I'm still not sure whether I think Lewis Carroll created a fantastic piece of fantasy or a great big pile of nonsense. I suspect it's a combination ofI'm still not sure whether I think Lewis Carroll created a fantastic piece of fantasy or a great big pile of nonsense. I suspect it's a combination of the two. I like some of Alice's adventures - really, how could I not? - but Wonderland was always leaning a bit towards the negative side of bizarre for me....more
I have a little inner book snob that desperately wants to like Vonnegut. In the very unlikely event that I should find myself at a convention of bookiI have a little inner book snob that desperately wants to like Vonnegut. In the very unlikely event that I should find myself at a convention of bookish intellectuals, I feel like I'd fit right in if I sipped my champagne and said "Oh yes, indeed, I simply adore what Vonnegut has to say about the absence of free will..."
This is the kind of bollocks that runs through my mind on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, I just don't find him that funny most of the time. Perhaps jokes about open beavers are funnier to readers who don't have vaginas - who knows? - but it goes sailing right over my head. Maybe this is why my invitation to the bookish intellectual convention seems to have got lost in the mail.
He also repeats the phrase "which looked like this" and follows it with a sketch of everything from a flamingo to a swastika to the aforementioned beaver, in both senses of the word "beaver". Again, is this funny? Should I find it funny?
The funniest parts are his jokes about white people and the way in which they celebrate their "discovery" of America in 1492, despite the fact that others had actually been living on the continent for thousands of years. But even that is a little overdone these days, and haven't others done it better? It sure feels like it.
That being said, I enjoyed Cat's Cradle. Easily my favourite of his works.
He was sane enough. If you didn’t count the ‘dead’ moods, he was sane enough. In fact he was probably too sane, too normal.
Hangover Square is a darkly comical, rarely sober, atmospheric trip through the streets and pubs of prewar London.
Despite this book being on my radar for many years, it never made its way into my hands; probably because it was neither an exciting new release, nor a quite-famous-enough classic for me to make it a priority. But the release of this 75th Anniversary Edition made me finally give in to my curiosity. And I really enjoyed it.
The humour is needed to balance out the drunken melancholy and the cast of horrible, manipulative and selfish characters. There was something about this small group of lushes and their lifestyles that reminded me of The Day of the Locust. Both books hover on a precipice, a time of change and realization in their respective societies - a crumbling British Empire on the brink of war, and a Hollywood whose sparkling American Dream glitter fades in the harsh light of day.
In this book, we follow George Harvey Bone, his infatuation with the loathsome Netta, and his "dead" moments - times when his mind slips away from him and he becomes clear on only one thing: he must murder Netta.
George is a strange character, both pitiful and repugnant. His companions constantly mock him, openly insult him and take advantage of him, and we cringe as the reader because he allows them to. He lives in a state of misery, alleviated somewhat by booze and wandering through the foggy streets of Earl's Court. He's the very definition of a loser. And it soon becomes apparent that he is also mentally ill.
We are, in many ways, made to almost want George to get revenge and murder the awful people who use and abuse him. On the one hand, there's a certain delight to be had in these bullies coming to a messy end; on the other, George essentially stalks and harasses a woman who has made it clear she isn't interested, and then proceeds to try and murder her. There's a tempting feminist perspective essay right there.
The ending is predictably bleak. Hamilton's social and political concerns are manifest in the reality of George's arrival in Maidenhead. Throughout the book, Maidenhead represents a hope, an "after", a reward for accomplishing his goals. But, alas, was it all just a shiny dream?
2 1/2 stars. There are two main ways I could view Robinson Crusoe - firstly, as a reader who reads for enjoyment and entertainment, and secondly, as s2 1/2 stars. There are two main ways I could view Robinson Crusoe - firstly, as a reader who reads for enjoyment and entertainment, and secondly, as someone offering a more critical analysis of historical attitudes. To be honest, though, the book doesn't fare too well under either microscope.
As a novel for enjoyment, it's about the titular character being shipwrecked on an island many believe to be based on Tobago, near Trinidad. There's a whole lot of survival skills going on (but a modern reader will likely have read more compelling accounts of survival) and Crusoe finds himself facing native cannibals and captives. The style is distant and emotionless, only marginally more readable than Swift's Gulliver's Travels, but that is largely due to the more simplistic narrative.
The parts where Crusoe turns to his knowledge of European agriculture to survive are particularly tedious for any reader not interested in production theory, trade and economics.
Looking at this book through the eyes of history, it's something of an advocate for colonialism and European superiority. Crusoe arrives on this island and quickly attempts to adjust it to his own expectations of civilization, even to the point of wanting the prisoners as slaves. It should also be pointed out that Crusoe is shipwrecked during a voyage to acquire African slaves. He survives by using his European knowledge, adapting very little, killing off natives, and embracing Christianity.
Crusoe is the intelligent European and the natives, including his one friend - Friday, are savages. He becomes a "king" figure of this "colony" and the conclusion appears to be that he brings civilization to these backward peoples. Perhaps interesting as a view of European mentality in the 18th century, but frankly quite nauseating to sit through today.