Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Blindness


Blindness, José Saramago tr. Giovanni Pontiero

Bland but emotionally charged. Featureless but unforgettable. Brutal.

Strangely, but believably, more about shit than eyes.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Berlin Poplars


Berlin Poplars, Anne B. Ragde tr. James Anderson

I wonder if it is intentional that it starts out looking like a murder mystery.

It's not a murder mystery.

Try it.

The Good Earth


The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck

Alright, so first of all, it's really, really long. cf. Proust

Second of all, there's the language. Here's a quote.

Now it was a curious thing that she who had been so composed always and had lived content so far as Wang the Tiger knew or cared, now when she saw this new courtesy in the man seemed moved in some strange way.

This is a typical sentence. Do you see the weirdness? The weirdnesses? Is it not now a curious means that this language employs to move us as it does to some such place as it wishes to move us?

So first of all, it's really long.

Second of all, it's really, really poetic cf. Rohinton Mistry.

I mean so poetic I'm impressed because when I think of this author with such obvious command of one language writing for so long under the influence of another language and keeping this influence consistent and composed, I'm rather overwhelmed with how much concentration it must have taken.

So: do we read books because we want to be overwhelmed with the concentration they must have taken?

These are three stories of three men, a grandfather, a father and a son. Within the three stories are multiple smaller stories, many of other people.

I read this book because I liked the big stories and many of the little stories. And I liked feeling overwhelmed by the effortless command of the influence of one language over another language that when I stopped to think about it, must have taken an immense effort, but which when reading the stories, was effortless.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Terror


The Terror, Dan Simmons

Having trouble saying this: it's not very satisfying, but it's rilly, rilly good.

It's like there's a bunch of loose ends that don't get... Andy told me, just before he lent it to me, that he wished he could read it faster because he was just at the part where all the loose ends were being tied up and he couldn't wait to find out why everything happened.

I didn't find out why anything happened.

Here are my gripes: Who sailed The Terror to its final resting place? Why did C. never learn of H.’s fate? Did Lt. CdV and team make it? Why did the thing attack in the order it did? Under what conditions did the "two poisons" in the Goldner cans kill? Why were we told of the two American girls with double joints? And the quack doctor? Why was there emphasis on the food in Lt. JI.’s stomach and in the esquimaux’ stomachs, as well as insistence on the secrecy of these facts, when these facts were never used?

For every one of these questions, I was just dying with curiosity for up to 700 pages, and none of them have even the remotest hint of an answer on a silver platter.

And yet, there is nothing like this book and I am, like Stephen King, in awe of Dan Simmons. I do recommend.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

The Wind in the Willows


The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Graham

I thought this would be like Watership Down.

But in Watership Down... weren't the rabbits just rabbits? Like speaking rabbits, but anatomically rabbits?

Here... what are these things? They can row boats and drive motor cars. And if he puts on some rags, a male toad can be mistaken for a human woman.

And yet, they live in burrows. Although some in great houses. What size are they? How many fingers do they have? These things bothered me, because I would find my image of Toad, or Mole and things would go fine until suddenly they turned too human, and then too toady, and I'd have to stop and work on my mental image a bit. Irritating.

I didn't like it.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

The Handmaid's Tale


The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (x2)

Better than the first time, but not as good as Oryx and Crake.

Maddening. It doesn't "end." Nothing really happens.

But the writing is good. Kunderesque, I'd say, which is unfair to contemporaries. Kunderesque, just not tense.