I loved the first half - it's a bit Marquez-like (Desdemona reminds me so much of Ursula in One Hundred Years of Solitude), up-tempo, and riveting. As...moreI loved the first half - it's a bit Marquez-like (Desdemona reminds me so much of Ursula in One Hundred Years of Solitude), up-tempo, and riveting. As the story progressed to Cali's school and her love affair with the Object, I began to get weary of the story for some reason. It's a really good book though; I just found the last parts not as fascinating as the first half.(less)
Long (1000+ pages), difficult diction (e.g.,amanuensis, lycanthropy, inspissate, fantods, etc.), but the story is great and humor is amazing. I laughe...moreLong (1000+ pages), difficult diction (e.g.,amanuensis, lycanthropy, inspissate, fantods, etc.), but the story is great and humor is amazing. I laughed aloud for a few minutes continuously at parts. Def. worth it.(less)
Capote's style is a menagerie of 4-parts precision, 2-parts lyricism, and 4-parts stiffness, which is not my favorite cocktail to say the least. I did...moreCapote's style is a menagerie of 4-parts precision, 2-parts lyricism, and 4-parts stiffness, which is not my favorite cocktail to say the least. I did appreciate the concise aspect of it, though.
As for the story, the fact that it is a "non-fiction novel" - a category Capote made up - sheds the verisimilitude of an usual fiction and makes you reel from the naked force of truth, esp. when reading the murder scenes. To know that these people actually existed, and to know how and why they were murdered, is definitely a chilling experience that other fictions can rarely, if not never, deliver.
Being a "non-fiction novel," however, it was constrained to what was actually available to the author, thereby limiting the scope of the story. And this was quite unsatisfying at times. Another shortfall was also inevitably born of the category - the story sprawled and dealt with more "characters" than I wished to know, or care. At the same time, though, the myriad characters gave more credibility to the account and their vignettes read like interesting magazine articles.
I guess the book did what it purports to do: to reconstruct and recount a truthful account of a murder without motive. As a story, though, it was uneven in parts, due to the myriad accounts and interviews of the people surrounding the incident.
The three novels - Molloy, Malone Dies, and the Unnamable - are considered one of the greatest trilogies written in the 20th century. I must disagree....moreThe three novels - Molloy, Malone Dies, and the Unnamable - are considered one of the greatest trilogies written in the 20th century. I must disagree.
When assessing a work of art, I think, one ought to consider at least three things: 1) style; 2) story; and 3) artistic merit against a backdrop of the historical, cultural, and artistic trends of the day.
Did Beckett create a new genre, a new way to write novels and dramas? Undoubtedly yes. 521 pages of constant, disconnected, meaningless blabber, acutely expressing the painfulness of existence nearing and struggling against death, is something I have never encountered before. But it is, and will be, the most difficult of all the books I read, and will have read, in the past and the future. The difficulty is,not that of, say, Joyce's Ulysses, or Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. It's the difficulty of sheer boredom, of staying focused on the drivel that keeps going without purpose or meaning.
In a sense, it does what I think it purports to do; namely, to express life struggling against death in its death throes. I, the reader, had to really struggle through the reading as life struggled against death. The whole book is a murmur, a voice that keeps murmuring for the sake of murmuring. "I can't go on," it says, "you must go on, I will go on." It did go on, and I had to actually read the text aloud in order to focus; otherwise I'd have been reduced to half-consciousness. Ironically, the voice on the page came alive - it really became voice - through my mouth. I murmured the words on the train to stay focused, murmuring the meaningless murmur that was disengaged from its source.
Artistically, then, I concede him the medal, for his boldness in stripping the novel of its traditional elements, and his lyrical prose. But my tribute stops there. Regardless of its artistic merit, it was maddeningly and frustratingly - and one might even say meaninglessly - boring. And for that, I did not in the least enjoy reading it. Even his humor, which numerous reviewers find "hilarious," I found it dull. There were maybe one or two places I found mildly funny, and aside from that, the book was, in my opinion, devoid of any kind of hilarity.
So for all the reasons above, I give it 1 star, because, after all, I did not like it, and although I do appreciate his artistic originality, I didn't think it offset the hellish unfun-ness of it all.(less)
This massive 726-page comedy in unattributed dialogue is a thick, tough read. I wouldn't say the story is amazing, but it...moreBetter than his other works--
This massive 726-page comedy in unattributed dialogue is a thick, tough read. I wouldn't say the story is amazing, but it is entertaining enough to keep reading AFTER the first 150 pages which comprises the story's slow, uneventful, and often boring beginning.
After spending a month going through it, I think that William Gaddis is a great writer of dialogue and a mediocre storyteller with a good sense of humor. The way he captures spoken American English is simply genius. W/r/t his sense of humor, I did laugh out loud at parts, but didn't think him as funny as DFW. And the story. It's there, and unlike other modern/postmodern works, it's got an ending which is always nice (unlike DeLillo's Underworld or Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow), and an entertaining plot (in stark contrast to Joyce's Ulysses and Beckett's trilogy), but due to the sheer abundance of characters, the story has no focus and I never made any connection and identified with any of them (although I was rather fond of Jack Gibbs). JR is also better than his other works I read - A Frolic of His Own (which was frustrating to read at parts because I thought a lot of the scenes were pointless) and Agapē Agape (just an old dying man rambling about his work throughout).
Like other modern and postmodern works, the book has everything going against itself to be read by the general public despite winning the National Book Award. Characters and company names abound, story continues without any chapter break as characters' voices come and go, and the business transactions that form the spine of the story are highly complex and difficult to keep track of.
The main difficulties in going through this novel are: 1) figuring out who's talking and what's going on from the dialogue, which fortunately gets easier as you slog through the story and get used to the lilt and locution of the characters; and 2) keeping track of all the people and companies' names and business deals and understanding how they are all related to one another.
Overall, a good comedy with amazing dialogue. It just takes patience to go through.