Let's talk about books!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Or more accurately, let's talk about books & magazines & other printed things I've recently consumed

Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block
I feel that if I were seventeen closer to when these novels were published - late eighties to mid nineties - when perhaps they were really unique and original and fresh, I would have enjoyed them a lot more. I just sort of don't really understand these novels, or why people adore them with such intensity - what am I missing? How can I understand them? I think they were too brief for me - a strange sort of cross between short story and novel, though novella doesn't seem like the write word - and things resolved too quickly for my liking. There were parts where I thought the writing was really lovely and enchanting, but there were also parts where I was terribly confused. Some stories occur in a world closer to reality than others, it seemed, and I preferred those.

Animal Farm by George Orwell
Is very good.

After Dark by Haruki Murakami
This is the first Murakami novel I have read, and I can't say it really engaged me (I will probably read one of his more popular novels and see whether I have a different reaction). There were lovely moments, and I didn't mind the lack of action, but overall I just felt a sense of something missing. Maybe this is because I am used to a more traditional plot-driven novel, but it didn't even seem particularly character-driven, more based around a particular mood. I got the sense it would work better as a short story.

Love Story by Erich Segal
Look, I know lots of people really adore this novel (and the film, which I haven't seen) and it's short and sweet and everything, but I will say this very quietly so as not to offend you, but I didn't really like it. It was overly simplistic for my liking. But it's only a short novel, and if you are a romantic maybe you will like it.

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
I highly recommend this. Not a lot else needs to be said.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Right near the end of this novel, probably the end of the second to last chapter, I couldn't breathe properly for about five minutes and cried a bit (also it was in the early hours of the morning and I was quite tired and had just finished another round of revising my novel so perhaps that had something to do with it, too). And I feel this odd sort of guilt over being really affected by novels, as if I should perhaps be more critical. I'm not sure why. But there were sections of this book that I really loved and that were just magnificent and sections I found extremely disquieting and things I didn't really get. Overall, fairly brilliant.

Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
I didn't find Everything Is Illuminated quite as affecting, I think because of the stories set in the past felt so distant - rather than it being personally told, it was the great-grandson recounting events. Alexi was a great narrator, though. (And in terms of age-appropriateness, I wouldn't recommend either this or Foer's other novel to anyone younger than sixteen - obviously it depends on the reader, and I'm not generally one to say 'young people should not read this!' but some of the content, especially in Everything is Illuminated is fairly inappropriate for younger teenagers).

Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
This is another book that I feel I would have found more affecting had I read it when it first came out, when the whole 'rich and apathetic youths living morally disturbed lives' thing wasn't quite as cliché. I probably would have found it more shocking if I were growing up in the eighties or nineties. Twelve by Nick McDonnell actually strikes me as very, very similar to this novel, and I imagine McDonnell would've been fairly inspired by Ellis. (Similar to the last book, I wouldn't recommend this to anyone younger than about sixteen.) I'm going to read more Ellis novels, but this one just made me feel slightly uncomfortable more than anything. (Always when I am reading books that people I know love, I am terribly confused and feel like I am missing something.)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson
Just downright strange. I'm not sure I recommend it to anybody at all. And especially not young people. Maybe older people who lived through the sixties and were/are drug-addled would get it.

The Big Issue No. 388: Fiction Edition Special
Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. All such good stories, I cannot pick any favourites. I highly recommend you get your hands on a copy.

The Victorian Writer Sept-Oct 2011
There's a short little article by me in this magazine put out by the Victorian Writer's Centre (it's on the right side of page 13, and is called 'Month of Writing') this month! You should read it! There are also lots of other great articles & stories inside.


Would love to hear your thoughts on these novels (especially if you loved the ones I didn't like and can somehow explain to me what I'm missing...) (Also I would appreciate book recommendations! I need to read more!)
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