style, his fragmented structure, his beautifully rendered characters who are often so fundemntally appalling and compelling at the same time. and the broken up mish-mash of bizarre moral edges, just to name a few. The pure, confronting nature of such ordinary evil and how it is presented is exhillarating and deeply depressing at the same time. What an explosion on the page for the middle class readers of the time this was! Sure, this book remains within a particular georgraphical and social bubble to some extent - perhaps why so few bookshops in Australia seem to stock it - but there is so much more to it than a piece of post-war subversive Americana. Everyone should read it at some point, particularly in an age where 'subversive' has almost become an ice-cream flavour... (less)
My attorney advised me to read this book. He said that it could count in lieu of community service and I should report my findings to Professor Alista...moreMy attorney advised me to read this book. He said that it could count in lieu of community service and I should report my findings to Professor Alistair Bean, down at the Tax Agency.
But Bean was dogging me from the start. When I rang the Agency, this girl told me he wasn't there. But I could tell from her tone that she was hiding something nasty, some kind of hurt, behind that taffy apple & rum/raisen voice. I could hear her mouth purse between each word, and I could hear the sound of her tuna fish lips tapping together like they were beached on a wet shore.
'Really, I've never heard of him.'
'You've never heard of him?'
Tap. Tap. 'That's what I said. I've never heard of him. Umm...'
'You've never heard of him.' But this time, I strung the 'never' out so it was like n-ehhhhhhhhhhhhh-ver.'
I kept repeating myself, experimenting with different ways of saying 'never' and feeling the different ways it made my lips tap together until she hung up.
I was suddenly disgusted with the whole affair, so I said to the empty telephone signal: 'This Thomo guy really had something going on here. I mean, this novel has a shape, you know what I mean, Bean?' Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. 'Yeah, the structure is the theme, Bean.' Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. 'Well, Structure's not just something to hang your hat on.' Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. 'But that's what I'm saying.' Meeep. 'I...' Meep.
This children’s edition, brilliantly illustrated by Chris Riddell, was enjoyed by both my children and myself over many nights. Broken up nicely into...moreThis children’s edition, brilliantly illustrated by Chris Riddell, was enjoyed by both my children and myself over many nights. Broken up nicely into good night-time reading chunks, it managed to retain much of the essence of the adult work while making it very accessible as a children’s narrative.
‘Why did he have to die?’ my daughter wanted to know. ‘It’s sad.’
‘If he had’ve stayed mad, he would have lived,’ my son suggested.
That our illusions preserve us was a good take on the denouement. (less)
Philip Roth is the kind of writer that just doesn't seem to show up anymore. He is unflinching, fearless and unafraid. He doesn't mind getting really...morePhilip Roth is the kind of writer that just doesn't seem to show up anymore. He is unflinching, fearless and unafraid. He doesn't mind getting really messy, since his topic - being human - is one of the most messy there is.
'The most outrageously funny book about sex yet written' is quotes 'The Guardian' on my cover, which is misleading (but, of course, the publisher is trying to grab the brower's attention, I realise...). It's not 'about sex', unless you're being very broad and Freudian about the title 'sex'.
There's such a beautiful truthness to this story; Roth creates such humans on the page with the fevered and ecstatic ease of Portnoy spraying out another sudden string of semen.
It made me laugh heartily on occasions. My daughter had to come in and see what was up in my quiet lounge, since, due to headphones piping Bach into me, I hadn't realised just how loud I was. (When Portnoy is giving his version of what mothers say to other mothers about their sons. You'll know it when you read it...)