Book Review

Catch-up Book Reviews Part Two


Brief Interviews With Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace

When this is good, this is very, very good. When it’s pretentious, overblown, self-induldent, overly intellectualised, superior nonsense, it’s a bit of a drag. But when he does do something wonderful, one can ignore the “I’m a smug intellectual” coda that may as well be written instead of page numbers and revel in beautiful, witty, exploratory, experimental prose. I’ll be reading Infinite Jest shortly. So I haven’t been put off. 7/10

A Maggot by John Fowles

His last novel, not his best. Kind of a second run at the “historical novel”, but not really pulled off as well as The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Mixed form inside though, some great scenes and, of course, well written. A bit silly. But very disappointing given the calibre of the rest of his oeuvre. 6/10

The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

This is great, and prize winning. Oooh. Follows a bad ass priest (alcoholic with a kid) on the run in Mexico during a fascist purge of the clergy. Gripping. Exciting. And very serious. All about the nature of faith, the importance of responsibility and the resounding theme of who a priest is there to serve – god or his parish? Wonderful. (Not funny.) 8/10

Midsummer by David Greig

Another play. Fun, silly day out in Scotland. No lines assigned in the script, contemporarydramaooooo. Enjoyable. Though rather a bit “British rom-commy”. 7/10

Trans-Atlantyk by Witold Gombrowicz

I could see what this was trying to do. And it had a few good jokes in. It’s a Polish novella from the middle of the 20th-century, about being an ex-pat in Argentina when the shit hits the fan in Europe in 1939. Farcical, and silly, but written in an archaic style that (I found) added nothing, but grossly limited my understanding of the narrative. Brave, perhaps, but dry. A dry comedy. 5/10

Islands In The Stream by Ernest Hemingway

A posthumous work, about a lonely painter living in the Caribbean. Some beautiful bits, including an extended section that evolved into Old Man and the Sea. However, it’s longer and clearly less finely edited than Papa’s usual works, because he didn’t finish it. But it’s much better than The Garden of Eden, his other unfinished novel. 6/10

Ernest Hemingway: The Complete Letters Volume One 1907-1922

I’d never read any letters before, and I’m not certain I’ll rush to do so again. Fascinating insight, I suppose, and one can watch the evolution of a style, and enjoy the living-through of events he would later fictionalise. But… already by the end of this you can see the youthful optimist evolving into a rather hard-nosed, nasty man. Wrote great books, though, despite being a shit. (See later review of The Paris Wife) 6/10

Christie Malry’s Own Double Entry by B.S. Johnson

Very short. Very funny, very farcical. Not up there with Trawl, Albert Angelo or The Unfortunates. Enjoyable, but more frothy that I was expecting. 6/10

Dubliners by James Joyce

Beautiful. And so much crisper than his later, heavier work. I’m going to (finally) tackle Ulysses this Summer, only because of how much more I enjoyed this than I expected to. Found A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man a bit… can I say “pointless” or does that make me sound like a philistine? 8/10

The Subterraneans by Jack Kerouac

Heartbreaking, involving, swept up in a distant San Franciscan romance, beatniks, poets, divine. Almost enough to make me wish I enjoyed sex and inebriation. 8/10

Sartori In Paris by Jack Kerouac

About eighty pages of giant, double-spaced type. Kerouac in his forties still living like a teenager, this time IN FRANCE. Loses the magic, a bit, when you realise his youthful evocations of a disenfranchised generation were just the benzied-up ramblings of a pretentious waster. Only they weren’t, right? Were they? The early stuff was poetry, was honest, was beautiful, was life-affirming. This stuff is… it’s still fun, but it kind of damages the myth/self-respect of a fan. 4/10

The Walking Dead: Compendium One by Robert Kirkman

I’ve been dabbling with comic books this year (more reviews to follow), and this was a particularly good one. Unrelentingly brutal, yet not unhopeful, this is gory, exciting, post-apocalyptic zombie mayhem. I had a blast. 8/10

More soon…

3 comments on “Catch-up Book Reviews Part Two

  1. Pingback: Suicide Notes by Lewis Parker – The Triumph of the Now

  2. Pingback: Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story by D. T. Max – Triumph of the Now

  3. Pingback: Wormholes by John Fowles – Triumph Of The Now

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