Monday, November 12, 2012

Metamorphosis 13 - James Joyce's Ulysses


I'll tell you one thing right now, this is not an easy book to read. He shifts from straight narrative to fantasy to dry technical writing to stream of consciousness. And it's a thousand pages long, describing a day in the life of a man in Dublin in 1904. I have to admit, I passed over a lot of it because it was a library book and I only had it for so long, and some of it is just obscure, especially nearly a hundred years after it was written. Joyce enjoys making up words although they make perfect sense.

But there is true genius as well. Some of his turns of phrase are amazing, and hilarious. It was banned for obscenity in the US after it was first published as there are some explicit passages, although pretty tame by today's standards.

Read it if you enjoy a long novel, and I hope you enjoy getting to know Leopold and Molly as much as I did.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Metamorphosis 12 - The Tin Drum


Wow, i'm really getting behind! The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass was a pleasant surprise. Who knew that a novel beginning with a Polish peasant girl harvesting potatoes would turn out to be so engrossing...

In this partially autobiographical story, our protagonist Oskar is growing up during the war in a city which is on the border, geographically and politically, between Germany and Poland. He's not always a likable person, but in the end we are hoping for the best for him.

The edition I read was from a new translation... apparently when it was originally translated from German back in the 50s, they took out some of the more naughty bits, although what's been put back in is really pretty tame by today's standards.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Metamorphosis 11

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson - kind of reminded me of some of the stories written by my cousin Merna Summers - a Canadian author you should definitely check out sometime. Two sisters growing up in a small town with eccentric relatives... it also reminded me of The Quiet American with its theme of loss, parting, giving up your old way of life. Both books left me with the sense that I wanted to see what happened to those people after the book ended... sadly, I don't think either has a sequel. Or maybe it's just better that way. :-)

Metamorphosis 10

The Quiet American by Graham Greene was a bit of an odd book, but I ended up enjoying it quite a bit. It takes place in Vietnam during the 1950s. The protagonist is a British journalist who is there to cover the war, which at that time is being fought by the French and the Communists. The Americans are still bystanders at that point, and the "quiet American" referred to in the title becomes the narrator's rival in many things and is an eerie foreshadowing of what we all know came later.

Wow, I need to catch up!

OK, I've read quite a few books and again got sidetracked from my 100 must-read quest by other fiction. But I've found a new author I quite like. Louise Penny is a Canadian writer who has penned several Inspector Gamache mysteries... think of Agatha Christie transferred to a village in Quebec in modern times. Check it out!