The Birdcage Archives

Thursday 30 December 2010

Mahu or: The Material

(H)ello Gentle Reader

Pardon me for the large picture of the "H," I just wanted to try something new for this blog. Which may or may not be the second last blog of the 2010. I hope all my wonderful and Gentle Readers had themselves a magical and Merry Christmas. Hopefully Santa had been good to everyone. Unless of course you were naughty. Alright so it had been a while since I had read, a book and reviewed a book I think. Well here is the first review of a book since the book review hiatus. Well the chosen novel is: "Mahu or The Material," by Robert Pinget.

First things are first though. A quick background story or sketch before the review. It should be noted first and foremost that "Mahu or: The Material," is a difficult book or novel to review, because of the surreal nature and absurd(ity) of the world that Robert Pinget had created, for this novel.

Robert Pinget was a writer and author (imagine that) who was born in 1919 and died in 1997. Robert Pinget was often classified or labeled as a writer under the literary movement called "Nouveau Roman," or "New Novel," which much like the Modernist predecessors spoke of taking the novel -- literature in general; to different heights and extremes and places that they had never been to before. This explains why Robert Pinget's work often grew comparison to Samuel Beckett and his work.

How does one try to explain what "Mahu or: The Material," is about? According to the back of the book "Mahu or The Material," is described (word for word) as the following:

""Robert Pinget's Mahu or The Material tells the story of Mahu, who, unlike his ambitious, successful brothers, is a lazy man who approaches the world around him with a defiant spirit and a witty outlook on life. Part of the reason for Mahu's laziness is that he may be nothing more than a character in a failing novel by his friend Latirail, a novel that is being overrun by characters invented by yet a different author" The second half of this book consists of Mahu's strange and hilarious musings on everything from belly dancers to how he catches ideas from other people in the same way he catches germs."

This describes the book to a "T," for sure -- word for word, what the book is about. However it is about a man named Mahu, who may or may not be a character in a novel that a friend of his is writing. However, this does not do the way the book is written any justice. Mahu is a lazy man. His life is absurd and odd, all at the same time. Nothing makes sense, and nothing is as it first appears or what is first heard. The novel is very absurd. The first part; which properly titled "The Novelist," is about the novel that Mahu's friend is writing. This part appears strange and bizzare, characters are often introduced and then disappear and sometimes they come back and sometimes they do not come back. There is the Louse and the Policeman, who were drinking in a bar and got emotional and were kicked out of the bar, among other events. There was also the odd art model who stayed with Mahu in the warehouse and often claimed that he loved Mahu, and was yet never seen again throughout the novel. Mahu apparently has 14 siblings (including him I think) who we never meet. It’s hard to even say if "Mahu: Or the Material," has/had any plot whatsoever. The first part of the book is absurd short story snap shots of the absurdity of people and life. However Pinget's dry and often sardonic humour can be seen.

The second part of the book titled "Part Two: Mahu Speaks," made a bit more sense to me in many ways. That is more sense the first part. In the second part of the book Mahu tells us all about his thoughts and ideas about life et cetera. However Part one of the book and Part two do not evenly match with each other and are disjointed, greatly.

Before I finish up this quick review -- if one could call this review; how can I write a review about something that barely can be summarized or detailed(ly) looked at? I would like to add two passages from the book -- both from Part Two: Mahu Speaks, which both brought me great enjoyment.

"The People in these bistro's on Sunday evenings look very miserable, unless they make an effort not, they're on the look out for the slightest thing to make them laugh, someone with double sight would be horrified to see what icebergs we are hidden in our clothes, trying to warm ourselves up grinning beneath the neon lights."

-- The Poet and the Pineapple (all chapters are named as such -- by that I mean are given odd titles)

"No need to lie anymore, I lied a great deal at the beginning of this book in order to get to this point, to arrive at the truth, which proves that truth emerges from an in extricable confusion, I wanted to like that, I don't deny anything not even a difference in speech."

-- The Key

both of these passages show Robert Pinget's use of dialogue and word play, as well as his use of absurd statements that often make no sense but yet they appear profound and stick with you. The first one from the chapter "The Poet and The Pineapple," left a mark on me for sure. For some odd reason or another it just felt right, in some odd way or another. I did enjoy it for sure. Can't say why I enjoyed it but I did.

"Mahu or: The Material," has been an enjoying and yet difficult book to read. It’s difficult to say if it brought any pleasure or enjoyment, to be honest. It is a good book to say the least, but one cannot say that it is what would typically called a "Beach Read," or something someone would read for the sheer enjoyment and pleasure of reading it. No not at all. "Mahu or The Material," by Robert Pinget, is a slim book. Almost one hundred and fity pages long, but it still packed a punch for sure. Each chapter was a brief little sketch to say the least of some form of incident or another, and even though they were small, they also packed in some profound comment or another. However the characters appear to run around freely -- if such a thing is possible, and there is little characterization, and no definite linear plot. But the book is interesting on its own. Certainly a great glimpse in to the world of the French Literary Movement called "Noveau Roman." One thing that I can say for certain is that Robert Pinget, is a master of dialogue. His use of dialogue and the way the characters speak is often noted, to helping the book progress, as well as showing a lot of the absurdity of the world that Robert Pinget had created. In fact the characters kind of spoke more in a way that appeared to resemble reality and everyday conversations made some sense in some form or another.

Well Gentle Reader "Mahu: Or The Material," was a nice read, and I am glad to have been able to review it before the New Year is here. It has been a stupendous read, and a lovely taste of the modernist inspired writers -- much like Tom McCarthy. May Robert Pinget rest in peace if I do say so myself.

By the way the letter at the top of this blog (The letter H,") is brought to you from this website link that follows -- yet why does one put links up right? Not like anyone follows them, but at the same time it is a sign and a symbol of respect for the hosting website.

Thank-You For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Reader

M. Mary

Thursday 16 December 2010

Recollections and Reminiscences of 2010

Hello Gentle Reader

Even though that 2010 is far away from ending, and that I have already written a blog this week, I have decided to write next weeks blog, early. Partly because I have guests coming out next week, and I need to give my full attention to them -- even if that means I stare at them blankly, with giving the occasional nod time to time. Anyhow so more or less, this blog is about the recollections and reminiscences of 2010.

2010 was/is much like 2000 -- without the "Y2K," scare that was happening. Not that I can really comment on that, I was/still am so absorbed in my own world that this entire scare meant nothing to me. However for some people it did mean something. It meant something badly, and the world -- or parts of the world, or rather people -- that is some people; went absolutely hysterical about the entire situation. But that's just people acting on one of their prime emotions and basic instinct -- Fear. Now as we finish with the first year of a new decade, we find ourselves into a new phenomenon and chaotic scare. This new scare is the 2012 phenomenon, which is still very popular to this day because conspiracy shows, Pseudoscience and those fools that back that up as science, new age mysticism, and street preachers all claim that the end times is near. Not like that is a first, and here is the funny part. The human race is stupid enough -- for the umpteenth time; to believe in it.

Lets look back at some recent religious and other wise false predictions, that have come and past, without anything happening:

In 1995 Benny Hinn predictided that "God would destroy America's Homosexual community."

David Berg (or Moses David) Founder of the cult movement "Children of God," now known as "Family International," predicted that in 1993 that Jesus Christ would return.

In June (21st) of 1985 Benjamin Creme (another whack job) had said that Jesus Christ or as he called him the "Maitreya," will announce his presence on World Wide Television

(Thank-you wikipedia for that information a link for the cited page can be followed at the end of this blog)

There have been many predictions and theories about when or how the world will end. It is a sick fascination with the world if you ask me, and with the human race. It appears to me that the human race is doomed to always feed into their instinct of Fear, and pessimistic thoughts about things that can never change. Such as death, or their mortality. Therefore the people of the world -- or the human race, are then forced to predict, or try to see the world as ending, because if the world ends, then they have a certain sense of relief. There is no guessing when it is going to end, they just know or believe or have faith that the world will end, because they would rather hope it ends, then truly live their live. It appears to me that the human race is more interested in focusing on the negative and the possibilities of their bending and ultimate ending, rather then enjoying the prospect of living.

But enough about such depressing and nonsensical topics. the year 2010 has been an interesting decade for me. From working in the municipal elections, to do simple general labour job during a night shift. I had had many attempts at writing novels, which has helped further me in my writing process, as well as reading some very interesting intellectual and great novels. From Jose Saramago's "Blindness," to Tom McCarthy's "C," to "Cloud Atlas," and "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet," by David Mitchell to the stylish yet readable novel "The Blind Assassin," by Margaret Atwood. The year 2010 has been a fascinating year of reads for me. I have read books by Nobel prize winners in Literature (Herta Mueller, Jose Saramago.) To up and coming and well establish postmodernist authors (David Mitchell, Margaret Atwood) to my first short story collection (Thomas Ligotti) to other great authors, and their books. Each one has showed me a different side of the world of Literature. Each one continues to make me think time to time, and each one always makes me wonder, when well I go back and re-read that book again?

A new decade is to start. The 2000's Nobel Laureates of Literature, are now complete and the new Nobel Laureates will start next at a dawn and beginning of a new decade of Nobel Prize Winners in Literature.

This Decades Nobel Mind in Literature are as follows:

2000 - Gao Xingjian
2001 - V.S. Naipaul
2002 - Imre Kertesz
2003 - J.M Coetzee
2004 - Elfriede Jelinek
2005 - Harold Pinter
2006 - Orhan Pamuk
2007 - Doris Lessing
2008 - J.M.G le Clezio (Jean-Marie Gustave le Clezio)
2009 - Herta Mueller
2010 - Mario Vargas Llosa

But even these ten Nobel Laureates (3 of which are female, and 7 are male) all were met with some very interesting criticisms of winning the prize, and sometimes, some interesting events surrounding them.

Gao Xingjian winning the Nobel Prize was not favourable at all. The government and the media's attitude toward Gao Xingjian is that of giving him the cold shoulder, and refusal to recognize him or his work as "World Class."

V.S. Naipauls winning (from the looks of it) was generally favourable, and did not come into much criticism.

Imre Kertesz after winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, work became more well known, and well received. Before winning the Nobel Prize in Literature the Laureate was not well known.

In 2003 J.M. Coetzee one of only two authors who have won the Booker Prize twice, comes to no surprise. Many people and critics (critics are their own kind of race) have long since cited J.M. Coetzee as a Nobel Prize winner as a contender. Does it come to much shock not really?

Then Comes 2004, where the Austrian Writer Elfride Jelinek, had caused quite a stir, within the Swedish Academy. Knut Ahnlund had these comments to say on Elfried Jelinek's Work:

"whining, unenjoyable public pornography."
"a mass of text shovelled together without artistic structure."
"has not only done irreparable damage to all progressive forces, it
has also confused the general view of literature as an art."

Elfride Jelinek was also highly criticized, for not accepting the prize personally -- which is quite surprising, considering that her works are infamous for being sexually graphic (sexual sado-masochistic power games) and very violent; and yet Elfride Jelinek herself, admits to suffering from social phobia and agoraphobia, and is the reason why she did not accept the prize personally. Many applauded Elfride Jelinek's courage for revealing her social conditions.

Yet the Nobel Prize in Literature of 2004 surely was quite a controversial and critical event in Elfride Jelinek's already controversial life in her country Austria.

Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize in Literature Lecture titled "Art, Truth and Politics," was met with much controversy and is widely debated to this day (I believe you can find it on youtube) Harold Pinter was often branded as being "Anti-American," in his Lecture, but I suppose when you are at his age, and have such a life behind you, you don't really give a damn what people call you.

In 2006 Turkey won its first Nobel Prize In Literature going to the author Orhan Pamuk. Many criticise the prize given to Orhan Pamuk as being very political and in some cases a Political statement.

Doris Lessing won the Nobel Prize in Literature of 2007. Many were quite impressed with Doris Lessing winning the prize, and even Ms. Lessing commented that winning the prize was a "royal flush." However Harold Bloom (a US Literay Critic) had something else to say:

"although Ms Lessing at the beginning of her writing career had a few admirable qualities, I find her work for the past 15 years quite unreadable ... fourth-rate science fiction."

Doris Lessing as far as I know is still alive at the current age of 91

The Nobel Prize in Literature of 2008 was characterized by the catch phrase "JMG Who?" (or something like that) J.M.G Le Clezio was not a well known author in North America before winning the prize -- and I still think its hard to find him in stores to this day. JMG Le Clezio was the first French Writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature since Claude Simon in 1985, who is an author of a book I recently ordered.

"Herta who?" you say? Well I say Herta Muller! The Nobel Prize winner of Literature of 2009, whose work is finally brought to the world stage, and has showed the world the cruelties and inhumane life under communism and dictatorships as being what they are, and keeps the memory alive, so we may never forget the atrocities of certain people in this world . . . Stalin.

Finally the end of the decade of the Nobel Prize in Literature has come. Mario Vargas Llosa, the first Peruvian author to win the Prize, and is a step back away from continental European Literature, that had dominated the platform for most of the decade. Mario Vargas Llossa can often be compared to a previous winner of Latin American Literature/South American Literature of 1982 Gabriel Garcia Marquez -- the two actually used to be friends, but there is an icy cold silence between the two. Many have claimed that Mario's win of the Nobel Prize has breathed new life into the Prize. A good way to end another decade of Nobel Prizes in Literature I think.

Well Gentle Reader, 2010 has been fun. It has been wild, chaotic, stupid, boring, and all around general life like stuff. But as one Decade ends another begins. And So I look forward to seeing, more Nobel Prize winners in Literature, and to keep reading, and writing and hopefully someday become a writer myself, with published books -- I know I know, don't hold my breath I might die. But it has been a great year and this is our 70th blog, and the final blog of 2010. I look forward to the New Year, and I the books I will read and review and share with you.

Thank-You For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read


Thursday 9 December 2010


Hello Gentle Reader

Lately all I have done via this blog is review books. Since finishing "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet," I found that there are still books that I own and should read. So the other night or rather last night I cracked open "The Savage Detectives," by Roberto Bolano -- he died in 2003 at the age of fifty (50). It should be noted that Roberto Bolano thought of himself primarily as a poet not a novelist. "The Savage Detectives," however is a novel. So any how I got to page forty-six, and I just shut the book. I thought to myself. Why, why am I reading this? It fails to capture me somehow. I can't explain why but it just fails to capture me. Not saying that at page forty-six is the correct amount of pages to judge a book, but this was my second try and it felt tedious or failed to keep me interested in what happened. So I close the book for the second -- and perhaps last time. Maybe I'll give it to a friend of mine along with all those old mass market paperback "Dragonlance," books that I never really liked.

But anyhow, since I don't feel like reading any of the books I have at the moment, I decided that I'll just blog with a couple of my own thoughts and ideas. I know for starters I'll probably go back and re-read a few novels a few of them being: "The Waves," by Virginia Woolf as well as "To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf," as well as "The Gormenghast Series," by Mervyn Peake. I feel like I didn't do those books any justice when I read them the first time around, and now it is time for me to re-read those books in the future and review them and hopefully do some justice.

Anyhow today's blog comes from something funny I saw on a website called:


and I thought to myself when I saw the picture (here it is following):

That is was just funny. I mean in English Class -- when I went to school; we had to learn poetry. I have little respect for poetry or rather appreciation for poetry, may I add so humbly. There is something about that is just, beautiful yet enigmatic and or obscure. Poetry also usually follows strict rules and form. Sonnets, Haiku's, Ode et cetera. So I have little patient for poetry. I have little, very little patient for poetry, if it cannot reveal its meaning to me, with some clues, other than oblique rhymes then I have no point in giving a two damns about it. This leaves poetry open for interpretation. However in English Class the student interpretation, is useless, compared to the teacher. Let’s face it, the teacher went to "X," amount of years of school in university studying literature and poetry and all that fun stuff, so what on earth would some ignorant student know right? So in hind-sight the only true interpretation in a English Class -- be it High School or Junior High School, is that of the teachers. The students are to squawk back the meaning like trained parrots.

But this is something I found interesting in a recent interview I read by the Nobel Laureate of 1985 in Literature Claude Simon. For the duration of this blog I'll use his words as well as a fictitious example to prove my point on how literature can be interpreted by anyone in any form. Because we all have different eyes, and different thinking patters, and that is what makes the interpretation of any work of literature amazing and beautiful.

in The Paris Review, The Art of Fiction No. 128 - Claude Simon Interview (link following)

In the interview the Interviewer (Alexandra Eyle) asked Claude the following:



"Symbolism seems important in your writing. In The Grass, for example, a T-shaped shadow grows and shrinks as it passes across the room in which Marie lies dying, representing the passage of time and the inevitability of death. How do you decide on such images?"


"I am not a symbolist. I saw the light drawing a T that moved slowly across the floor and the furniture of a room. The T suggested to me the word temps and the march of time. It seemed like a good image."


Trains appear often in your novels—what do they symbolize?


Nothing but trains.


So in an English class the English Teacher assigns "The Trolley," by Claude Simon. (this is a book that I have on a list of books right now by authors that I want to read) and she asks the students: "What does the train/trolley symbolize?" (now we all know that Claude Simone had said quite frankly that the trains symbolize exactly what they are. They are trains.) One student says the train/trolley in the novel by Claude Simone symbolizes the cycle of life and death. Birth, Childhood, Adulthood, Old Age, and Death. Another student says that the train simply symbolizes the beginning and ending of a journey. Another student, says that the trains can't possibly symbolize anything, other then trains. Needles to say the student that spoke Claude Simon's words, failed.

But what can a student know? Did they go to University for "X," amount of so many years, and study Literature and Literary Theory and all that? No, so how could an ignorant uneducated mind, possibly know what Claude Simon himself -- One of the twentieth century’s greatest writers (among many others); know? Nothing as far as the teacher is considered.

It appears that English Classes are not asking their students what something symbolizes or is interpreting it, but rather what the teacher says. English class is not opening the students minds to think for themselves, but rather hindering the growth of the mind of the students to see the world of Literature in an entirely new way. It is sad, and it is true, but we must always face the fact that this is what we call "English Class," unless you are special.

Take Care Gentle Reader
Thank-you So Much For Reading This Blog Gentle Reader
And As Always
Stay Well Read


Friday 3 December 2010

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Hello Gentle Reader

One at times looses a sense of time. Just today for instant, I thought it was Thursday and later learned it was Friday, and now as I write this blog a day late, I look at the time (for it is 11:45pm) I am going to soon be late another day. Sad really. For that my sincerest apologies for being late. But I suppose this time of year gets the better of us all. Running around, trying to finish Christmas shopping. Hanging Christmas lights for the sheer enjoyment of lighting up those dark, early dusks and nights that befall people on winter; and of course the general good will and cheer that people feel for each other. Yet precautions should always be taken no matter what. Especially this holiday season -- among all holiday seasons. There is something about Christmas, that people, just feel the need to drink and drive. Not the greatest idea on the slippery roads. If people of this world had any common sense -- which the general population doesn't I can see that; they would not drink and drive.

But enough about that. Even though this type of season gets us all busy and running around -- will this pink sweater please my daughter? Will this shirt make my son smile? Will my husband love this new watch? Will my wife adore these diamond earrings? And all that other selfless thinking of getting gifts for others, I was able to maintain a reading schedule. I was able to finish David Mitchell's Booker Prize 2010 long listed, novel "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet."

Once again the amazing ventriloquist author David Mitchell (each time I put that name down I keep almost changing it to 'Jacob de Zoet,') gives his talents, of creating unique voices to his characters. His imaganation makes the historical novel, a interesting read, and his research for this novel, gives the entire land of Japan a well thought out image, but also leaves the magical land in some form of obscurity, letting the unknowing of our main character "Jacob de Zoet," and this mysterious land of Japan be felt all the way through.

With this novel David Mitchell takes us away from the stylistic showmanship of his well-known novel "Cloud Atlas," and takes "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet," into a different route. The novel is written in the third-person perspective. The novel would appear rather straightforward, and linear and easy to understand compared to "Cloud Atlas," there is no jumping of time and space -- no nothing of that sort. But "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet," captures the periods feelings, and politics, and the desire of the period -- and often its ever so familiar idea's and themes that can be seen in today’s world -- so perfectly.

Of course sometimes the conversations appear a bit to formal or out of place in today’s society, but at the same time there is a certain understanding that this is probably the way that some of those people talked. But speech is one of David Mitchell's strong points. Sometimes to a fault though. The Japanese accent when the Japanese interpreters talk in Dutch -- as they almost sound like children because they forget certain words, but there is enough there to understand just what they are saying. There is of course, then the sometimes crash and rude talk of the less educated or well-off people, who speak in very vulgar terms, and ways. Or what would probably vulgar at the time. Yet even though their grotesque language there is a certain honourable trait about them, that one soon learns to admire in later points of the novel. Well others, truly are cowards that we have all encountered in our day to day lives.

That is something that David Mitchell, much like Charles Dickens is able to do. He is able to create certain situations -- no matter how absurd in today’s world (if such a thing exists!); and makes it relatable through characters or common universal experiences that one can have a form of sympathy with the characters. Betrayal and political jingoism are two of the keys that allowed me personally to relate to some of the characters.

There is one thing that I will point in this novel -- as it feels in David Mitchell's last novel "Cloud Atlas," is the characters on some level or another are connected to each other. Each one is bridged to the others, through a common interest or love. Look at the character Doctor Marinus. He is connected to his students -- One of which is Orito Aibagawa; is connected his students via his love learning, teaching, knowledge, medical practice, and his love of botany.

Of course one would argue that we all argue on some level or another, that the novel would not be able to progress without some form of character like connections even on a minor degree. Perhaps, and perhaps not. I wont argue how a novel should progress or how a novel should not progress.

"The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet," even though set in the past, has many reminiscent(s) of the present. The cheating, that two people do to each other. Each time one tries to cheat the other in some deal or another. The amount of what makes a human better then another human. Look at the treatment of what people in this novel call "Slaves," what makes them less human then those that consider them less human? This is a question that to this day is being asked. Cruelty to each other is a universal theme, and the idea of "slavery," is something that David Mitchell seems to use to ask the question: what makes one person better then another?

As someone else pointed out to me however, with the characters there are good characters and bad characters. The protagonists and the antagonists. Yet in some way or another David Mitchell makes the good from the bad quite clear. Jacob de Zoet, Doctor Marnius, and Orito Aibagawa all have certain aspects in common. They are all have this "moral superiority," that others do not have. They have this humbling air about them. They all search for knowledge -- two are in the medical field one is a book keeper exposing lies and truths. They all have a sense of right and wrong. Then there are the antagonists. Enomoto, Fischer, John Penhaligon. Though I must say quickly John Penhaligon is not really a bad man he just see the worst of him for the most part. These characters are all selfish. They would kill, betray and throw their own mother and grandmother underneath a train to move ahead in the world. They all have a certain aspect that speaks of themselves to look out for themselves, and move themselves faster and higher in their own world.

So the idea of antagonist and protagonist is quite clearly seen. There is good and there is bad. there is no real neutral in this idea and form. You are either good or you are either bad, in some ways.

There are a few other problems that I had also noticed.

The Novels ending though quite good, was upsetting in some ways. It felt exhausted and tired out. Surely I can understand however that David Mitchell after four years of doing research and writing this novel would have gotten tired of this novel. It must have been very stressful upon him, and I am a sympathetic person and I understand, but still the ending appeared toe end in a fashion that felt neat and tidy. Even though it did betray my first thoughts on how it would end. On how everyone lived happily ever after. However it still did not satisfy me. I wanted to know more about Orito Aibagawa's time in her imprisonment in the shrine. I wanted to know about how Dejima in the in-between time after the attack on it, and before the ending. There was so much that I wanted to know, and yet if I got my way the novel would blow up to a huge unreadable melodramatic extreme. So I can say that in some way or another I am happy that the novel ended -- to a degree(!); the way it did.

I can see why this novel was not placed as one of the shortlisted books for the "Booker Prize." Even though it was a great novel, I can see why it was not placed there. However David Mitchell's talent can still be seen. His novels (for I have only read two) are not of the same calibre, and are certainly different from each other, which will hopefully never make David Mitchell a boring author to read.

Take Care Gentle Reader
Thank-you for Reading Gentle Reader
And As Always
Stay Well Read


Saturday 20 November 2010

The Land of The Green Plums

Hello Gentle Reader

History is full of dictatorships. People mad with power. The ever corrosive touch that power has on the mind of people. How the very sensation of power, slowly twists, turns, warps and eventually consumes the mind of the person. History is full of these people. People who inspire, and yet slowly become deranged, and unstable.

History is full of these people. There are the common names:

Adolf Hitler
Josef Stalin
Benito Mussolini
Fidel Castro
Jorge Rafael Videla
Pol Pot
Muhammed Omar
Yahya Khan
Mao Zedong
Mahathir bin Mohamad
Kim Jong-il
Sonthi Boonyaratglin
Victoriano Huerta
Alexander Lukashenko

History is full of dictators, and will always be full of dictators. For when people -- be it a man or a woman, have a taste of power, the desire, and false "need," for power becomes all that the person can think about. "The Land of the Green Plums," a novel -- perhaps the most well known novel; of Herta Muller (Nobel Laureate in Literature of 2009). The novel however does not concern itself with any of the above dictators. It concerns itself with one dictator not listed, but has done his own evil, and has certainly left his own special brand on Herta Muller's mind, and certainly her life. This man who had such power? Who corroded his country with his acidic touch? Who is this man who grew up a peasant? Who later, later stirred the political pot with his communist preaching, and activities? Who is the man who forever destroyed so many lives? His name -- for such a disaster of a creature does have a name -- was Nicolae Ceauşescu.

Written in Herta Muller's signature style, of quick short sentences, that explode with expressions, and symbolism, the novel certainly is something of its own calibre. There are however many points to be made her, and warnings to be said. Herta Muller's characters, are now well drawn or characterized. That does not mean that the roughly 250 page (hardcover) book, is not worth the read, or even tedious. Herta Muller is more or less a poet, writing in the novelist form, to put it in some form of understandable terms. Does this mean that this novel is going to please everyone. As is very common in today’s world, that is impossible. Will people who enjoy poetry enjoy the style? The metaphorical language? The densely packed prose? The scalpel almost laser like precision in which Herta Muller, pieces together her words, and sentences, making the entire story hand selected, personal. Maybe and maybe not. Will novelists, enjoy the books length? The playfulness of form, and the story telling technique taken to a new extreme, or maybe a new minimalist extreme? It would be wrong for anyone to judge or assume that either one would full heartedly enjoy the book. However certainly their will be individuals on both sides that will enjoy the novel.

At times, Herta Muller's sentences, almost feel like they are each floating in their own world, and each world is separated by some mist or fog blurring the connections between sentences. However this comes off to be strong at times. In a country where fear is everywhere. Where the dictator (Nicolae Ceauşescu is barely named in this novel) is seen as an omnipotent being. All watching. All knowing. All around. In every chink, every home, every building. He see's all and makes notes on it. One can only suspect that sometimes, the people would barely make sense living under this oppressive, and often absurd, moments.

Where your interrogator is named "Pjele," who has a mean dog named "Pjele," -- though to separate confusing the owner of the dog "Pjele," is called Captain "Pjele." Yet a pivotal moment of fear, and the atmosphere got dark and surely we were going to find out how the dictatorship infiltrated the lives, the minds, and oppression of the people that it had housed underneath its large roof. Yet the absurdity of "Pjele," and "Pjele," sharing the same name offers a sense of quick sigh of relief, before things start to get worst and worst. The friends, (the narrator) Edgar, Kurt, Georg are frequently interrogated, and are good friends. This is when the reader learns, the secret code, that the characters, follow through and start using, to explain if they have been followed, interrogated, among other serious events that may happen as each one lives individual lives. They make sure that they know their letters are tampered with by the cunning use of hairs.

Then a new member comes into the group. A woman by the name of Tereza. This new character, is a woman. She appears odd, to the reader (or at least to me) she's bubbly, and awkward. She doesn't seem genuine (if that could be said) she more or less acts on the orders of Captain Pjele.

The novel however goes further downhill. One learns about the evil of the dictatorship, and how it either brakes you or makes you confirm to it. Surely this explains Herta Mullers, strong urge not to confirm into the dictator, and explains why her strong will has kept her alive and survived the dictatorship. However as the story progresses, we learn that others are not so fortunate. Fired from their jobs, harassed, interrogated, and surely on the brink of giving in, and letting themselves to be taken into the collectivism of the communist regime. Eventually some escape, and some are not so fortunate, and escape in other means necessary.

Herta Muller's novel, relies heavily on atmosphere, and disquieting symbolism, allegories, and the realization that the dictatorship often made no sense, as sometimes this novel did. Laughing, crying, scratching your head. Trying to pick out the metaphors from the facts that lay beneath. This novel is a puzzle, and also enjoyable. However it certainly is not for everyone.

Take Care Gentle Reader
Thank-You For Reading Gentle Reader
And As Always Stay Well Read


Wednesday 10 November 2010

Magical Realism . . .? What is it?

Hello Gentle Reader

Before we begin the intended post of the day, I would like to run down some quick random thoughts. Tomorrow in Canada is "Remembrance Day," that is why this blog of the week is going to be a day earlier. I am not entirely sure if this holiday and day of remembrance is a "universal," day where people all over Europe, and America have a moment of silence and honour the people who fought in wars past and present for their rights and freedoms, and so on. Tomorrow if you are a person that respects these people who fought and fight for you, hold a moment of silence on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.


(Now for the Feature Presentation}

Magical Realism as defined by is:

"a style of painting and literature in which fantastic or imaginary and often unsettling images or events are depicted in a sharply detailed, realistic manner."

As a common reader or a reader who just reads fantasy and other speculative fiction genre's how is it that "Magical Realism," is considered a form of "Literary Fiction," and yet novels considered "Fantasy," are see as mindless trash that only people who live in their parents basement and have never had a girl friend, would read. Which makes me wonder what is the difference? Apparently Jose Saramago had written in the concept of Jose Saramago. Perhaps his novel "Blindness," is best described as to this effect -- and it is the only novel in which I have read by the late author. I have read novels that are considered fantastic or are considered in the genre of fantasy as well -- and bearing in mind, I did not always find them enjoyable. I can see a difference for sure.

In Magical Realism -- at least from my point of view -- the fantastic or surreal events, are more metaphorical, in order to explore a theme rather than using it as a plot device. Magical Realism is also from my understanding a bit more, random.

In fantasy there are rules, and laws to these surreal events. In magical realism there is no rules, no laws. When the "White Blindness," spread throughout the unnamed country of Jose Saramago's novel "Blindness," the disease is not explained. Why is it white rather than the typical black? Why is it contagious? why is it all of these things? Yet these questions are not answered. They are random occurrences. While in fantasy in order to use magic, for example . . . the "Harry Potter," series, a magic spell must be uttered, or a wand must be used. Of course I will note that I have not read the "Harry Potter," series, and I am open to the idea that I may be wrong on this . . .

But it appears that fantasy and magical realism share some common traits, but are also very different. Magical Realism is very metaphorical and more, sophisticated then general fantasy it appears. Magical Realism, is the magic of this world, rather then the magic of another imagined world. It is metaphorical, and is dissecting the human condition, and toying with philosophical thoughts. Fantasy is not metaphorical (or is not generally seen as metaphorical) and usually (or not generally seen as being philosophical) not very philosophical. Fantasy is seen more to entertain, and just be a light read in which the reader, reads the novel, and then once the novel is finished the reader is left with nothing gained or lost. It should also be noted that Magical Realism can be also entertaining, but its metaphorical use of the fantastical and surreal are more or less, first and foremost, in exploiting themes, rather then truly entertaining the reader.

Magical Realism, maybe has derived from the Fantasy genre, and maybe even considered a sub-genre of fantasy. But one thing is noted for sure. Authors like Italo Calvino, Mario Vargas Llosa (Nobel Winner of 2010) Gabriel Garcia Márquez, Jose Saramago, Salmin Rushdie, Angela Carter, and others have all been noted as magical realist, and are highly praised by the literary establishment and critics. Fantasy authors (in general) are not really praised as much as their cousin or relative of some kind. In fact Fantasy is seen as nothing but trash, along with science fiction, romance, horror, and other genre related, novels. Yet, there are always exceptions and Magical Realism in some way or another is an exception, just like J.R.R Tolkein is considered a exception of Fantasy, as is Margaret Atwood for science fiction, as is many other authors, for many different genre fiction, that can be held up against the contemporary classics of the modern day.

What is Magical Realism? I couldn't tell you. Why is Magical Realism praised by critics, and despised by fantasy writers? I speculate that the writers of magical realism have achieved something that some fantasy writers, want to achieve but are not able to achieve because of the genre that they write in, and in the fact that the literary establishment looks down on them. Perhaps Magical Realism is the bastard child of Literary Fiction, and Fantasy. Either way my first taste of it, was satisfying, and has kept me intrigued.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care my Dear Gentle Reader
And As Always
Stay Well Read


Saturday 6 November 2010


Hello Gentle Reader

Ever been in a dark room. Where you have lifted your hand up towards your face, and moved it about. Thinking you could see the ripples or vibrations of the movements of the hand cutting through the darkness that engulfs and surrounds you? As we all know this is typical of blindness. The total lack of light and colour. Its almost as if your eyes had been covered by some shadowy invisible, blindfold that you cannot remove. Yet what if the blindness was like a milky sea of white? Like a fog that cannot be penetrated? Does that cause some solace, in an other wise feeling of hopeless despair? That the person is no longer, left in a dark shadowy void or abyss, but rather is stranded on some island in the middle of a milky white overcast, sea? Are both the same? Do both cause the same hopeless despair and anxiety that, a person can no longer rely on their usual sense of sight to guide them around the world, however large or small? Or would it be worst to be the only person able to see in a city or a country or even a world, over come with blindness?

The characters, in Jose Saramago's (Nobel Laureate in Literature of 1998) novel "Blindness," are universal. They have no names. They are just simply described by the "narrator," by their superficial traits -- the doctors wife, the girl with dark glasses, the boy with the squint -- they have no other identity then that. They are nameless and faceless. Though they all share one thing in common, they are Blind.

As the story goes an entire unnamed and unspecified country is suddenly struck by Blindness. But not the kind of Blindness, that is like having a sole, candle burning in a pitch dark room, and the candle is suddenly burnt out. No this Blindness, is different in the sense that the people, are thrown in a world of everlasting, and never-ending White(ness) where all they can see is nothing but white.

It becomes apparent to the government of this unnamed country that this "white blindness," is contagious and soon an epidemic, and the government of this country makes containing this disease its responsibility and priority. Gathering everyone up that is blind, and those suspected of being infected but yet to go blind, they stick these poor unfortunate people into a uninhabited and abandoned Mental Asylum. There these poor people, are isolated, and alienated from the outside world. Kept under lock and key, and threatened with death, these people, have to learn to cope with their new situations, and are left only to realize that they will most likely never be cured, and will live out the rest of their years, in such a disgusting and old, place.

As more people start coming in, the wards become fuller and fuller, the asylum sure only on the brink of exploding by the overpopulation. People who once thought themselves, as something higher then "animals," find themselves, acting in savage manners, just like animals. The floors become beds, and lavatories. The ever present ravenous gnawing of hunger reminding the inmates that they are still alive, they are left only with one thought -- when shall we die?

Then things suddenly go from bad to worst (if such a possibility is possible). New inmates arrive, but they suddenly turn a situation that is already hopeless, and despairing into something that is borderline hell. These new inmates take all the food rations, and greedily hoard them to themselves. They demand all inmates valuable possessions, for payment for food. Then once all the possessions are gathered up, the next step is to gather all the woman to satisfy their primate urge for sexual gratification. How is it that these tyrannical inmates enforce their sadistic rule? With weapons, from simply, sticks, to poles -- to the smuggled in gun. The threat of violence and death is something that all the inmates understand perfectly. Under these threats, and the desire to live -- even if they are blind -- they do as they are told.

However with civilization stripped away and therefore the very rules of society and civilization stripped away, and the sudden realization that its survival of the fittest, and soon there is very little "humanity," left in people. Soon the animal in all us -- the true 'self,' in many ways takes hold.

and sometimes vengeance is one of those things that takes hold on people. No saint is really without, the human desire for payback and vengeance, and since one person can see, and was humiliated by the Tyrant and his little gang, she acted on those feelings and caused vengeance. Survival of the fittest one could say sometimes means taking out the fittest one.

However, even a Saint sometimes allows the stray sheep to die, for the better of their own flock. When finding food, would a person share it with everyone? Or would that person, take all that they can carry, and share it amongst those that are in its group? People appear to be like dogs, in many ways. Once the collective body of a government and society/civilization, falls they form into packs. Rabid, selfish packs which only worry about their own survival and could careless if another group suddenly without warning dies.

In many ways Jose Saramago's novel "Blindness," has stripped away mankind’s false premise that people are "civilized," and nothing can change that. This supposed "civilized," nature that people have, is only a mask. Something that is easily worn and easy to break. Through out history people have witnessed the break down of societal groups into anarchy. It only takes a disaster that starts out small and soon travels to a full scale, destructive measure. Haiti’s earthquake set up a country into a mass anarchy that no longer follows rules, or societal, "normalities," but soon quickly dissolved into a all to common idea of animal panic, and fear, and that soon dissolved the very "humanity," in everyone -- or the concept that we fool ourselves into thinking we have -- into anarchy based on survival, even if that means we have to kill our neighbours who we used to have drinks with and invited over for dinner.

The one thing I do applaud Jose Saramago's novel is -- that his novel, does not come across as over emotional poetic in terms of trying to romanticize the misfortune and pain of those that he has created. He merely acts as a observer, describing their trials to survive, even when it is easier to give up. Jose Saramago however does make it quite clear, that even with the hopeless situation that these people find themselves in, there is something that has them continuing forward. As if there is something that they are "hoping," for and yet have a strong understanding that is a fantasy. However, Jose Saramago does very well in describing mankind’s spirit that demands respect, and therefore keeps people going. The last aspect that I enjoyed and respected greatly with this book is; that the author/narrator/observer, does not try to justify any of the horrible atrocities that people are capable of. He merely holds up the mirror to our possibilities and shows us just how fragile our "civilizations," are and how society can break down in a blink of an eye.

Take Care my Gentle Readers
Thank-you For Reading
And As Always
Stay Well Read


Thursday 4 November 2010

Humanity and Violence and Altruism

Hello Gentle Reader

For the past couple of days I have been reading "Blindness," by the late author Jose Saramago, who had passed away on June 18th of 2010. As I start moving towards the last stretch of the novel (review coming soon) I find myself, wondering, about the inheritance of humanities, violence and often its altruism -- if such a aspect exists.

Watching these nameless, characters, fight for their lives, and face tyranny of their own species, one cannot help but look back at human history with a certain aspect of scepticism that humanity is naturally and inherently good. For their have been cases of slavery, inhumane torture, genocide, war, the very alienation and isolation of certain people, based on the "class," they are born into.

These aspects, of humanity really do not show a positive light. There seems to lack a certain sense of human compassion within humanity itself. One thing that is certain, is that human beings love the idea that they are better then another human being. For whatever reason. People forget that we are all human. That we are all made of the substances, and need the very same aspects and nutrients in order to survive.

But the question now is: "Does the horrible atrocities, of human beings, out way the positive aspects that human beings do for each other?"

Is Mother Teresa’s humanitarian work with Lepers overshadowed, by the oppression and tyranny of the holocaust?

Does World War I, destroy the hard work that Betty Williams put in to ease the suffering and violence of northern Ireland?

Do the residential schools of the British Colonies, over shadow the colonies later work in promoting peace, and humanitarian need for those that suffer in third world countries?

Perhaps for some people it does. The bitter taste of the atrocities that people are capable of, appears to linger on the taste buds and mouths of people rather then the sweet joys of the good people are capable.

In many ways I would say personally that violence and altruism are both aspects of the human mind. That both are two of the same person -- just two different halves. It in many ways is the individuals choice of which one the individual decides to focus on. Certainly we are bread with violence placed in our feeble minds. But we certainly also have the awareness to know that it is wrong, and that we can help our fellow mankind rather then kill our fellow human beings.

Truly if anything history has taught me, is that mankind, as a whole, is capable of good aspects of the human character, and bad aspects of the human psyche. But also as human beings we are individuals. Individuals shape society and human race as a whole. That also means that certain individuals choices often reflect on people as a whole. Hitler's destructives tendencies, the Rwanda genocide's lasting impact, Africa as a whole, fallen into the depths of hell. These choices and historical impacts have affected everyone in some ways grand and miniscule. However, the effort to do good, by individuals, and organizations such as MADD and the Red Cross and Betty Williams, Mother Teresa, and others, they have shown that mankind can get past their destructive past, and strive to grand and honourable contributions to the world. Maybe in time the sweet taste of the altruistic will be more appreciated then the linger bitter taste of the horrible aspects of people.

Take Care Gentle Reader
Thank-you for Reading Gentle Reader
And As Always
Stay Well Read


Friday 29 October 2010

Tom McCarthy's "C,"

Hello Gentle Reader

C is for - Caul
- Chute
- Crash
- Call
- Communication
- and Carrefax
Serge Carrefax to be exact is our main character, and the readers ambassador in Tom McCarthy's 2010 Booker Prize Short Listed novel, "C." "C," was the critics favourite to win the Booker Prize of 2010, but was beaten out by another novel (Harold Jacobson's "The Finkler Question," to be exact). In some manner or another every reviewer and person who apparently reads the novel, says that the book "C," by Tom McCarthy is written in "High Modernism," with "Continental Philosophy," which for the "average," or "general," reader would only shrug and pay little attention to such terms.

One can certainly understand why some people would claim that the novel is written in "High Modernism." The only problem with saying such a term is that, the book is actually readable. Any person could probably pick up the book and read it -- whether or not the person actually get it is another aspect; but the book is quite reader friendly in its conversation(s) of characters, style of prose, and the beautifully painted scenes that Tom McCarthy can paint with his mind's eye paint brush with words, that one can almost certainly see every landscape depicted in the novel.

This talent of McCarthy's depiction of landscapes, is often used quite well. However reading about the landscapes, and the beauty and all sorts of other strange things, is also quite tedious after a while. But yet again, sometimes Tom McCarthy's darkly humours, and almost warped character Serge Carrefax, often gives us a taste of scenery depicted quite well, but also with a hint of philosophy.

Who could forget the scene in which Serge Carrefax is looking at a imprint in the grass, of a former colleague once laid. The imprint capturing the scene perfectly of his death.

"The other accident he doesn't see take place---only its aftermath. Beswick forgets to strap himself into his seat and fall out when his pilot loops the loop. He plunges three thousand feet and lands in a nearby field. A Beswick-shaped mark stays in the grass for weeks: head, torso, legs and outstretched arms.

"The Acid from his body," Stredman says as he and Serge stand above the patch one afternoon. "Stops new grass growing."

"It's a good likness," Serge says

"All his memories, and everything he ever thought about or did reduced to battery chemicals."

"Why not?" asks Serge. "It's what we are.""

Clearly that is not a conventional, way to show a point in a review -- but I am not a conventional review(er); and Tom McCarthy is not a conventional novelist. His novel is a book about one man’s life. A very intense and short life to be honest. If one wants to know how short the life of Serge Carrefax is, then they should consider it in this way: 1898 - 1922 -- are the years that the novel takes place.

But in three hundred and ten pages (or so) Tom McCarthy documents the life of Serge's brief wink of a life, with such detail, and wonder, and beauty and paints a life lived in full detail one can truly understand how such a brief life, is able to be extended and also wrapped up at three hundred and some pages.

Thinking back on the novel, Serge Carrefax's life was relatively cut up. However Tom McCarthy allows the novel to flow as if Serge went from point A (childhood) - Point B (adolescents/early adult hood) with great ease, not missing other parts of his life. It flows, naturally, and wonderfully. In many ways the novel flows like memory. How we as people only remember certain parts of our lives, yet it appears to flow rather naturally, when we think back on our lives.

It however does come to my attention that "C," by Tom McCarthy is written with many hidden layers, and often demands a lot of attention, to catch certain allusion. The one that I can think of most certainly at the moment is "Futurist Manifesto," by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. Of course I have never read this manifesto and just recently heard about Marinetti -- so perhaps after re-reading the novel in the future along with the "Futurist Manifesto," by Marinetti, possibly certain parts of the story would become more clear to me.

Is Tom McCarthy's "C," a novel for everyone? Certainly not. Is any novel a novel for anyone though? Certainly not. However Tom McCarthy's style, prose, and greatness certainly are his own, and I quite enjoyed reading, this novel by Tom McCarthy. I would certainly read other novels by him personally. Would I recommend "C," by Tom McCarthy to others -- a difficult question. Myself personally, I would have to say that it would depend on the person. I would not recommend this novel to anyone, who is just willing to read a novel, without putting any thought into what they were reading or trying to "escape," into the novel, would not be someone I would recommend this novel to. Would I recommend this novel to a "serious," reader, who would perhaps be able to catch certain 'slight-of-hand,' tricks, certainly. Perhaps that reader would be able to get something more of it then I could. However I would still say this is a great book that I had enjoyed reading. I would not give that up for the world, either.

Take Care Gentle Reader
Thank-you for Reading my Dear Patient Gentle Readers
and as always:
Stay Well Read


Thursday 7 October 2010

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2010

Hello Gentle Reader

The Nobel Prize for Literature for 2010 has been awarded too the Peruvian author, Mario Vargas Llosa. For the reason of:

"for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat."

Congrulations to Mario Vargas Llosa, for winning The Nobel Prize in Literature.

Saturday 18 September 2010

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

Hello Gentle Reader

I have been sick for past few days. With a nasty cold. When I cough, something fly’s up my throat, and into my mouth. I spit it out, and there, in, the sink is a green blob of infectious or infected mucous that looks back at me. I can't help but turn the hot water on, and watch go down the drain. Makes me wonder what kind of war, is going on inside of my body. But to my relief, of being sick, and barely having the energy to eat -- seeing as my throat gets so soar -- and barely wanting to do anything at all, I found myself, reading and sleeping most of the time. In this time though I was able to read the six hundred and sixty page novel in three volumes called "Skippy Dies," by Paul Murray.

A comedic yet tragic novel, of growing up, and the growing pains of growing up, the novel certainly is something of extraordinary feats. The depiction of the mundane life, of the students, and even the teachers. The idea that even though we all had dreams at one point, sometimes our lives take the complete opposite direction then the one that we had hoped for. I mean honestly who would really want to become a teacher, and go back to their own school, and teach there? Who really wants to remain in the past, even in the present? Not many would say that, that is what they had planned for their life. Living in a suburb, that's power goes out because someone is building a science park next door, and then to go teach at the same all boys school that is falling apart, and your haunted by past events, and the nameless past nicknames.

The story really does show the inner life of school boys, and what really goes on in their minds. Obsessed with sex, and their own personal problems, and trying to act tough and cool, yet what lurks beneath them all is emotional problems, and real tender people, who are open to blows and attacks from others.

Throughout the story we are given a look inside the large ensemble of characters. We see how each one is connected to the other in some way or another. Howard the history teacher is connected to the boys, on the grounds that he used to go Seabrook, and knows all too well, the politics of the school, as well as what it means to go to the school. If going to the school means anything, at all.

The novel, is an interesting story. As I sit here, trying to explain it to myself, I find myself unable to. In fact to say that Daniel “Skippy,” Juster was the main character feels a bit like a stretch. I mean he was the main character, but he never did seem to say much about anything. In fact, his unknown malaise to us, and his inability to connect with others, appears to come from his father, and family, who appear to be people emotionally cut off from each other, in order to keep up the façade that they are a good old happy family. When in reality that they are not, when the mother is dying of cancer. A poison that is raving her body from head to toe.

The scientific theory called “M-Theory,” plays a part in the novel as well, from the plump pudgy character and questionable genius Ruprecht Van Doren, who is a friend and roommate of Daniel “Skippy,” Juster. The “M-Theory,” is a way that for me or in my observation, that Ruprecht can feel special or hope that there is another universe in which he can be respected in. Yet it appears, that Ruprecht logical mind is put to the test when grief, is placed on his platter, and he is forced deal with Skippy’s death. When everything is suddenly turned away and around Ruprecht will try and contact Skippy and use the “M-Theory,” as justification as the need for doing so, and possibility that he can contact Skippy. In most terms however, everyone knows, Ruprecht will fail, and most just go along with the idea, just to simply watch him fall flat on his face, making others snicker and laugh at the supposed geniuses plans, showing that he nothing more than a normal person. Nothing more and nothing less. Yet Ruprecht science fictional ideas just keep moving forward, and his ability to cease giving up, makes him a tragic character. Because his love science, his arrogance lack of ability to actually understand life, in its simple format, and to see that life is not just made of laws of physics and “M-Theory,” and atoms and particles, and really life is just simple, in its terms that you live and die. Ruprecht unable to comprehend this, and un able to accept this, only sets himself up for more and more failure, to the point that you only expect him to fail, and say “good for it, you deserve to fail. You can’t accept the inevitable, then so be it.” Which makes it hard (for a person like myself to sympathize with Ruprecht)

Throughout the entire life story, we watch the characters fall to pieces. The entire novel truly shows the authors ability to show the hopelessness of life, and its humour and also shows us, just how much everyone is hiding on the inside. How we are all, secretly on the verge of mental breakdowns, cheating on the people we love, suicide, and watching our entire world falling apart around us. The author Paul Murray shows us in his novel “Skippy Dies,” just how futile life can be, and also how nasty people are. When people try to cover up scandalous affairs for the good of the many, rather than facing the justice and consequences that come with all our actions, Paul Murray is showing us all that no matter what. There is a deep hopelessness, and irony to our lives, but also a sense of hope. Surely one can see that we should not envy those, that looks happier or more beautiful or smarter than us. Because it appears that their worlds themselves are falling apart around them, and their entire inner world is plagued by a malaise. When the world around us is falling apart, there appears to be no more reason to live, we all find a reason to live, and just move. When your hand is in the fire, just pull it out, one could say.

Thank-you for reading Gentle Reader
Take care Gentle Reader
And Remember to always stay Well Read.


Thursday 9 September 2010

The 2010 Booker Prize Shortlist

Hello Gentle Reader

When I read the 2010 Booker Prize Long list, in August I was excited to see David Mitchell's new novel "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet," on the list, I found myself hoping that now was going to be the year that David Mitchell won the Booker Prize. So of course before the Booker Prize stamp for winner or shortlist, was placed on it, I went out and bought along with the other two books that I thought had a chance of winning the Booker Prize. The other two books are "Skippy Dies," by Paul Murray which I am reading now, and "C," by Tom McCarthy.

Others on the 2010 Booker Prize Long list are:

Peter Carey: "Parrot and Olivier in America."

Emma Donoghue: "Room."

Helen Dunmore: "The Betrayal."

Damon Galgut: "In a Strange Room."

Howard Jacobson: "The Finkler Question."

Andrea Levy: "The Long Song."

Lisa Moore: "February."

Rose Tremain: "Trespass."

Christos Tsiolkas: "The Slap."

Alan Warner: "The Stars in the Bright Sky."

yet the Shortlist omits two of the three books, that I had hoped would be on the Shortlist, and hopefully one would win. It appears that Paul Murray, and David Mitchell were omitted, from the shortlist while Tom McCarthy and his experimental/modernist inspired novel "C," would go on to make it to the shortlist.

The Shortlist is the following:

Tom McCarthy: "C."

Peter Carey: "Parrot and Olivier in America."

Emma Donoghue: "Room."

Damon Galgut: "In a Strange Room."

Howard Jacobson: "The Finkler Question."

Andrea Levy: "The Long Song."

I think the real piss off here, is that Peter Carey is shortlisted once again. For those who do not know, Peter Carey is one of the only two novelists to have won the Booker Prize twice. The other being Nobel Laureate in Literature JM Coetzee. What really grinds the teeth here, is that Peter Carey is an exceptional novelist, and a great writer, however, I think, that him being shortlisted once again for the Booker Prize -- and even if he does win it -- kind of ruins the whole prize itself. That’s just my opinion of course. Winning twice whatever, winning three times is fine, but I question the idea of what about new novelists, who are exceptional and great, and are not given a chance next to these great writers like Peter Carey, JM Coetzee, and others. I think it’s a bit disgusting that they are not always given a chance, to further themselves in the literary world, when everyone pays attention to the great writers of today. That to me shows the literary world is a bit uptight, in the way that it won’t recognize new talent, it only wishes to see, grand writers, getting better. If there is no room for new writers, to have a chance to win prizes, and further show off their extraordinary talent, because they loose to already popular writers like Peter Carey, and JM Coetzee, and others, then the Prize looses somewhat of its worth and credibility because it becomes stuck up and a gentleman's club.

Great novelists come from all walks of life. Many great writers never did win the Booker Prize. Beryl Bainbridge and Nobel Laureate in Literature Doris Lessing never won the Booker Prize but were Shortlisted many times. There fiction is anything but less then authors who have won the Booker Prize. In my opinion I think the Booker Prize has made some grand mistakes, and has also redeemed itself as well. Though still, at the moment the Booker Prize feels like a gentleman's club for Literary Grand Writers; and refuses to recognize younger writers, and other writers who are exceptionally well, and are not well known.

"Simon Burke of Waterstone's tipped C to take the prize, calling it "a challenging yet dazzling novel", adding: "The news that David Mitchell has not made the shortlist will cause gnashing of teeth across the book world, but perhaps is a useful reminder of the independence and unpredictability of the Booker. This is still a hugely varied and exciting list. Our money is on Tom McCarthy. The more people that read [C] the better."'

I would not say that The Booker Prize, is independent or unpredictable. It appears like, if JM Coetzee or Peter Carey writes a new book, its always ending up nominated or shortlisted (and perhaps winning) the Booker Prize. That’s not unpredictable to me, that just appears repetitive, and taking an easy way out, by picking a great novelist, rather then taking a chance on another novelist.

Here is hoping though that the winner of the Booker Prize of 2010 is deserving of it. Not saying that Peter Carey is not deserving, but at the same time, its about time he moves over for the prize to be awarded to a new novelist.

I am hoping that Tom McCarthy's "C," wins, and that a lot of people will read the novel.

It still seems like a pity that David Mitchell did not get shortlisted, but there is always next year and the year after that.

Take Care Gentle Reader
Thank-you for reading Gentle Reader
and as always:
Stay Well Read


Thursday 2 September 2010

Kraken by China Mieville

Hello Gentle Reader

I was first introduced to China Mieville from his novel "The City & The City," which was a alright novel. Kraken though does not seem to measure up to the expectations in which I had hoped it would have. Told through the eyes of a third person narrator, who is not objective, I can see that, there are some things, that just don't sit well with my appetite for literature and a good story.

Set in London, we as the reader are given two different coherent ideas of what this London is. There is the "Normal," London, which things obey the laws of reality, and then there is the alternate London where the laws of reality are not so much, obeyed. Yet they still have laws -- oddly enough.

Part of any fantasy really, I can see is that, the reader is always going to have to suspend a certain amount of belief, or view on reality and just kind of the let the story flow. One could compare fantasy in a novel or a story, to that of a magic show, that a spectator is watching. The spectator in a way kind of lets go and just enjoys the show, wondering how the magician did the illusion. Fantasy is the same way, it just suspends all belief, and is just entertainment.

"Kraken," for me, just didn't feel right. It felt, melodramatic at sometimes, such as when the police find out that two villains or rather evil people (if one could call them people) going by the name of "Goss," and "Subby," are back, I felt, unable to relate to who these two people where, at really was the danger of "Goss," and "Subby," though I was intrigued with these creatures, and wanted to know more about them, and where they came from and what they were.

I also felt like there were so many characters, to trying to figure out the same thing, that I was uncertain what really, was going on. At times I was unsure of, why certain people, where searching for a missing dead, and preserved giant squid, which apparently to a religion or rather a cult, is known as "Kraken," which they worship as their God.

There were times when I wondered who was the main protagonist, Billy Harrow -- the curator who preserved the giant squid -- Kraken God; or Dane Parnell one of the people who worships the giant preserved squid as a God.

Perhaps there were to many characters, and not enough characterization, for this novel to work with so many characters. As someone said on another blog or review, this novel is funny -- though sometimes i seemed to have missed humour -- its over lying story arch does not really work. However it may have worked, with short interlinked stories perhaps, which could allow the episodic chapters to become more detailed, look at the characters, their motives, and goals and reasons for wanting to the squid, rather then it being left out and sometimes feeling forced.

The potential for a great story is there. A bit more explaining and cutting down the amount of characters would make for a much more pleasing story rather then it being a cacophony of voices, and English slang.

That’s the only other problem really that I had with China Mieville's "Kraken," is the English slang that was presented in the third person narrator. I can accept and tolerate, that form of language in the characters, speaking. But when the narrator sounds more like a character rather then a objective person or fly sitting on a wall, looking around at the characters as they look for the squid. Perhaps though that is what China Mieville wanted, to be done with the third person technique is to have the third person character, be a character itself. I toyed with the idea that the third person narrator was London itself, though I can't say for certain and I certainly cannot say it is.

Is China Mieville's novel "Kraken," a good read? Yes. It is a great read? no, not really. However I don't think any book is really a great read for that matter. Every book has its flaws. Every story has its holes in it. China Mieville's fantastical novel, is not a beach read, or a pool side read, but one you more or less, need to pay close attention to. Its not a fuzzy story written together. Its densely packed, with a lot of English slang. A good read yes, but not a great novel, and certainly it did not really live up to the expectations i had for China Mieville after reading his novel "The City & The City."

Take Care Gentle Reader
Thank-you for reading Gentle Reader
As Always Stay well Read


Wednesday 25 August 2010

Teatro Grottesco by Thomas Ligotti

Hello Gentle Reader

I have finished reading my first, short collection of short stories, by the master of horror that is not horror but is considered horror, in an entirely new different form. Thomas Ligotti, the master of nightmares, the absurdity and poppycock, of life and existence, shows the very fear of the human condition.

One thing that I can surely say about Thomas Ligotti, is that he does not sit around and waste his time, with describing, bodily disfiguration or mutilation. Thomas Ligotti, does not waste his time, with describing anything in to a gory detail, that we can pretty much see every single blood cell in a pool of blood. In fact, the way that Thomas Ligotti, presents some of the situations is almost normal, and is not shocking at all, not even unsettling, just makes you read along. To say the least, Thomas Ligotti is not going to waste his time, with simple Hollywood shock tactics. Thomas Ligotti doesn't even waste his time, by making the plot move along via any chasing after any thing or anyone. In fact Thomas Ligotti, just lets his work flow from the characters point of view. The rants, the idea's, and the arguments that are presented with Thomas Ligotti's work, is just his own. Some say that he reminds them of Edgar Allan Poe, and H.P. Lovecraft.

I can see where some people, see the Poe influence and the Lovecraft influence as well. However I also some influence from Franz Kafka and if i may say what i say, i also see some influence from Thomas Bernhard. The way Thomas Ligotti is rather disturbing. Its hard to relate to the characters sometimes -- and sometimes its appears impossible, which is fine by me.

If a person is looking for a coherent all tied up and neatly decorated ending with Thomas Ligotti's work, I would suggest look elsewhere. For nothing is ever truly answered, and even there was an answer there would be more questions after that answer. Rather than Thomas Ligotti, wasting his time, answering every detailed question regarding, the questions that are not answered in his work, he allows the reader to come up with their own possibilities. Much as literature, should.

Thomas Ligotti does have amazing descriptive power, though. In the short story titled "The Clown Puppet," he describes the face of the clown puppet with fluid, and harshness of the narrators, voice.

from "The Clown Puppet," taken from "Teatro Grottesco," by Thomas Ligotti:

“Its expressiveness was all in that face with its pale and pitted complexion, its slightly pointed nose and delicate lips, and its dead puppet eyes — eyes that did not seem able to fix or focus themselves upon anything but only gazed with an unchanging expression of dreamy malignance, an utterly nonsensical expression of stupid viciousness and cruelty.”

Its not meant to be unsettling as it is to describe the almost horrifying aspect of the clown. How its eyes, show no life, yet has all the workings of a regular human face.

Thomas Ligotti, surely does describe the nonsensical life, and existence of mankind. When one person may happily filling paper, or doing a job, that they find great meaning in, Thomas Ligotti, rips that shroud away and we just see the meaningless and absurdity that life has become of the human race. Our supposedly meaningful jobs, that present themselves with great, wonder, and awe, and a sense of purpose for the person doing the task, Thomas Ligotti, shows us the inner workings of this. Thomas Ligotti, is merely saying that this nothing more then mechanical working. An illusion that we are just doing for the sake of doing it. Something we are forcing ourselves to do because we are told do it, because it is good, and that we have to do because its what puts food on the table. With this kind of thinking, we fool ourselves into doing these jobs because that’s the way it is to be done. However, Thomas Ligotti, looks at this and laughs. He describes these tasks, and nothing more then a waste of time, and life, and is just something to keep the boredom and pointlessness, of existence at bay. Even though the task itself is pointless.

If a person is going to pick this collection of short stories up, and think that this book is just going to give them some violent action, and show them dancing skeletons and woman running around with the tops off, screaming manically, I would laugh at them.

Thomas Ligotti, is not going to waste his time, with the rather cliché and pathetic tactics of Hollywood Horror. In fact, Thomas Ligotti's beautiful, and macabre prose, require concentration, and deep thinking, and even then you may not understand what is trying to be said, but Mr. Thomas Ligotti is not going to waste your time, with simple, thinking. In fact Thomas Ligotti, is merely giving you the props to creature your own meaning -- even though it may as well be as pointless as existing itself.

Some may look at this work of fiction and call it Nihilism. But it appears far from the truth. Thomas Ligotti is not a nihilist from what I can see. But rather an observer who is looking at the world, from his unblended eyes, and see's a world of meaningless and pointless random events that just happen to happen. Rather than looking for meaning, and performing experiments, and declaring its divine intervention, Thomas Ligotti just walks away from and accepts it as it is. There is no need to look for anything that is not there, as far as Mr. Ligotti is concerned. In fact, Mr. Ligotti, just accepts what is or was happening, as what it is. Mr. Ligotti, accepts a falling meteorite, as a simple falling rock from the sky. There is nothing to other than that. When a friend comes to knock on the door to talk about "Gas Station Carnivals," or another talks about creepy spider like creatures that have a human head, Thomas Ligotti, just accepts it as a random occurrence.

However Mr. Ligotti, also is quick to point out, other true facts of life. There are some people in the world, that we as human beings give them the power to control and even influence our lives. Funny thing is, we are not sure that they are there at all. We have no idea who or what they are, or even if they take a shape. Some days they appear to hide in an office, sending strange messages on paper down a street. Other times, they are a company that owns the doctors, and prescribes medications for your fears, so you can function in day to day life. Yet the characters are not sure who they are, and how they got this influence or power, but they don't appear to question it that much, but at the same time, they sometimes wonder. Even though the world is pointless, and meaningless, with random occurrences, Mr. Ligotti, also shows us, our own godlike power, that we can have over our fellow mankind.

Again this is not your typical horror. Mr. Ligotti, has gone back to the roots of horror, and is not going to waste his time, with simple shock techniques. Mr. Ligotti is going to make you think, scratch your head, re-read, and just wonder what the hell is going on. A true genius of horror. Though a real pity that he is so underappreciated.

Take Care Gentle Reader
Thank-you for Reading.

Stay Well Read


Friday 20 August 2010

Cloud Atlas

Hello Gentle Reader

Recently (more precisely about six minutes before i wrote this blog) i had finished my first David Mitchell novel. The novel? His most well known novel: "Cloud Atlas.". "Cloud Atlas," was short listed for the Booker Prize in 2004. One of his other novels "Number9Dream," was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2001. His recent novel "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet," has so far been long listed for the 2010 booker prize. (I would like to buy this book after I make some money. For a few reasons. I do not have a lot of hard cover books. I love the way David Mitchell writes. As well as David Mitchell, has a extraordinary blend of style as well as story telling. Balancing the two out.

"Cloud Atlas," is a rather interesting read. I was well aware that it was six different view points (or stories) connected together, and each one was written in a different style. When i first opened the book, and start reading, I am faced with a "epistolary story (novel)." Of course I roll my eyes, but am not going to be discouraged, and keep reading. I get the through that one. Though while reading it felt like complete agony sometimes, because I truly dislike that kind of writing style. Hoping for something better in the next story (because for the first part this book is like a box of chocolates, your just not sure what you are going to get.) -- will come along i keep reading. Yet again its another "epistolary story (novel)," which makes me grumble. I get through that one as quick as I can.

Next I am in the fast paced, action packed, story of Luisa Rey. I quite enjoyed this one. I found it both fascinating and to be a really fun read. Though after reading it I felt like a dietician who had just went into McDonalds and ate the greasiest amount of food he/she could have. Why you may ask? Because Literary Fiction is not always plot orientated and action packed, and always a fun read. I consider myself a Literary Fiction junkie, and well after treating myself, and feeling good about it -- well I felt kind of guilty (in a pleasurable kind of way). But that does strike a cord with me because, it shows to me that literary fiction doesn't always tell a story but rather is just style, and can be rather boring, and bore the reader into picking up something less better written, but more entertaining. There I think, Literary Fiction has a dilemma. However I still must admit that I enjoyed reading the fast paced, action packed story.

Probably my most favourite story of them all is "The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish." It’s just comedic and backwards, and wrong, and is just a nice read. I enjoyed the fact that the character is stubborn, and head strong. I also enjoy the often off beat sense of humour that pops up in places. It’s not overblown, or exaggerated. It’s just there, to make you have a chuckle, and have a laugh. Which to me is what good comedy is. Laugh after laugh, after laugh, after laugh, is just . . . well boring. A laugh is only good so many times. So this story, of circumstances gone wrong, and the nightmarish hell of a nursing home, and old people gone wild (not in the sexual sense) is truly quite funny. It was interesting to see the character more or less stripped of all his dignity et cetera, and then just thrown down on the ground like nothing. Treated like a child. Perhaps the way that the elderly and senior citizens is just abruptly painful and disgusting. They are human, and deserve a sense of respect, not to be talked down to like a pet or a dog. Still however, watching Timothy go toe to toe with the staff of the nursing home, is just funny. Though he's the one that often ends up down on the ground like a beaten down dog. Still his persistence is admirable and admirable.

The next tale is set in a futuristic world. Written in a style of a interview between what I first thought was a android who had committed some crime, and a man who the reader simply knows as the "Archivist." So as we go through this tale we learn that this creature is not a android or robot, but rather a clone. Clones in this world that is called a "Corpocracy," are simply made for the simple reason, to do the jobs that people who are "pureblood," (a pureblood would be a person such as you or myself gentle reader) would rather not do. However something’s are left . . . unknown to the reader about this world, which is fine and dandy. I consider myself a detailed orientated person, I allowed myself to continue on with this story. Our clone who has committed some crime that we do not know of, is telling her story and how she has become so smart, et cetera, and is telling the interviewer about the cruelty that the clones "fabricants," are put through. Several times we can see the unbridled paranoia of people or "purebloods," and their unjustified prejudices take place, in the most horrible ways, and yet are not looked down upon. As the reader, we ourselves are struck by this horror, but the people that commit them, are not. Towards the end, we can truly see that the human or "purebloods," desire of hedonistic and lazy living has come at a rather cruel, ironic, and disgusting truth.

The last story and probably one that i do not as like as much as the three middle ones, is about a boy named Zachary as he tells his story. It had the potential to be such a great read, it truly did. The story was there, its interesting and captivating, but (there is always a but) it just felt wrong. The way that it was presented, just crawled under my skin like some parasitic bug crawls under a dead corpses skin, and began to itch to the point where i could not take it anymore. Perhaps it’s not even the way it was written. No actually that is wrong. David Mitchell is a very good author, so I apologize for being misleading. Its the language i guess. The extensive use of apostrophe's to make a rather fascinating and interesting sounding language, and to really make the character appear unique drove me mad. I know there are people out there, that go nuts for the use of such dialect and writing. There are people out there though as well that can read "Finnegan’s Wake," without actually sitting there scratching their head and going "huh?" or "what the fuck is this about? this makes no sense!" so in reality different tastes for us all. The language that Zachary uses just could not -- or rather would not grow on me. I could not get into it, and I could not help but bitching in my head about how much I disliked it. I said it before though. The potential of a great story is there -- no there is no potential, the great story is there. The reader just needs to get past the language in order to go through with it, and to see the story for its worth. I must admit I could not, but I know others out there certainly can and will. Those readers will certainly enjoy the story of Zachary more then I was able to.

My first read of David Mitchell, has been successful and enjoyable. I will most certainly read more fiction by David Mitchell. Maybe after I accumulate up a bit of money I can go out and buy his new novel in hardcover. Though $32.00 i tell myself is a hell of a lot to pay. But i guess to own a few hard covers, and enjoy the story you do what you have to do. I certainly look forward to seeing more of what Mr. David Mitchell pops out. I would also like to give his traditional "coming of age," novel "Black Swan Green," a try as well. I think its underappreciated by many people, and I do think it would make for a compelling read, from his post-modern narrative techniques.

Thank-You For Reading Gentle Reader
Stay Well Read

Take Care


Thursday 19 August 2010

Literature as Dialogue

Hello Gentle Reader

Is Literature a form of dialogue?

Literature appears to share many common elements. Story, style, characters, and the exploration of a theme. Is it far stretched to say that Franz Kafka's notorious works of the surreal and the idea of mans absurd battle with society and itself, and the constant exploration of alienation, to have influenced others like:

Samuel Beckett
Thomas Bernhard
Haruki Murakami
Charles Bukowski
Albert Camus

among many others . . . ?

Some would say yes, while others would say no.

Literature has a lot in common. Authors read books. But authors also write books. Would it be far fetched to say that any of the above authors were not influenced by Franz Kafka. Could it not be said that Virginia Woolf, had influenced an entire generation of feminist authors?

Does this mean that Literature is dialogue? Some form of universal tongue, written in different languages, but always changing the way that the individual may see the world around them in some different form or another? Perhaps it does. However one must also take into account that many different people will read many different kinds of books.

Some remain in the science fiction genre. Others remain in the fantasy genre. While some may remain in the horror genre. And an "elite," group turn to the "Literary Fiction," that shapes and dictates "Mainstream," Literature. Though I of course find that sometimes funny, because one must always look so hard to find some actual "Literacy Fiction," rather then just genre fiction it appears.

The question still remains though. Is Literature a form of dialogue? In my (humble) opinion it is.

Herta Muller writes about the communist dictatorship and its bleak and horrible control it had on others.

Haruki Murakami, writes about the alienation that the people of Japan (usually younger people) feel, within the new consumerism driven economy.

Charles Bukowski, had written about the seedy low life of those that lived in a world of madness of booze, and otherwise hedonistic cravings.

Emile Zola, took the realism literary genre and advanced it into the "Naturalism." where he tried to show that the environment (and genetics) ultimately influences the person/individual's character.

Irvine Welsh, shows us the Scottish working classes day to day struggles, and the recreational drug use that encompasses the youth from the 1960's to the present.

Elfriede Jelinek, takes the novel and uses her characters like string puppets, and plays with them to show how the sexes (two genders) are always combating each other for domination of the other.

It appears that literature always has the same form of themes running through out. The themes, come from all over the world, and are put into various locations and settings. The themes are faced, and challenged by the characters from all over the world. Yet the basic principles of the novel or the story and often Literature itself, remain the same, opening it up for a sense of dialogue. Allowing the reader to talk to the others about what they interpret from the novel. This does make Literature a form of dialogue.

If the mechanics stay the same, if the themes are presented, and the authors shows these themes and allows for the characters to overcome or tragically fail, the reader is given a certain welcoming into the dialogue of literature. Though the dialogue is not like the normal dialogue that people may experience when they talk on the phone or with a friend face to face.

Literature is to show the reader as the individual something. What that may be, is most likely up to the reader. the author simply writes. what is written is words. words are composed by letters. Letters are in all honesty a symbol. Something that represents a certain syllable or sound. Therefore all words are, are just simple syllables and sounds. But what the author writes about is (usually) unique to the author themselves. The author may wish to entertain or enlighten. Perhaps both. Such a thing is not impossible. Its all just a matter of how the author does it.

Literature then is dialogue. A strange dialogue, that is unique and follows its own rules. -- yet again what they teach in English class in High School, Middle School, and Grades School, does not always meet the expectations of some of the books out there. For a quick example "Malloy," by Samuel Beckett, is set in two paragraphs. That’s it. In school we are often taught to write in paragraphs, and complete sentences. Well sometimes those rules are broken.

But literature remains a dialogue.

Horace Engdahl the former permanent secretary (Also Known As: spokesperson) for the Swedish Academy (the same Academy that awards the Nobel Prize for Literature) was reported as saying:

[he's talking about the United States] "too insular and ignorant to challenge Europe as the center of the literary world and does not really participate in the big dialogue of literature."

or something along those lines.

What Horace Engdahl meant by the "big dialogue of literature," and what i mean by literature as dialogue maybe different. But we can both agree that literature is like language, and language is communication -- therefore literature is dialogue. Both of us agree then that, literature is dialogue, and that remains the purpose of literature itself. To remain a dialogue, to entertain, and to enlighten. Sometimes however one of the two is taken to a more larger extent then the other. But the main objective of Literature itself is to remain a form of dialogue.

Thank-you for reading Gentle Reader

I apologize that i have not written more recently. I know I should have. My writing has been out of whacked recently but I am trying to get the groove back.

Stay Well Read Gentle Reader


Thursday 29 July 2010


hello Gentle Reader

Frost by Thomas Bernhard, is more of a rant by a old man who has gone crazy rather then a linear story. however it is good, if you are willing to put up with it. Sometimes it can be difficult, sometimes not so difficult. One this is for certain with this novel is that it is certainly full of bitter, cynical, vicious, critical, pessimistic, and acidic prose.

The first few lines show the reader what they are in for:

“A medical internship consists of more than spectating at complicated bowel operations, cutting open stomach linings, bracketing off lungs and sawing off feet; and it doesn’t just consist of thumbing closed the eyes of the dead and hauling babies out into the world either.”

The story opens with a young medical intern, sent away under the orders of his superior surgeon to go observe and examine, (and report back to the surgeon) about his brother the painter named Strauch.

As the novel progresses we soon learn that Strauch is well -- in my opinion at least -- insane or on the brink of madness. he has had no contact with his borther the surgeon for quite sometime, and now the surgeon wants to know -- through interloping and espoinage it appears -- how his brother is doing.

through the stay at the village of Weng, where the painter Strauch is, the narrator is left to listen to the absurd, profund, suprisingly lyrical and of course -- bitter, nasty, misanthropic, misongist, critcal, vicious, ferociouse -- rants of the painter. the very man who he i sent to watch and to observe and report on. The very man that one cannot help but see a friendship -- however strange it maybe -- growing between he too.

not much can be siad on this novel. in fact the lacking of a coherent plot makes it difficult to review. But the musing's (typical of Thomas Bernhard fiction) are amazing and often absurd and sometimes there is a mixture of a dark grotesque humor, that makes you laugh.

a novel i would recomend to people who can stand the style of Samuel Beckett, as well as a novel for those who like the absurdity of life and to read about crazy old men rant and rave about just how pathetic life is and the very mistake of being born, and how it in itself is a tragic accident.

take care Gentle Reader
Thank-you for reading
stay well read