I loved The Instructions and have been saving this short story collection by Levin with anticipation. Each of these stories is a tight tragicomic burs...moreI loved The Instructions and have been saving this short story collection by Levin with anticipation. Each of these stories is a tight tragicomic burst. The narrators tend to be misanthropic characters who refuse to see their world view as askew.
Like most stories these vignettes often revolve around sex and violence, disturbingly combined in the sadomasochistic frenzy of Jane Tell. Halfway through the book there is a flurry of eight mini-stories (one to two pages long) which are as perfect as a dollop of sour cream. Of these, Important Men stands out as a highlight.
Levin impresses with his ability to present "damaged" characters without ever quite defining exactly how it is they sit outside society's norms. He is wickedly intelligent and can present a meta joke that I know I don't fully understand, but thoroughly enjoy the telling of nonetheless - without making me feel like a fool. (less)
When I read The Circle as allegory it felt heavy handed in its obtuse explanations.
When I changed my viewpoint and read it as an actual prediction it...moreWhen I read The Circle as allegory it felt heavy handed in its obtuse explanations.
When I changed my viewpoint and read it as an actual prediction it started to make more literary sense.
This is an interesting book, but also my least favorite novel by Eggers. I couldn't relate to the main character, her logic and intelligence seemed inconsistent and unrealistic. Scenes involving intimacy are so bad they could have been written by Ayn Rand.
Eggers is steadfast in his bold predictions but flawed in how he tries to humanize societal changes through their impact on a single individual. An argument could be made that the main character represents the average person while all the other characters represent the outliers in society - the problem is that this tactic seems converse to the ultimate plot goals.
Do you love a suspenseful horror film? Not a gore fest. Something perched between occult noir and a very scary bump in the night. If you do, then do y...moreDo you love a suspenseful horror film? Not a gore fest. Something perched between occult noir and a very scary bump in the night. If you do, then do yourself a favor and read Night Film.
This book will benefit from the same setting a good scary movie does - i.e. read it alone in the dark on a stormy night. Let your brain run wild with the imagery Pessl deftly lays out and you are in for a wonderful ride.
I would favorably compare this book to Kubrick's Apocalypse Now. It is a perfectly crafted story that pushes you ever closer towards inevitable darkness. Kudos to Pessl for successfully pushing time worn genres past their known boundaries. (less)
I finished The Last Unicorn and really loved it. This book is a fairy tale aware of its place among other tales. It tells the story of a unicorn who r...moreI finished The Last Unicorn and really loved it. This book is a fairy tale aware of its place among other tales. It tells the story of a unicorn who realizes she may be the last unicorn in existence and sets out to disprove that theory. She meets characters who defy their archetypes and goes on an unequaled adventure. The author's prose carries a magical quality that was exhilarating to read.
"Do you know what I am, butterfly?" the unicorn asked hopefully, and he replied, "Excellent well, you're a fishmonger. You're my everything, you are my sunshine, you are old and gray and full of sleep, you're my pickle-face, consumptive Mary Jane." He paused, fluttering his wings against the wind, and added conversationally, "your name is a golden bell hung in my heart. I would break my body to pieces to call you once by your name."
Are their other unicorns left? When asked the magician Schmendrick surmises "They are surely gone, lady, all but you. When you walk, you make an echo where they used to be."
Schmendrick is a character you should look forward to reading about. Here he prepares to counter an attack: The magician stood erect, menacing the attackers with demons, metamorphoses, paralyzing ailments, and secret Judo holds.
One amazing thing about this novel is how Beagle takes things that generally annoy me like songs and overt alliteration and charms me instead. Two examples (I shan't include any of the songs here but let me say this - they are impossible not to "sing" as you read them):
You are bored with bliss, satiated with sensation, jaded with jejune joys.
He forbids everything, from lights to lutes, from fires to fairs and singing to sinning; from books and beer and talk of spring to games you play with bits of string.
I believe these few quotes may do better than any review I could write to encourage your reading of this story. Beagle has created a world which delighted me with dark corners, evil curses, and heroes who haven't yet figured out their destiny. (less)