Posts Tagged ‘american literature’
This is my first introduction to Cormac McCarthy who is best known for his Border Trilogy which comprises of one book that I think many have at least heard of it not read, All the Pretty Horses. It is hard for me to talk about his style as this book is different from many of his previous which seem to predominantly focus on an aging western landscape. The Road is an amazing book that will be hard to put down. The writing is fragmented and sparse which reflects the narrative, a tale of a boy and his father as they traverse a barren landscape. Some kind of natural or man-made disaster has decimated the entire population and its landscape. In this world everyone is homeless and all men are thieves to some capacity.
Some walk on the road struggling to live. Some eat others. Some capture others. Some wish only to be left alone. To own something is to be burdened and these are some of the issues that this father and son confront as they walk this landscape, struggling to make sense of their lives. Life consists of a rather dull routine for these two: wake up, find food, walk, find more food, eat, hide, sleep; repeat.
The subject of the story is depressing and rather serious, so this is not a light read, but rest assured it is also short, only 287 pages. The pacing as I said is quick and the writing is broken up which makes the reading flow much smoother. Just as these two characters, who are simply referred to as Man and Boy, break up their day into small segments, so too is the writing.
If you’re interested, let me know and I’ll pass it along to you. Also, as a side note: the book has already been adapted into a film starring Viggo Mortensen, Charlise Theron, Robert Duvall, and Guy Pierce. From what I’ve seen of the trailer, it looks to be fairly faithful to the original story.
Just started The Road by Cormac McCarthy and my first thoughts; I’m truly blown away by the style of writing (sparse and fragmented) and how McCarthy is able to place the reader alongside the two traveler protagonists. Glad I settled on this after Sag Harbor, needed something dark to get away from the happy go light summer read that was Whitehead.
A few years ago I took a Valuing Modern Fiction course. Now while the course work and lectures were of a quality and standard that I did not appreciate, the one thing the course did provide me with was an exposure to some wonderful contemporary authors. The selection of the books reflected the various awards that had been given out that year in the industry: [ Pullitzer, Man Booker Prize for Fiction, Giller, CBC Canada Reads, Hugo Award, National Book Award, etc ]. The following books were selected:
- A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toewes
- Small Island by Andrea Levy
- Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
- Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
- The Known World by Edward P. Jones
- Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
A nice selection of books, some I enjoyed more than others, but the reason I am writing this post is that I’m now kicking myself in the ass for not having read one book in particular. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. She has made quite a name for herself, notably with her most recent publication: Home. Home is a sequel to Gilead which was just awarded the Orange Prize for fiction. It has also been featured as a book that President Obama recently read which has drawn some attention to the work as well.
Gileas is a story about a small, dusty prairie town in 1956, written in the form of a letter from a 75-year-old preacher to his six-year-old son.
I remember enjoying the writing and the premise but I did not finish the book in the time that we were given, what with other English course loads, and life distractions. The sequel Home takes place concurrently in the same locale, this time in the household of Reverend Robert Boughton, Ames’s closest friend. Apparently the books are independent and can be read as stand-alones on their own, but I hate knowing that there is another book that preceded this one as I feel I would be missing out on certain insights and conclusions drawn from the prior book by jumping into this one. Do I go back and re-read half of a book that was enjoyable so that I can read this book which is drawing so much buzz?
Lesson of the Day: Finish your assigned readings, so you don’t get annoyed the way I am with this issue.
“Scattered among these masquerades were people of a different type. Their clothing was somber and badly cut, bought from mail-order houses. While the others moved rapidly, darting into stores and cocktail bars, they loitered on the corners or stood with their backs to the show windows and stared at everyone who passed. When their stare was returned, their eyes filled with hatred. At this time Tod knew very little about them except that they had come to California to die.” – The Day of the Locust – Nathanael West –
The story centers around a group of misfit individuals who work on the outside of the Hollywood Film Industry. The real sadness is that these individuals seem to be unaware, if not unaware, then at least willfully blind of their condition. The artist, the fading vaudevillian, the starlet, the everyman, the gangster, the cowboy, the child star/prima donna, and the doting mother.
Set in the late 1930’s, just before WWII. What this book presents is the exact opposite of what Hollywood is touted to be for so much of the time. B-Movie stars stuck in a land that only privileges the A.
Despite these sad figures that dominate the landscape of the novel, there is something beautiful, beautiful and vulgar about the way that these characters insist on living their life, in fighting for their dream. I am not sure if that is a hopeful image or a tragic one.
It’s a quick read and well worth your time. There was a definite Hemingway The Sun Also Rises feel to this novel. Some of that same bleak sit around and wander, not really sure where to go. The pacing of the novel was a bit slow but I found it allowed for a more in depth exploration of the characters. The ending of the novel is quite disturbing and presents an image that will not go away anytime soon. Check it out at the library or bookstore. Worth it and as I said, a fairly quick read. I finished this in one day. Penguin: 183 pp.
I just picked up Richard Price’s Lush Life, and I’m not sure what to classify this book as. Fiction, Literature, Thriller, Mystery? If his name sounds familiar it is because he helped co-write The Wire as well as having written several other novels and their subsequent film screenplay adaptations (Clockers & Freedomland). I was in the bookstore this afternoon with Kari and Erin and they were buying books so I felt obligated to pick up something as well, but I also wanted to read something different. Lately I’ve been reading far too much Literature (Capital L – – academia), sometimes that can get to be a bit rough. I am still not sure what this falls under, is it an airport read? Who knows? Will review shortly, cheers.