23 Feb 2013

Tom Sawyer

Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain

Tom Sawyer or Harry Potter? This book's OK. I like the wry narrator, but I feel that his wit is wasted on the subject of children. Why children? He observes a good deal about adults, but does it bring something to do it through children's eyes? To ponder...

I can see from the confident language and colourful dialogue why this is a classic, but it has some structural weaknesses--chapters that just seem useless and independent of the story, events that lead nowhere--that don't make it very exciting. It's not great; it's curious.

12 Feb 2013

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, Umberto Eco, tr. Geoffrey Brock

Painful, though not boring because you're always waiting for that final resolution, and you don't realize that Umberto is taking you farther and farther away from it. So not boring, because you always believe he'll reveal the key to it all for you, even as the right-hand ream gets thinner and thinner, and as the larger and larger illustrations leave less and less room for the crucial text. And no- he does not reveal it. He reveals nothing but has just tricked you with his smirky face into plowing through catalogs and catalogs of gratuitous comic book narratives and war-time Italian pop lyrics, encouraging you with good but despairingly sparse stories, encouraging you to come to the end of nothing. Nothing at all, not even what we didn't think was worth caring about. Yet- though nothing- something. Something that returns to the beginning and ties something down; I'm just not sure what it is.

It's not painful; it's... Gently frustrating.