The Great Gatsby is your neighbor you're best friends with until you find out he's a drug dealer. It charms you with some of the most elegant EnglishThe Great Gatsby is your neighbor you're best friends with until you find out he's a drug dealer. It charms you with some of the most elegant English prose ever published, making it difficult to discuss the novel without the urge to stammer awestruck about its beauty. It would be evidence enough to argue that F. Scott Fitzgerald was superhuman, if it wasn't for the fact that we know he also wrote This Side of Paradise.
But despite its magic, the rhetoric is just that, and it is a cruel facade. Behind the stunning glitter lies a story with all the discontent and intensity of the early Metallica albums. At its heart, The Great Gatsby throws the very nature of our desires into a harsh, shocking light. There may never be a character who so epitomizes tragically misplaced devotion as Jay Gatsby, and Daisy, his devotee, plays her part with perfect, innocent malevolence. Gatsby's competition, Tom Buchanan, stands aside watching, taunting and provoking with piercing vocal jabs and the constant boast of his enviable physique. The three jostle for position in an epic love triangle that lays waste to countless innocent victims, as well as both Eggs of Long Island. Every jab, hook, and uppercut is relayed by the instantly likable narrator Nick Carraway, seemingly the only voice of reason amongst all the chaos. But when those boats are finally borne back ceaselessly by the current, no one is left afloat. It is an ethical massacre, and Fitzgerald spares no lives; there is perhaps not a single character of any significance worthy even of a Sportsmanship Award from the Boys and Girls Club.
In a word, The Great Gatsby is about deception; Fitzgerald tints our glasses rosy with gorgeous prose and a narrator you want so much to trust, but leaves the lenses just translucent enough for us to see that Gatsby is getting the same treatment. And if Gatsby represents the truth of the American Dream, it means trouble for us all. Consider it the most pleasant insult you'll ever receive....more
I was disappointed by the film, finding myself unable to muster sympathy for the characters, but I was intrigued by the basic plot and so ventured outI was disappointed by the film, finding myself unable to muster sympathy for the characters, but I was intrigued by the basic plot and so ventured out to explore the novel. PD James' original creation follows a plot significantly different compared to that of the movie, but I found it to be no less disappointing. The main character, Theo, was perhaps even less likable, due mostly to his lack of conviction about anything during the first half of the book. I was never able to develop an intense fear of or hatred for the government against which the main characters rebelled; the "Council of England" did seem to ignore a few issues of compromised civil-rights, but for the most part presented fairly logical arguments for their pragmatic approach to governance as the human race aged into its final days. Thus, when the inevitable revelation of human pregnancy was revealed and the protagonists embarked on a quest to evade the government until the baby was born, I was unable to share their feelings of fear and despair, and I cared little when characters died. The book moved quickly, especially the second half, which allowed me to follow its absurd plotline through to its disappointing completion - the story was mostly well-written, save for moments of impending excitement that would be introduced with the sentence, "And then it happened." I commend James for her imagination; the basic premise is indeed quite intriguing. I can't say her execution held my interest, though....more
Play It As It Lays may have been written almost forty years ago, but it reads immediate and modern, bringing the Hollywood culture to life in all itsPlay It As It Lays may have been written almost forty years ago, but it reads immediate and modern, bringing the Hollywood culture to life in all its nihilistic, maddening glory. The novel reads incredibly quickly, and the story does not disappoint, especially for fans of the darker side of things....more
Chuck Klosterman's day job is as a rock critic for Spin Magazine, and that's quite apparent in Killing Yourself to Live. The book, an extension of a pChuck Klosterman's day job is as a rock critic for Spin Magazine, and that's quite apparent in Killing Yourself to Live. The book, an extension of a project he did for Spin involving a cross-country trip to sites where rock stars died, is engaging so long as Chuck sticks to music. The problem is, somewhere along the line he decided music wouldn't be enough. He makes several attempts at broad, philosophical generalizations about death, but none are particularly insightful and most are simply irritating. At one point he mentions Dave Eggers' suffocating influence on the memoir genre, and one can only hope Chuck realizes that he is perhaps the guiltiest of all in terms of Eggers style plagiarism. He even goes so far as to include a mock dialogue between himself and three of his female interests, a badly concealed homage to Eggers' imagined interview with an MTV's Real World talent scout in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. What keeps the reader going is the anticipation of the plot returning to anything relevant to music, so perhaps the book's greatest strong point is its pacing. In the end, though, no amount of witty rock criticism could overshadow the nagging doubt that maybe this project should never have been expanded from its original article form. The upside is that the title becomes quite relevant; the inclusion of the additional subject matter - faux intellectualism, every detail of Chuck's personal life, etc. - may be what allow the project to live in book form, but unfortunately that's also what's killing it....more
Thomas Pynchon is the kind of author you read for the sheer brilliance of his prose. V. is a profoundly twisted and confounding book, throwing in storThomas Pynchon is the kind of author you read for the sheer brilliance of his prose. V. is a profoundly twisted and confounding book, throwing in story lines and characters from so many different directions and time periods that it's impossible to always understand what's happening. Some chapters rely too heavily on form and too little on content, causing them to drag a bit, but most of Pynchon's first novel, especially the chapters that focus on the "Whole Sick Crew," is delightful and pleasantly challenging to read. It may be the kind of book that makes absolute sense the second time around, but it's going to be a while before I tackle it again, so for now, I recommend reading it for the insight into the mind of one the 20th century's most talented writers, and don't worry too much if you're totally lost every now and then....more
Cormac McCarthy uses his minimalist style to great effect in No Country for Old Men, making for an unstoppable and fascinating read. Most enticing perCormac McCarthy uses his minimalist style to great effect in No Country for Old Men, making for an unstoppable and fascinating read. Most enticing perhaps is the villain character Chigurh, defined by an inconquerable will and a penchant for philosophical musings delivered to his future victims. The pitting of Chigurh against Llewelyn Moss reminded me of the dynamics between Russell Crowe and Christian Bale in 3:10 to Yuma, featuring an antagonist who demanded respect and a protagonist who wasn't perfect but won over your sympathies. Any scene featuring either of the two is impossible to stop reading. Hats of to McCarthy for grabbing hold and not letting go....more
I have also read Cat's Cradle, Breakfast of Champions, and the legendary Slaughterhouse-Five, and I believe this, Mother Night, to be the finest amongI have also read Cat's Cradle, Breakfast of Champions, and the legendary Slaughterhouse-Five, and I believe this, Mother Night, to be the finest among them. Mother Night couples the reliably brilliant writing style of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. with a truly fascinating story. It is a beautiful, darkly comic investigation of the warped human psyche, and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone....more