Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Best known for his classic “The Godfather”, “The Dark Arena” was Mario Puzo’s first novel and in my opinion, not a bad first novel at that. Set in the aftermath of World War II, during the occupation of a defeated Nazi Germany, the story centers around an American G.I. who can’t adjust to being home after the war and decides to go back to Germany to look for Hella, a woman he had been involved with, taking a job with the American occupation forces as a civilian employee. His intention is to make enough money to marry Hella and eventually bring her back to the United States but soon finds himself involved in the black market, now doing business with the very people he fought against during the war and finds himself slowly succumbing to its corrupting influences.
The influence of Hemingway is obvious, as I’m sure it was for many young writers coming of age in the post-war years. The style is straightforward, dark, with just this much intrigue to propel the story forward. Over all I found this to be a very interesting novel about the occupation of Germany after the war, not many of which had been written about as far as I know. To me, it captures the uncertainties of the war’s aftermath and all its grey areas. An enjoyable read over all.
Rating: * * * *
Monday, February 14, 2011
"Good novels are not written by orthodoxy-sniffers, nor by people who are conscience-stricken about their own orthodoxy. Good novels are written by people who are not frightened." --- George Orwell
Saturday, February 12, 2011
"Writing is not like painting where you add. It is not what you put on the canvas that the reader sees. Writing is more like a sculpture where you remove, you eliminate in order to make the work visible. Even those pages you remove somehow remain." -- Elie Wiesel
Friday, February 11, 2011
"Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade, just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself." -- Truman Capote
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Monday, February 7, 2011
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Outstanding! There’s no other word to describe this novel. 50 years old this year, it seemed as if it could have been written yesterday. It’s easy to see the influence the now 74 year old author (he was in his 20s when he wrote this) has had on many modern literary writers but many of them do not even come close to the inventiveness and originality of Pynchon. Naturally, this is probably not much of a surprise to anyone but this is the first time I’ve gotten around to finally reading one of his novels. What can I say? I’m a late bloomer.
“V” is a wild ride and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what kind of writer he is other than to say that he is a true original. At the time of its publication this novel must have shocked a lot of people. It is so far removed from anything that was going on at the time. The two simultaneous stories that are taking place here have their own flavor. The story line concerning the character “Benny Profane” is a little more in line with the times; a sort of “post-beat” flavor with it’s cast of pseudo-bohemians floundering around New York City; but it’s the story line concerning “Stencil” that I think shows the most originality and inventiveness. Eventually, these two stories come together to make a complete novel, centering around discovering the identity of “V”. It takes you through different---and obscure---events in 20th century history: South West Africa (now Namibia), Egypt, Paris, Malta....an incredible journey for sure; and the cast of characters couldn’t be more original and exciting.
If you haven’t read this novel, I highly suggest that you do. It is truly an original work and there still isn’t anything out there today that equals this in scope and inventiveness. It has quickly earned its place in my list of all time favorites.
Rating: * * * * *