Although a little dated this novel is definitely a concise portrait of a man on the fringe. We follow James Bevan with every gulp of gin and tonic, wh...moreAlthough a little dated this novel is definitely a concise portrait of a man on the fringe. We follow James Bevan with every gulp of gin and tonic, whiskey, rum, or whatever he happens to be drinking as he attempts to anesthetize his existance into permanent oblivion. Through this alcohol induced derangement Bevan winds up in a search of his own redemption and it's not a pleasant journey to follow. Bevan and Cora, his wife, are not the best company to spend time with. I kind of figured what Cora's difficulties were early on so it came as no big surprise when she finally admitted it to herself toward the end of the novel. I've heard of David Goodis over the years, knew of some of the titles but never got around to reading him. If you're going to venture into the murky shadows of noir fiction then Goodis should be read only I don't think this is the best novel to start with. I have a copy ofNight Squadwhich I intend to read in the very near future. I've heard that it's one of his best novels. One interesting aspect of the book was Goodis's descriptions of the racial and economic dichotomy of the tourist Jamica as to the reality of life for the residents of the island. Bevan ventures into territory no tourist would ever dare and there are some insights that I don't think were given too much consideration when the book was written circa 1955. The character Winnie, who owns the Barry Street bar in the poor section of Kingston personifies the hardship and disappointments life has to offer to the people of an impoverished island country. My only wish was that Goodis didn't employ the Kingston accent phonetically in the dialogue. Maybe a few words sprinkled here and there and you get the drift.(less)
I have no problem with an author injecting himself into his novel as an attempt to write a pure and vital work of historical fiction or any fiction fo...moreI have no problem with an author injecting himself into his novel as an attempt to write a pure and vital work of historical fiction or any fiction for that matter-post modern or otherwise(otherwise being an infranovel as Binet describes what he's writing in Section 205) Unfortunately I found this author too whining in tone and not at all as clever when described by reviewers in the NYT, the Guardian, etc. It was a disappointment and I'm almost sorry to have to say this.There were passages that captivated my interest only to be pulled out of the story as the author dissected his reasons, motivations, and qualms by not adding fictional elements to a historical novel that did not have a one hundred percent factual element of truth. I did read an account of Heydrich's assasination back in 1990 or 91. For any reader interested in a detailed, researched, non-fiction book may I suggest The Killing of Reinhard Heydrich: The SS Butcher of Prague. This is a 'tour-de-force' as Binet's novel has often been described.Heydrich's assasination is an important story and one that should be known. Unfortunately for Binet it was done better as a work of non-fiction.(less)
With neither humor nor depth, this novel plods unbelievably on toward one scene of revenge exacting violence after the next. It’s as though the prose...moreWith neither humor nor depth, this novel plods unbelievably on toward one scene of revenge exacting violence after the next. It’s as though the prose gets in the way for the next blood spurting money shot to take place so might as well repeat the wording of the sentences one after the other because what the writer wants to get to is the wet work executed upon the deviates and pervs that her character is slaughtering. I was waiting, almost hoping, for a Travis Bickle like scene when Bella, in her dreary basement apartment, would be standing in front of the mirror and question the imaginary object of her lethal abhorrence if he’s ‘ looking at me’? The concept of the novel doesn’t shock or offend me; on the contrary. It could have been brilliant but the execution was tedious and bereft of passion. I’m not spending any more time on this. It’s not worth burning the calories to think. (less)
As I have written this novel it's safe to say I have read it over and over and then some.I'm not about to rate my own work because after completion an...moreAs I have written this novel it's safe to say I have read it over and over and then some.I'm not about to rate my own work because after completion and publication it belongs to the reader to decide.Some have given two stars, another three, and a couple of four stars. None of them are my parents, spouse, siblings or friends. I don't know who they are.As long as the time they spent with the book was enjoyable and a fun toy for their head then I'm happy. Plus I'm not all that sure I buy into the Goodreads rating system anyway - especially when it concerns the giveaway program. During the month it was listed I would periodically see who had entered and what sort of books they read. A lot of people had the same taste in reading as I did and might have enjoyed the book - might have - but they weren't winners. I'll enter a giveaway only if the book listed would really be of interest to me, not simply to get something for free. In fact I don't even know if some of the winners even got my book, especially when mailing one to Australia and several to some obscure part of Canada.I would imagine if they didn't get their books I would have been informed by now. For my next book which will be available shortly I'll do a giveaway for no more than two weeks available to readers in the United States only and five copies.The first giveaway was rather underwhelming - The Sacrifice Area will merely remain on somebody's "to read" shelf along with hundreds of others. Even I can't get to my to read list and start checking them off but I'm not about to keep adding to it. This has never been a numbers game for me. I'd rather play bingo if that's the case.(less)
The City and the City This novel generated a lot of fascination while reading. It demanded a lot of attention and at times I had go back and reconnect...moreThe City and the City This novel generated a lot of fascination while reading. It demanded a lot of attention and at times I had go back and reconnect to certain concepts and names (especially ‘crosshatching’ when first mentioned) but in no way did this detract. Before I had ever heard Mieville speak on this book I did get this dreamlike structure of how the two cities interacted. I could not help but think of the influences that generated this wholly unique position of these metropolitan neighbors. East and West Berlin came immediately to mind as did North and South Korea, and most notably Belfast, Northern Ireland. Any city or country dichotomized by political and/or cultural differences were invoked as I read it. None of this detracts from being one of the most imaginative detective stories or “procedural” if you will, but a procedural based in the subconscious of dreams, without being overt. I’ve read certain complaints about the third mysterious city of Orciny not taken to its most logical conclusion: that it most definitely exists. Here the author has left it up in the air, like most dream/surrealist narratives we are sent down paths that add more layers of mystery rather than revelation. I don’t mind if something remains unclear or still a mystery in some works, either novels or even film; providing the work is richly imagined and well executed as this book is. And I don’t think Mieville did it on purpose to extract a sequel from the Orciny mystery. It totally works for me and captured my interest and I found no fault in the author’s manner of winding it up. At the risk of appearing lazy I am including what I wrote for my book club discussion in the beginning of September only because the work was so fresh in my mind. Before I do I will say that The City and The City is one of those novels that I will come back to over time and reread. I recommend that anyone with an interest in detective fiction, the unusual, mysteries, and the surreal give it a try. It was a worthy effort.
The concept of the actual existence of Orciny so predominated the book (and my imagination) that I could not help but wonder if the two cities were like a Rorschach. The image on one side of the seam being Beszel and on the other UlQoma but in its entirety the image would be called Orciny. The reader is not left with a clear cut answer as to this hidden third city's actual existence. Orciny is based on myth despite the strange, potentially powerful artifacts uncovered at the archeological dig and the interest these objects generated for some powerful interests. I’m not disappointed with Mieville's choice of leaving Orciny a mystery; it was born in the myth of the past and like all myths there exists an element of realty. I can't say enough about how deeply and well imagined this book is: so many textures and nuances (which add to the 'noir' aspect of this unusual detective story). If you've ever lived in a large metropolitan area, or a megalopolis like here in the north-east USA you can't help but notice the dichotomy of neighborhoods, sectors, satellite towns and smaller cities. The inhabitant has his/her own manner of unseeing at times: the homeless that sleep on cathedral steps, neighborhoods so dangerous you remain far outside its borders. As far as "cross-hatching" is concerned I couldn't help but be reminded of Greenwich Village on the lower east side of Manhattan bordering Alphabet City. These are all personal impressions of so few of the many rich details of this book. After reading The City & The City I will never see (or unsee) a city, any city, the same ever again. (less)
Leviathan – Published in ’92, Auster’s themes are once again prevalent in this work: happenstance, failure, disappointment, coincidence and most impor...moreLeviathan – Published in ’92, Auster’s themes are once again prevalent in this work: happenstance, failure, disappointment, coincidence and most importantly, identity - in this case the identities of the novelist (the character Peter Aarons) and the subject of his latest book, the protagonist Ben Sachs. The author, Aarons, is up against one of the most impossible of deadlines: to finish the book about his friend before the completion of a police investigation in which the author could be regarded as both witness and quite possibly an accessory after the fact. I haven’t read anything by Auster since City of Glass when it was first published during the mid-eighties I believe, before its inclusion in the now familiar The New York Trilogy. I had bought the slender volume expecting something else, some other story and upon retrospect I had supplanted the desire of what I wanted to read rather than accepting what was in front of me. As I’ve learned readers get better over time, they mature; or at least they should. Needless to say I’ll have to revisit that earlier work again. There is no denying he’s a superb writer and his narrative fixed my attention. Although Ben Sachs is the focal point of the book there is another supporting character, Maria Turner, the downtown Manhattan artist/photographer, whom the author could devote an entire novel to. In fact I found her to be the most intriguing of all. The processes she employs for her art was beyond unusual; it was brilliant in concept and execution. I don’t know how to sum it up in a sentence or two: in order to take a photograph of her subject matter, usually an individual, she creates a myth of the reality of herself as photographer/artist and then interweaves that self with the object of her interest. In one instance her technique leads to a shockingly violent episode. Maria survives within an inch of her life, fortunately. By the middle of the novel a scene took place that was essential to the drive of the story and laden with the major theme of all Auster’s books, chance or coincidence. I found the implausibility disheartening; I was unable to suspend disbelief and found it too annoying to let it go. But then I found myself analyzing the chance, or coincidence, as to why this particular book fell into my hands the way it had. I was in the public library killing some time. I didn’t know what book I’d check out; I didn’t even know if I was so inclined. I certainly wasn’t looking for Paul Auster; he hasn’t been on my radar lately, if at all. I read both flaps of the book cover, examined a dozen pages, and found a number of details that reminded me of something I’ve been working on; a rough draft of a novel that deals with a friendship that spans a couple of decades, that involves Manhattan, the downtown New York art/film scene, of relationships that become estranged over time and how an individual is suddenly thrust into a specific role without the knowledge or tools in order to fulfill such a task. There are big differences in what I’m attempting to achieve and the novel that I held in my hands but there was a resonance that I couldn’t disregard. Like a book that chooses its reader, as it has occurred to me on more than one occasion, so too does the chance, the coincidence, of everyday life that can be dismissed as trifling, or at other times laden with significance. Upon this flash of recognition the particular scene in the novel ceased to bother and I went with it, attentively, to the very end.(less)