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Pussycat Niffums (Brighton, England.)

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The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
by David Wroblewski
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Maudlin, overblown, and really badly written, 11 Mar 2010
I bought this book originally on revisionist terms for its re-telling of one of the greatest plays ever written. Any book that claims to revise Shakespeare's tragic opus needs to live up to the wild ambition of its thesis. This novel does not deliver.
For a starter its allusions to Hamlet are minimal and so conspicious as to warrant a feeling of incredulity, the names are 'expertly' updated for modern times. Claudius becomes Claude and Getrude becomes Trudy, etc.
The characterisation is wooden and one-dimensional, the narrative hugely overblown, pompous and sounds with the nostalgic clarity of a sentimental drunk reminiscing on 'old times.' Wrobelski's writing is infused with comma's and the style is so repetitive, so formulaic, that it began to really irritate me.
There is an ommison of oedipal tensions and the supernatural and all the time I am asking myself whether this man is flogging his sales behind the worlds greatest play or whether he genuinely believes he holds a torch to Shakespeare?
The themes of the novel are so large and warm and lovely they made me feel sick. I could almost feel Wrobelski's writing classes and prose-style books leadenly clamping their way into his narrative.
It was awful. Just awful.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 13, 2011 5:30 AM BST


The Yiddish Policemen's Union
The Yiddish Policemen's Union
by Michael Chabon
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Esoteric tedium., 30 Nov 2009
This novel, much like its author, was as frustrating as it was annoying. I previously read Kavalier and Clay and enjoyed it, although thought it in no way warranted the praise, hype and awards it won. The Yiddish Policeman's Union, however, is in many ways a stepback for Chabon.

I found the plot to be overblown and messy. Chabon gets too muffled between attempting kooky, clever passages, and introducing huge, grand themes about the human condition in the last third of the book.
The writing does rely heavily on metaphor and the imagery is repeated with such regularity that I began to feel apathetic; his relentless description of what the characters are wearing will always encompass a description of the eyes and a necktie and colours are always given compound similies, for instance... 'the sky was gunmetal black,' or '... coffe-brown suede.' This gets really annoying after a while as his writing style becomes incredibly predictable.
The characterisation is possibly the only redeeming feature of the book, although, as with Kavalier and Clay, the male characters are far too emotional and teary, and a rather aggresive drinking problem gets dropped and beaten without explanation halfway through.

The esoteric nature of the novel largely comes from just how Jewish this book is. I was aware of the motifs throughout the novel without repeatedly having to read about the self-defferential piety (or lackof) in the characters, or the myriad indecipherable Jewish words that make some passages simply incoherent.

However, the most annoying aspect of this book, is the voice of the narrator. It's incredibly haughty and knowing. Far too clever and trying too hard. I was pleased when it was done so I could read something else and get rid of the smug and self-satisfied tone of the narration.
If you want good Jewish literature read Philip Roth, a man whose novels don't read like a lecture or the gibberish babbling of a self-obsessed raconteur.


Brethren (The Brethren Trilogy)
Brethren (The Brethren Trilogy)
by Robyn Young
Edition: Paperback

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Far, far, far too long., 3 July 2009
It's true, at 670 pages this book seems to think it's something it isn't. Novels of this length are usually intended to carry some moral and artistic weight, Delillo's 'Underworld' for instance, or Maugham's 'Of Human Bondage,' both of which contain a similar amount of pages. Of course I knew that 'Brethren' wouldn't be comparable or even in the same league but for a novel with limited action, overblown sentences, poor scope of vocabulary and badly manufactured characters this is so long I thought at one point it would be impossible to finish.
At one particular point the violence was almost grotesque to the level of the ridiculous and I must say I don't know who to dislike more, the author, or her editor.
Stay clear of this one unless you would like to experience a plane of ennui incomparable to anything you may have experienced before. A poor, overblown piece of "literature."


The Body Artist
The Body Artist
by Don DeLillo
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.56

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ambigious Nonsense, 17 Mar 2009
This review is from: The Body Artist (Paperback)
I found this novella extremely irritating.
Following his epic 'Underworld' which notches up some 827 pages, Mr Delilo could be forgiven for wanting to invest his time in something a little more low-key and approachable. However much I wanted to enjoy this little book I just found it impossible to digest the meanings and implications buried beneath page upon page of rambling medatations on perception, the human ability to understand and transcend time, and the logistics of sanity following the bereavment of a loved one. Put it this way, if Lauren Hartke (the novella's protaganist) was writing this review Delillo would write something like this; 'She wrote a review. Except she wasn't writing a review. She was doing that thing when you think you're writing a review but you're actually not and this is what she thought. she thought it because this is how you think. that you might not be writing a review. Even though you are...... etc. etc. blah blah blah. He seems incapable of forming clear coherent sentences in this book, perhaps fatigued by the effort of his former masterpiece. The most shocking indictment on the whole is that I devoured the enormous 'Underworld' in minimal time but actually struggled laboriously to complete 'The Body Artist' and its 124 pages.


Outer Dark
Outer Dark
by Cormac McCarthy
Edition: Paperback

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Mccarthy's most accessible novels. A stunning read., 8 Oct 2008
This review is from: Outer Dark (Paperback)
Mccarthy's language and control of pace are of the highest quality even in this, his second novel. The tale is an allegorical one of consequence, guilt and fate concerning a brother, Culla, and his sister who bears his son at the novels beginning. Culla takes the baby as his sister recovers and leaves it in a forest glade before returning, claiming it had died and been buried. In the meantime a tinker has chanced upon the boy and taken it. When Cullas lie is promptly found he disappears into the appalchian expanse in search of work while his sister tries to track down the tinker.
His sister receives momentus fortune and good-will on her travels while her brother, for his sins, comes across terrible ill-fortune, being suspected of crimes and prompting a hog riot and chancing across many characters who later come to regret meeting him. All the while three savage characters are roaming the land killing and hanging men who have recently strayed across Cullas path.
The prose is haunting and subtly gorgeous and the dialogue is truly brilliant. The book is open to interpretation and I wisely recommend you tackle this before his magnum opus, Blood Meridian. A classic book from, in my opinion, the greatest living American writer.


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