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Carol A. (UK)

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A Clockwork Orange (Penguin Essentials)
A Clockwork Orange (Penguin Essentials)
by Anthony Burgess
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.61

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Style vs content, 28 Jun. 2013
Striking a balance between prose and narrative is an undeniable art - and an art that has been hindered many potential greats. Joyce was undoubtedly one of the greatest architects of the written word, but his stories suffered from a lack of direction and purpose. Likewise, mainstream writers that are often slated by book lovers as poor writers are great at crafting a narrative - which brings me to Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange. Though Burgess had an interesting premise and a "Message" with CO, personally, I was put off by the "Droog Speech" - perhaps so much so that I could't really connect with the story; and though this may make me "Shallow," or a "Philistine," no-one can deny the importance of the prose vs narrative balance and its effect on a reader.


Fight Club
Fight Club
by Chuck Palahniuk
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The written word vs. the silver screen, 22 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Fight Club (Paperback)
The battle between literature and cinema is one fought by the audience. Hollywood is always eager to scour the best-sellers lists for the next potential silver-screen remake, and, like-wise, the dream of many authors is a television or cinematic adaptation of their work. The only real dispute comes from bookworms and movie-goers; the latter claiming that "Books are boring," while the former defending the written as sacred. Personally, the admitted-bookworm that I am, I believe a big-screen adaptation, if done well, can be every bit as worthy as a novel - which brings me to Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club. Fight Club is among a small stable of written works that can claim its Hollywood remake is as good, if not better, in some respects, as the novel - and this confuses and infuriates the average reader, making analysis, and debate, somewhat difficult. For a work of art to have any validity it must stand alone. And having read Fight Club, the novel, and then watched Fight Club, the movie, I truly believe those who have watched the movie beforehand will gain very little from reading the book. However, if you have yet to see the movie, and prefer the written word, Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club remains a fantastic piece of work; original, funny, insightful, truly one of the great post-modern novels.


The Rum Diary (Bloomsbury Classic Reads)
The Rum Diary (Bloomsbury Classic Reads)
by Hunter S. Thompson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overshadowed, 16 Jun. 2013
In literature "The drunk" and "The drinker" are often romanticised. Hemingway, Bukowski, Capote, Poe; these authors as well as countless others are remembered for their hard-drinking, hard-living lifestyles almost as much as their written works. And among these hard-drinking, hard-living authors there are few with lives of excess so well documented as Hunter S. Thompson. Thompson is often praised as the father of the modern "Live-it-and-write-it" novel. He is also criticised as a writer that never truly lived up to his potential. His seminal work, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, was such a culturally-defining piece that all that was to follow just didn't measure up. And so where The Rum Diary would be considered a "Classic" had it been written by another author, it is constantly overshadowed by Thompson's colossus, Fear and Loathing.


Trainspotting
Trainspotting
by Irvine Welsh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, but difficult, 15 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Trainspotting (Paperback)
Regionalism is one of the aspects of literature I most enjoy. Hearing life from another perspective is surely where the written word excels over mediums such as television and cinema. However, there are times when regionalism can alienate a reader, and Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting is a prime example of this. The phonetic style of Welsh's prose was something I simply couldn't overcome whilst reading Trainspotting. The heavy accents and slang were just too overbearing for my taste. Of course, Trainspotting is not without merit. It is still a fascinating insight into drug addiction, but, if you're like me, the written style may put the average reader off this supposed-classic.


Junky: The Definitive Text of 'Junk' (Penguin Modern Classics)
Junky: The Definitive Text of 'Junk' (Penguin Modern Classics)
by William S Burroughs
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.34

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating document of addiction, 15 Jun. 2013
How a person feels about addiction usually places them politically. For example, the average Lefty tends to have a more sympathetic view of addicts, and addiction, while those of the Right tend to think addiction is a myth, and self-inflicted. Personally, I lie somewhere between these two poles. And having read many novels, both fiction and non-fiction, on the subject of addiction, I still find it difficult to completely relate to a protagonist that is so wholly selfish and self-destructive. Of course, I understand that an addict isn't entirely themselves, but their narcissistic lifestyle still makes it hard to really to connect with them. Having said this, addiction remains a fascinating subject, and Junky remains a fascinating and well-written document of an addict.


Midnight's Children
Midnight's Children
by Salman Rushdie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Contains more than a novel three times its size, 15 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Midnight's Children (Paperback)
In previous reviews, I have commented on the difficulty of accurately judging a novel over a certain length. And though Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children is not as long as, say, Infinite Jest, it certainly feels much longer than it is. And that is not necessarily a criticism. Midnight's Children is simply very, very dense - perhaps the most dense novel I have ever read. There are so many characters, back-stories, side-notes, parallels and metaphors crammed into so small a space that MC holds more than a novel three times its size. And, yes, at times this can make Midnight's Children difficult, or even exhausting, but, it also makes MC one of the most original and rewarding novels you are ever likely to read.


The Old Man and the Sea
The Old Man and the Sea
by Ernest Hemingway
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.89

3.0 out of 5 stars Great expectations, 15 Jun. 2013
The pressure to enjoy certain novels has long been a curse hanging over the world of literature. If a reader does not enjoy David Copperfield, or Ulysses, or The Brothers Karamazov, then he/she can expect to be labelled dense or a philistine by his/her peers. This unspoken pressure made accurately judging Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea somewhat difficult. Reading TOMATS, I couldn't help but feel the eyes of literary expectation watching; and for this reason if no other I couldn't really engage with Hemingway's novella. The parallels between the elderly fisherman who is believed cursed and Hemingway, then in the twilight of his career, are obvious. But this wasn't quite enough to keep me involved in a rather slow and ponderous tale of decline.


Cocaine Nights
Cocaine Nights
by J. G. Ballard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, but unsettling, 9 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Cocaine Nights (Paperback)
There are certain novels that are rated so highly that eventually the average bookworm feels obliged to read them. JG Ballard's Cocaine Nights is one such novel; and, personally, I wonder whether CN deserves its status as a "Classic." The plot is certainly intriguing, but Ballard himself is an average writer, and I found myself unsettled by his views on the world. Cocaine Nights is worth a read for the compelling mystery/thriller plot, but it shouldn't be taken too seriously.


Infinite Jest
Infinite Jest
by David Foster Wallace
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.33

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If you have the time, and patience..., 9 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Infinite Jest (Paperback)
Novels that pass a certain length are always difficult to review. At around 600-or-so pages the brain tends to detach to a certain degree and absorb what follows, rather than understand or enjoy it. Ulysses; War and Peace; The Brothers Karamazov; these are novels I struggled through and then found myself wondering whether I actually liked them, or even gained anything at all from them. This makes reviewing David Foster Wallace's epic Infinite Jest somewhat difficult. Sitting here now, I can't honestly say whether I would recommend IJ. It is undeniably original, and Wallace's skills as a writer cannot be disputed, but at around 1000 pages, and with an abrupt ending, the casual reader will be left feeling disorientated by Infinite Jest. You should read only if you have time and patience.


The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
by John Boyne
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.44

4.0 out of 5 stars A child's eye, 9 Jun. 2013
A child's view of the world is a refreshing thing. A child sees life in two dimensions, cutting through the pretence and absurdity with an honest eye; and it was this honesty that made The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas so intriguing to me. TBINSP takes a child's innocence and applies it to one of history's saddest and most horrific periods. And to hear about Nazi Germany and the Holocaust from a child's point of view actually made an admittedly much-documented subject in literature seem fresh, and hard-hitting, again - not to mention touching.


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