I found O-Zone to be a really enjoyable science-fiction novel, impressively well written with an intriguing premise and a series of good ideas to expl...moreI found O-Zone to be a really enjoyable science-fiction novel, impressively well written with an intriguing premise and a series of good ideas to explore.
Theroux treats ideas of civilization, racism, decadence and closed communities with a huge dose of humanism, and creates a very memorable central character in Fizzy, the 15 year-old supermoron.
Unfortunately at times he appears in two minds as to whether he intends to write a thriller or a more philosophical piece, and as a consequence the pacing seems to slip in some areas - there's really no need for the story itself to be 500 pages long, but it's justified because Theroux wants to do more than tell the story.
The grim and uncompromising lives of the 'aliens' who live outside closed cities such as New York are skilfully contrasted with the ridiculous notions of the well-off owners, who take an almost childlike attitude to technology, wealth, liberty and sex. Theroux has tremendous skill in character observations and I thoroughly enjoyed these humorous passages.
O-Zone's post-apocalyptic setting is familiar ground for sci-fi, and the motivations of his characters can seem contradictory and ultimately confusing. But despite these flaws Theroux is a good storyteller who retains our interest through to his tale's finale.(less)
In spite of any number of things (my pitiful personal knowledge of drama and Shakespeare's work, my internet-ravaged attention span...) I rather enjoy...moreIn spite of any number of things (my pitiful personal knowledge of drama and Shakespeare's work, my internet-ravaged attention span...) I rather enjoyed this book.
Particularly interesting to me was the account of the alterations that drama underwent in the lead-up to the Shakespearean period, from the Mystery Cycles to the Morality Plays, and the struggle that dramatists faced in trying to work out where the audience should place in the worlds they created.
For this the chapter entitled "the tyrrany of the audience" makes particularly interesting reading - I did not realise how conflicted these writers were in attempting to find some pretext to explain why the scenes they'd devised might include a hundred spectators.
The first half of the book traces the development of the audience role in english drama prior to the Elizebethans, with the second half discussing how the idea of the play was presented by Shakespeare himself.
The contributing influences of medieval traditions, classical dramatists such as Plautine and Terence, and the incoming Morality writers are brought together skilfully by Righter, who makes sense of them and explains in a way even this layman can understand! Ultimately this gives us the prerequisite understanding of how Elizabethan audiences were treated and interacted with, before we tackle the work of The Bard himself.
While the details of how Shakespeare's characters reflected on the ideas of actors and their own myriad deceptions and 'counterfeits' are no doubt interesting, I flagged somewhat, as these would be better suited to someone with more knowledge of Shakespeare than myself. However, Righter has enthusiasm for her subject, and it does make me want to read these plays she's referring to.
Even as it gets more specific this half does continue to sum up the changes in Shakespeare's writing as it goes, raising interesting questions - for example, why does Shakespeare's attitude towards theatre and acting alter so radically following Hamlet?
While this book will doubtless be of more interest to people who know more than myself about Shakespeare's plays, nevertheless I felt that it provided an interesting general insight into the 'Idea of the Play' in the 16th and 17th centuries, and a good place to start a further investigation into Shakespeare.(less)
I think I wanted to like The Burnt-out Town of Miracles, and although I sort of did, I couldn't find a great deal to latch onto. It's a book that can...moreI think I wanted to like The Burnt-out Town of Miracles, and although I sort of did, I couldn't find a great deal to latch onto. It's a book that can both be quite beautiful in it's simplicity and pass you by with its understatedness.
Timo, who narrates the majority of the book, is a great character, a man whose view on life may be simple but whose compulsions are unpredictable and totally human. We can't help but root for Timo and the fragile souls he meets in the course of the story. His approach to making sense of things is ultimately very touching.
The roles of some of the other characters seem to be incompletely filled. Towards the end of the book one very much feels that Jacobsen wants you to complete the emotional side of the tale for yourself. The language, similarly, tends to leave you to plenty of space to make the story your own.
Jacobsen's a good storyteller - the story is well paced and the emphasis is placed firmly on characters, who do develop over the course of the story. Maybe for this reason I expected a more concrete ending. Maybe this is just hindsight, but I could have guessed - the whole tale has a wistful and vague feel to it that fits with the way it eventually tails off.
The book failed to rough me up or stun me, I just felt vaguely happy to have read a nice book. Maybe a few of the images I encountered along the way will return. But I can't help but feel there could have been more there.(less)
This was somewhat difficult to get through. Some tremendous passages but also that non-linear haziness of recollection, a feeling I was missing someth...moreThis was somewhat difficult to get through. Some tremendous passages but also that non-linear haziness of recollection, a feeling I was missing something. So maybe I didn't appreciate it as I should, probably I was finding less time for reading and needed something with a more distinct plot, because to snatch 3 pages of this at a time did not work out. Must re-read sometime.(less)
Fully enjoyed this book, deliciously colourful and trashy. Initially I certainly preferred the Heart of Darkness homage set in the 18th century, but a...moreFully enjoyed this book, deliciously colourful and trashy. Initially I certainly preferred the Heart of Darkness homage set in the 18th century, but as things progressed I enjoyed the other storylines more and that one a little less.
McDonald's got a great style for this kind of book, although where he let the punctuation give way it did make me feel a bit nauseous. Thoroughly modern stuff, internal monologues chopped and sprayed through paragraphs. At any rate, his language remained good fun throughout, and he changed pace nicely between storylines. Loved the heavily researched Brazilian stuff, could have done with a larger glossary.
Storyline is good, not as clever as it first seemed but nicely in keeping with the fun style of the book. Slightly disappointed in the ending, a bit too much psychedelia, a bit too direct a tie-up for my liking.