Posts tagged Interesting things I’ve read

“A Million Little Pieces” by James Frey

I read this book before it was exposed as containing significant doses of fiction. I was blown away by the raw power of the story and the spare, hard-hitting writing. It’s hard for me to say how much of that was because I thought it was true. Certainly that added something. When you believe the narrator really did have a root canal without anaesthetic, really was wanted in however many states, etc., it makes the whole thing much more visceral. The sad thing is that a lot of probably was… Read More

“The Color Purple” by Alice Walker

This is a deeply religious book, in a couple of different senses. First of all, the main character, Celie, narrates the book through letters she writes to God. She is trapped in abusive relationships, first with Pa and then with her husband Albert, referred to by her as Mr ______. She writes to God because she has nobody else to talk to after her sister Nettie disappears, believed dead. Gradually, through her relationship with Shug Avery and piecing together the truth about her past, she rids herself of the traditional… Read More

“A Pale View of Hills” by Kazuo Ishiguro

Most of this novel is memory: a woman thinking about her daughter’s suicide and remembering an earlier summer in post-War Nagasaki. Almost nothing happens in the present day. The whole story of A Pale View of Hills takes place in the past. And the story in the past is full of holes. At first this annoyed me but, the more I thought about it, the more I realised how true this is to the story as the woman would have thought about it. Not only are our memories full of… Read More

Franco Moretti on the Novel

Read a very interesting piece by Franco Moretti in New Left Review, July/August 2008. It seems like a synopsis of a much longer, multi-volume work on the theory of the novel, which I plan to read when I have time. Moretti talks about the theory of the novel by asking three surprising questions: Why are novels in prose? Why are they so often stories of adventures? Why was there a European, but not a Chinese, rise of the novel in the course of the 18th century? His point about prose… Read More

“Identity” by Milan Kundera

Warning: this review gives away the ending. There’s something intensely dissatisfying about stories that end “but it was all a dream and then she woke up.” Logically, I suppose there shouldn’t be. We accept that a story is made up, we accept that nothing is true, that it is all in effect a dream being dreamt onto the page by the author. But to have the characters dream for large parts of the book is beyond the pale. I felt cheated on reading it, as if I had wasted a… Read More