Unfinished at the time of his death, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon is a story of doomed love set against the extravagance of America’s booming film industry. The studio lot looks like ‘thirty acres of fairyland’ the night that a mysterious woman stands and smiles at Monroe Stahr, the last of the great Hollywood princes. Enchanted by one another, they begin a passionate but hopeless love affair, starting with a fast-moving seduction as slick as a scene from one of Stahr’s pictures. The romance unfolds, frame by frame, watched by Cecilia, a thoroughly modern girl who has taken her lessons in sentiment and cynicism from all the movies she has seen. Her buoyant humor and satirical eye perfectly complement Fitzgerald’s panorama of Hollywood at its most lavish and bewitching.
For those who enjoy Magical Realism, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of the biggest names out there. Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, he is undoubtedly one of the best stylists of this century. His prose is beautiful, his stories weave a mesmerizing and intricate web of situations and characters, and his settings are spectacular.
The Autumn of the Patriarch, the author’s favorite novel, is the story of lonely dictator, a grotesque character surrounded by enemies. He’s forced to political maneuvers and assassination to ensure his control over the state, and at one point, the population starts to view him as being immortal.
It is estimated that some three million people died in the Soviet forced-labour camps of Kolyma, in the northeastern area of Siberia. Shalamov himself spent seventeen years there, and in these stories he vividly captures the lives of ordinary people caught up in terrible circumstances, whose hopes and plans extended to further than a few hours.
Feeling depressed? Feeling as if life’s unfair? Hard? People are mean? Read Kolyma Tales. That should make you feel better.
Don’t believe me?
“The men were not shown the thermometer, but that wasn’t necessary since they had to work in any weather. Besides, longtime residents of Kolyma could determine the weather precisely even without a thermometer: if there was frosty fog, that meant the temperature outside was forty degrees below zero; if you exhaled easily but in a rasping fashion, it was fifty degrees below zero; if there was a rasping and it was difficult to breathe, it was sixty degrees below; after sixty degrees below zero, spit froze in mid-air. Spit had been freezing in mid-air for two weeks.”
Without a doubt Chuck Palahniuk is the literary equivalent of a method actor. He meticulously researches his books.
But this novel is different. This one’s about the artistic process, one I think this author is both familiar with and also terribly good at explaining it.
Diary is the story of Misty Wilmot, a waitress. Yeah, she was once a promising painter, but now she’s just there, not dead yet, but not quite alive either. But when her husband tries to kill himself (and fails), she finds out that she hasn’t yet lost her talent. That’s basically the premise of this story. More or less. Yeah, there’s a plot twist towards the end, ’cause that’s Chuck’s specialty. And yeah, we’ve got strange characters doing strange things in a strange world. Continue reading “Book Review: Diary by Chuck Palahniuk”→
Even though I wrote an article on why this novel is so difficult to adapt into a movie, I didn’t review the novel. It’s time to do just that now.
Few novels have exerted such a tremendous influence on me. Frank Herbert’s masterpiece, and undeniably one of the very best SciFi novels ever written, takes a life of its own over the span of the first few pages.
The universe the story is set in is complex — a vast intergalactic empire working as an intricate mechanism, a lasting feud, and all the treacherous games that are a part of the never ending struggle for power among the powerful. Continue reading “Book Review: Dune by Frank Herbert”→
“It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.”
It takes a special kind of humor to make me laugh. This is that special kind. Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman make a fantastic team, and their humor is music to my soul. Even though I loved almost every word they put to paper, I am still aware of the fact that this book might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Especially those who take themselves and the world around them way too seriously. Which is like 90% of the people on the Internet these days.
“Over the years Crowley had found it increasingly difficult to find anything demonic to do which showed up against the natural background of generalized nastiness. There had been times, over the past millennium, when he’d felt like sending a message back Below saying, Look we may as well give up right now, we might as well shut down Dis and Pandemonium and everywhere and move up here, there’s nothing we can do to them that they don’t do to themselves and they do things we’ve never even thought of, often involving electrodes. They’ve got what we lack. They’ve got imagination. And electricity, of course. One of them had written it, hadn’t he…”Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.” …”
Neil Gaiman is one of the most impressive contemporary writers. Why? Because he did all he wanted to do? He wrote a bunch of fantastic novels, comics, even scripts. He is the mastermind behind one of the most amazing novels ever written, American Gods. Even the TV Show is great.
When it comes to things that have a price tag attached to them, literature being no exception, there are certain trends that come and go. In commercial fiction, this trend might be vampires one day and zombies the other. In “real fiction”; what some people call literary fiction, there’s the trend of the autobiographical novel. Part fiction, part truth, these novels appeal to most of the best young novelists out there.