The quotes on the cover describe this book as witty and scurrilous, humorous and amusing. It is undoubtedly witty, although many cultural references m...moreThe quotes on the cover describe this book as witty and scurrilous, humorous and amusing. It is undoubtedly witty, although many cultural references may seem obscure to a reader not familiar with Russian culture and/or literature. It is scurrilous to the point of being vulgar and obscene, but the vulgarity and obscenity are artless to the point of seeming innocent. I probably could have found this book amusing half a year ago, but I've seen too much since and today I find it mainly frightening.
"As a writer, I used to be influenced by the Moscow Underground, which stressed the importance of remaining apolitical," says Sorokin on the cover. "Our favourite anecdote went: when the German army was entering Paris, Picasso sat in his house and painted an apple. That was also the general attitude in Moscow: you must sit and paint your apple, no matter what happens around you. I had been sticking to this rule until I turned fifty. Today I speak with the voice of a citizen awoken."
Sorokin is witty, humorous and amusing, but I think that he is also frightened.(less)
I am deeply prejudiced against American soldiers in war. I blame bad American patriotic movies for that; movies that I never sought but they were thro...moreI am deeply prejudiced against American soldiers in war. I blame bad American patriotic movies for that; movies that I never sought but they were thrown upon me once in a while. There is no escape from the American pop culture, and once you're cornered by it, there is no escape from prejudice.
Thus, for a long time I kept my distance from Heller's writing. No matter the reviews; I cannot like it if it tells another story of those sweaty, dirty bastards with rotten hearts or suffering from an illness of patriotic idiocy. I can take wars, but put American soldiers in them and I can't take them anymore - that's what I thought before reading this book. But then a few friends of mine who know what I like strongly recommended it, so I gave it a chance.
I hated the world and the characters from the very beginning, because it was war and there were American soldiers in it. The world was twisted and the time distorted; full of mediocre and mean men in power, and of narrow-minded and mean men without power. But the writing was excellent, so I kept reading, and suddenly I got enraptured, taken by force into this dreadful world, into a skin of a character who hated that world as much as I did. This is a masterpiece. I am so relieved that I escaped it at last. See you guys in Sweden.(less)
It is a book about nothing and nothing really happens there. Some people get together in a country house and pretend to have fun. That's it.
It is amaz...moreIt is a book about nothing and nothing really happens there. Some people get together in a country house and pretend to have fun. That's it.
It is amazing how rich such nothing can be! It can be a philosophical treatise, a sermon, a funny short story, a tragedy and romance. And it is - it is all of these things.
The book is not particularly good overall - it is a hodgepodge of a little bit of everything. But, oh my, you really can see the beginnings of a literary genius! It was Huxley's first published novel - he was a kid of 25 then, so there's no surprise that the novel is not of top quality. But even then and there he wrote some of the best paragraphs I have ever seen. It is a strange, uneven book, sometimes almost boring, at other times totally captivating. Three stars for the quality and another on the top of that for the opportunity to see the genius in development :-)(less)
Romantic and naturalistic. Sexual and physiological. The opposites melted into a surprisingly fluent narrative and a consistent picture. Brave adventu...moreRomantic and naturalistic. Sexual and physiological. The opposites melted into a surprisingly fluent narrative and a consistent picture. Brave adventure into the human soul, and you need to be brave to understand the full power of the book - brave enough to admit that it is not about some abstract people, but about things that can happen and at times do happen in your own head.(less)
I believe that many of Harry Potter fans were, are and will be awfully disappointed with this book.
It is an amazing book nevertheless.
It took me a whi...moreI believe that many of Harry Potter fans were, are and will be awfully disappointed with this book.
It is an amazing book nevertheless.
It took me a while before I became engulfed in its atmosphere, before I started feeling attached to some characters and despise others. It takes a lot of time to get to know them. The narrative is detailed, almost real time, so we get to know the place and the people slowly, as if we were visitors in the town of Pagford ourselves. In the beginning, I was slightly tired with too much detail, but with the reading progress I felt more and more drawn into the picture, until finally I was there myself. It’s a type of magic that only great talents can perform.
But that’s all the magic that is there – the novel is very down-to-earth. It describes our world, our neighbours and our troubled selves. The detailed narrative not only offers an exact picture of its background, it also scrutinises its characters through and through. They are real. They are very convincingly alive.
While reading, I could not help thinking that Rowling had taken her popularity very seriously, and that she had aimed at forcing her fellow citizens to look into the mirror of her story – the mirror that is not at all curved, although it shows very sharp contours. Not many people can do that; great authorities, philosophers, scientists, doctors, social workers and sometimes even politicians try to bring attention to some problems, but who listens to them? And Rowling, having already gathered the whole world’s attention, can speak loudly. And she does. She proves herself not only as a high-class writer, but also as a sensitive, wise and careful observer of the world.