Only read the first few chapters and stopped. Meh. This must be what good lit is considered to be in the Age of Instagram. A trite novel about self-poOnly read the first few chapters and stopped. Meh. This must be what good lit is considered to be in the Age of Instagram. A trite novel about self-possessed characters, centered upon the idea that minimalist snark is style. Not one of your memorable Irish satirists....more
A brilliant, harrowing, engrossing kaleidoscope of voices on the end of the Soviets and "new" Russia. Alexievich weaves interviews with an expert earA brilliant, harrowing, engrossing kaleidoscope of voices on the end of the Soviets and "new" Russia. Alexievich weaves interviews with an expert ear for the intricacies of detail, and in the end, one is left wondering what (if any) good has been wrought upon Russia by Putin and his fellow kleptocrats. The Soviet-minded interviewed do have a blind eye at times towards the cruelty and murder of Stalin and those who followed, but even many who suffered in the gulags seem to say that they prefer the Soviets to the butchers who run the country now. But the book is hard to put down, even when some of the narratives recount some of the most horrible crimes ever inflicted upon innocent civilians - and often not by the Soviets, but by their fellow citizens.
Engrossing, flowing and amusing, Wallace was a great writer, with this his sophomore debut. Heavy use of dialogue and shifting narratives make the thrEngrossing, flowing and amusing, Wallace was a great writer, with this his sophomore debut. Heavy use of dialogue and shifting narratives make the thread obscure at times, but the story remains engrossing if a bit unclear at times. Many threads left untied at the end, the worst that can be said about the novel is that it is basically and extended shaggy-dog story, with plenty of barbs at American society, capitalism, sexism, and pet-food. Very Pynchon-esque....more
Started this book over Christmas break, then forgot to bring it with me to my teaching post abroad, and just finished it up. A barrage of loopy characStarted this book over Christmas break, then forgot to bring it with me to my teaching post abroad, and just finished it up. A barrage of loopy characters in California settings, from "Vineland County" (aka Humboldt) down to LA, streams of kaleidoscopic narrative and prescient observations on the fight between the old '60s left, and the ne0-fascism of the Raygun years. Throughout, Pynchon muses on the order to come, with a population hooked to the "Tube", a mind-controlling TV, a mass opiate, much like the internet today. A wild ride, sometimes a bit wearying as it all seems to come at you in the same, unvarying flow, but then there are insanely funny moments, like when Pynchon, again is riffing on TV, and a (fake) movie starring PeeWee Herman, "The Robert Musil Story." I just about died with that one ... An excellent read, but for some reason, not as satisfying as his other works......more
Shattuck, one of this country's most eminent and readable scholars on Modernism and the Avant Garde in the late 19th, and 20tth, centuries, provides wShattuck, one of this country's most eminent and readable scholars on Modernism and the Avant Garde in the late 19th, and 20tth, centuries, provides what seems impossible: a brief and almost simple (but never simplistic) guide to a famously long and complex book. Shattuck breaks the novel down thematically, with the organizing principle being what he famously wrote about in his earlier essay "Proust's Binoculars," a stereoscopic, or dual consciousness, that materializes in different ways throughout Proust's 3,000 page masterpiece: Marcel and the narrator; Combray and the Guermantes way; le beau monde of French society (the Guermantes) and the bohemian decadents (the Verdurins); and many others. This dual perspective is then refracted through either of two narrators (Marcel and the narrator) consciousness, as well as time and memory - and perception - to provide Proust's famously sinuous, style of prose and narration which, more than any other author, not just represents the shifting modalities of perception and though as-lived, is in many ways that perception itself. Excellent read - highly recommended for those who would know "In Search of Lost Time" (Shattuck's preferred translation of the title") better....more