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David Stoyle (Antibes, France)

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And Quiet Flows the Don (Vintage International)
And Quiet Flows the Don (Vintage International)
by Mikhail Aleksan Sholokhov
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hardy meets Trotsky, 30 Jun 2009
There is a great opening - a little like Thomas Hardy. The book divides into four sections - "Peace", "War", "Revolution", "Civil War". The first two are the best, as they develop characters and incidents. "Revolution" is quite abstract, with heavy political discussions along the Lenninist line. The final chapter brings us back to the Don, and is more engaging.

I was struck by the brutality of the peasants in these pages. A far cry from the later Soviet idealisation of the workers and labourers.

Sholokov is at his best describing nature, country folk, and war. He is least convincing in the political discussions and debates, which endanger the book's rhythm. But even with this identified weakness, I still class this as a truly great book.


Save Me The Waltz (Vintage Classics)
Save Me The Waltz (Vintage Classics)
by Zelda Fitzgerald
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who would dare to edit her?, 15 Jun 2009
Before I read this book, I only knew two things about Zelda: she was married to F Scott Fitzgerald, and she spent years in a mental home. So it was quite a surprise to see just what a brilliant and funny woman she was.
In her novel, "Save Me the Waltz", she writes with a hasty, confused style. She lingers over descriptions of flowers, then scurries past the key facts with barely a glance. She stuffs sentences with two, three, or even four metaphors at a go. It's a kind of literary bulimia. She loves to take a phrase and then reverse it to see what comes out. She invents words that we can sort of decipher from their roots or their context. She animates the inanimate so that cities, clouds, roads and trains all act consciously in her universe. For example, she tells us that "the sun... bruised itself on the clotted cotton fields". And yet there is something incredibly new and vital about her style. Its a frantic journey to pretty much nowhere in the end, but there is something wonderful about clinging on to her imagination for the ride. What this book seems to lack is any editing - but we can read her character through its lines, and it is quite likely that editing her would be tough.


Super-Cannes
Super-Cannes
by J. G. Ballard
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Dark Side of the Sun?, 10 Jun 2009
This review is from: Super-Cannes (Hardcover)
Whenever Ballard gets near paradise, something goes wrong. Here he takes us to the South of France, and a multi-national science park with top executives, sunshine, and security. His characters live in a kind of compound where everything is organised to make them happy and efficient. But where some would want to make a social or political critique, Ballard goes straight to the core of human frailty and shows us desensitisation; perversion, and murder. This book is a dark vision. How far his readers will follow him is an open question, but this remains a fine piece of work.


The Collected Writings of Zelda Fitzgerald
The Collected Writings of Zelda Fitzgerald
by Zelda Fitzgerald
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Raw talent?, 10 Jun 2009
Before I read this book, I only knew two things about Zelda: she was married to F Scott Fitzgerald, and she spent years in a mental home. So it was quite a surprise to see just what a brilliant and funny woman she was.
In her novel, "Save Me the Waltz", she writes with a hasty, confused style. She lingers over descriptions of flowers, then scurries past the key facts with barely a glance. She stuffs sentences with two, three, or even four metaphors at a go. It's a kind of literary bulimia. She loves to take a phrase and then reverse it to see what comes out. She invents words that we can sort of decipher from their roots or their context. She animates the inanimate so that cities, clouds, roads and trains all act consciously in her universe. For example, she tells us that "the sun... bruised itself on the clotted cotton fields". And yet there is something incredibly new and vital about her style. Its a frantic journey to pretty much nowhere in the end, but there is something wonderful about clinging on to her imagination for the ride. What this book seems to lack is any editing - but we can read her character through its lines, and it is quite likely that editing her would be tough.
For the rest of her works, the letters to Scott are painfully beautiful. Through the fighting, alcohol, and infidelity, comes a steady voice of pain, of adoration, and of isolation.


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