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A Handful of Dust (Penguin Modern Classics)
A Handful of Dust (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Evelyn Waugh
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And that dust is golden, 27 Nov 2002
Waugh was a wine critic with no equal. He is a satirist with no equal. His eye for social detail could not be crisper, his tongue could not be sharper. At times he will have you writhing with laughter; at times he will have you crying in pain.
As with much of Waugh's work his own life is a weighty influence. What distinguishes this novel from his earlier work is the heavy undercurrent that permeates thoughout. The title of the work is taken from T.S. Eliot's seminal modernist work 'The Waste Land', and that is precisely what Waugh sets out to describe. Although the humour follows on through Waugh's work, this is not the light-hearted jaunt through English polite society of 'Vile Bodies'. On occasion 'A Handful of Dust' is dark and damning.
That said, the work is highly amusing in places. Such a marriage of humour and despair might seem improbable if not impossible. It would be for rank-and-file satirists. Waugh is a class apart.

The Great Gatsby (Penguin Popular Classics)
The Great Gatsby (Penguin Popular Classics)
by F Scott Fitzgerald
Edition: Paperback

60 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A green light to go and read this novel, 25 Nov 2002
'Gatsby' is the American Dream; but more than that, 'Gatsby' is about dreaming. It is an incredibly concise novel of lyrical genius. It is poetry and social commentary. A work of art and a historical document. A light breeze through the jazz age and a complex layering of narrative perspectives. A hedonistic trip through gloriously decadent capitalist excess and a crushingly melancholic musing on lost love.
If you're a romantic read this because Fitzgerald's employment of prose will make you weep.
If you're an english student read this because it will tell you everything you need to know about the influence of cinema.
If you're a historian read this for the way Fitzgerald doctors his text to avoid censorship laws in 1925.
If you're a social scientist read this because it has only one equal in its study of the illusion of American idealism. Alexis de Tocqueville's 'Democracy in America' is 100 years older, 250 pages longer, and not written in melting prose.
That is not to say that this work is without fault. Crucially for anyone who is compelled to regard such things in a novel that doesn't warrant it, the logic of Carraway's narrative does not follow. Fitzgerald originally wrote what now constitues the ending to sit at the front of the novel, and in its new-found position Carraway has access to information that in reality he would not have. This, as might be apparent, is the criticism of a man who was forced to read the work at A-Level.
Strangely, this has not diminuished from his continued enjoyment. Indeed, even after numerous returns to Fitzgerald's astonishingly few pages this is the single fault I find in this work.
Daisy will make you want to love. Tom will make you want to earn millions. Gatsby will make you want to dream.
Read it first as a fantastically crafted story, second as an insightful social commentary, and third as a work of perspective genius. Read it because you haven't already. It is as brilliant as that green light.

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