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Reviews Written by
Mr. Lewis J. Brooks (Yorkshire, England)

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The Dying Animal
The Dying Animal
by Philip Roth
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Inconsistent and not much fun. Admirable in certain ways though., 22 July 2009
This review is from: The Dying Animal (Paperback)
"The Dying Animal" served as my introduction to Roth simply because it was all my library had by him. It tells of an ageing professors struggles with love, sex and romance.

Firstly allow me an insignificant grumble. There are no chapters! May be a philistine point of no importance to anyone else but it annoys me as I always like to finish at the end of a chapter.

Anyway I began reading this with some hopeful optimism, initially I liked the first person narrative. However after a while it (or should I say he) began to wear on me.

Now I don't know if I'm just being thick here but I'm assuming one is suppose to like and agree with the central protagonist, perhaps not whole-heartedly on everything though. However what I found was that I despised him. He seems to want to justify his crusade of selfish hedonism as some kind of bill of rights thing, almost like its his moral duty as an American to disregard everyone else in pursuit of an orgasm. We're made to look down on those who sacrifice some individual negative freedoms (through marriage, parenting etc.) for the positive freedoms of their family, friends, children, partners etc., something which I find admirable rather than some show of weakness.

Maybe I've misunderstood Roth, maybe you aren't meant to agree with the central character but whatever the case I didn't enjoy that aspect and I can't really say otherwise.

Another thing that annoyed me is that he has Tarantino sydrome in which every character just speaks like the writer. Everyone speaks as if they're a NY intellectual who sits and prepares everything they will say in any given day the day before after considering its philosophical implications and literary allusions. So some of the stuff they come out with is just irritating and incredibly unnaturalistic.

Also some of the passages in which an old dude gushes about how amazing one of his students tits are or whatever, do not appeal to me. It didn't give any insight into the nature of lust or sexuality it was just boring and turgid. In addition his analysis of the 60's is inaccurate aswell as downright - and I hate to use this word - pretentious.

This is an example of a book which suffers from retrospection, while it may sound like I hated it, in truth I just find it difficult to say what's good about it. While I don't think this is a good book but it shouldn't necessarily be avoided, its short so if like me you didn't like it you won't waste too much time or effort. And most likely you'll enjoy more than I did anyway.

Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture
Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture
by Douglas Coupland
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Read it without your cynical hat on and you'll get a lot out of it., 12 July 2009
When I first heard the synopsis of Generation X i thought it could go one of two ways; it would be a thought provoking read or it would be self indulgent pretensious tripe. Hence I decided to get it out from my library rather than hand over money.

Today in the post-modern (or perhaps post-post-modern) age there is often a sceptical view in the intelligentsia of such subversive books, films or music. Kerouac, Salinger, Tom Wolfe, Hunter S Thompson are often being re-evaluated as immature, romanticised take on life which shouldn't be read beyond the age of 18. To them I say lighten up. They approach such culture focusing solely on what they assume is its stereotypical audience, and being scornful of beatniks, gen xers, hipsters etc. they miss out on some great books.

Generation X should just be taken as it is, ignore all the "Generation X" marketing that went on later. Coupland coined the phrase to suggest there was no proper identity to this generation. They are intelligent youths, in "McJobs" out of choice who have trouble articulating themselves. He creates strong characters who he seems to really understand and who one really cares for.

The Book takes a framed narrative in which the characters tell stories to one another, some of which are better than others. The subject and telling of the story reflects the character telling it which works brilliantly. There's plenty of humour and at no point does their political and spiritual beliefs seem half baked. While I may not agree with them their position does not seem one of fashion or anti-conformism. They really believe what they espouse and are very likeable as a consequence.

Reading this makes me very keen to read more of Coupland's work and to purchase a copy of this book for myself. It's excellent - read it.

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