Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Metamorphosis 5

Next up was Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald. A very different novel; almost entirely a monologue told to an unknown listener. Yet not boring at all... and even though translated from its original German it doesn't read awkwardly as many translations do. Austerlitz is a middle-aged man who was evacuated to England from Czechoslovakia as a child in the summer of 1939... as he gets older he feels the need to find out why. The novel tells the story of his own journey of self-discovery. But those are just the bare bones... Sebald is a master of observation, of things and emotions.

The one strange thing is that it's not divided into chapters. Even paragraphs can go on for pages and pages. So it's not really suited for reading in "chunks" as I tend to do. Reading on my lunch hour at work, I would reluctantly have to close the book right in the middle of an especially lush passage. But it's a haunting story and touched a chord in me.

I will now take a short break from the "Top 100 Must Read Novels" as I purchased a couple of P.D. James paperbacks from a flea market so I feel obligated to read them. However if, as has happened to me before, I get a few pages in and realize I've already read them, I'll be on to the next one on the "must read" list.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Metamorphosis 4

After the sometimes flowery Victorianism of Stevenson, the abrupt, slangy writing style of James Ellroy was, to say the least, jarring. This, and the huge cast of characters introduced at a rapidfire pace, made L.A. Confidential a bit hard to get into at first. But by the end of the book I couldn't wait to find out who the bad guys were... I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but let's just say this novel paints a very unflattering picture of the corruption of the oft-interwined LAPD and Hollywood in the 1950s.

This 1990 novel was later made into a movie starrting Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce and Kim Basinger. A few years later a TV movie with Kiefer Sutherland was made by Fox - a pilot for a 13-part miniseries which never materialized. Dang, now that I looked at the IMDB entries my visualizations of how I thought the characters looked are all messed up...

I also find out from that it's the third book in a four-part series called "L.A. Quartet". I suppose I'll have to check out the others now.