I read my books, and here's what I think of them.
The story of a man who is so beautiful, upon seeing a portrait of himself he wishes that he could stay forever beautiful while the portrait ages. The portrait, aside from just aging, shows on it's canvas the man's sins in the expression on his face. I'm not quite sure exactly what the author was trying to say with this story. But he sure is long-winded. And quite homosexual. I'm sure he was saying something very profound, but I really don't know what it was. It's an engaging story of a man's ruin brought on by his own actions. He also manages to ruin the lives of everyone around him, except for the man he accuses of poisoning his mind with a book. I wonder if the book in question is a real book, or one he made up.
I had to skim parts that were just plain long-winded. There's a neverending bit about what the main character was doing, but it's all about things he learned, and it's all boring crap. There were also long theoretical dialogues that seemed to go on forever. That Oscar Wilde was certainly fond of his words.
I couldn't help but be reminded of Michael Jackson by this tale.
Vonnegut is a weird character. I honestly can't decide if I liked the book or not. The plot was delicious. The characters were slightly under-developed. But it's those satirical elements that I can't wrap my brain around. The yards of really bad poetry by the character Bokonon were really annoying by the end. I think the first-person style really hurt the character development.
Really, I don't know if I liked it or not. It was so weird, with the midget and the island republic and the local religion and... just ... I don't think I got it.
With regard to the plot, I was not disappointed. I had been disappointed many times recently by good plots gone awry, which is why I had turned to these time-honored authors. It was exactly how I wanted the plot to resolve. But the resolution of the religion was anticlimatic. At the beginning of the book, I had such hopes for a really bizarre conclusion to the religion. But all I got was mundanity.
I really loved that plot, though. One line in particular impressed the bejeebers out of me.The sky was filled with worms. The worms were tornadoes.
It's so subtle, but so indicative. It was the practical view of the end of the world, as seen by a man who knew it was coming. Maybe it just made an impression on me because I have lived with the threat of tornadoes most of my life. Anyway, that line was choice.
Still don't know if I liked the book or not.Crime and Punishment
is really amazing. Dostoevsky (yes I have to look to spell that right) knew the formula of taking a bad situation for the main character, and making it worse, and then coming up with a saviour when the reader thinks all is lost. I have never seen that formula applied so masterfully to a book that was not action/adventure type. It was like Les Miserables
, but happy and without a revolution. Which is only slightly ironic.
Also, I forgot to mention this earlier. On the inside cover of the book, the previous owner had written his name. Scott Fitzgerald. Amusing, no?
The one criticism I have is of the epilogue. I think it was unneccesary. I think the very ending should have been that the police officer observed he looked relieved, and end it there. I know he wanted to make the point that, in prison, the main character began to think of himself as the Napoleon type because he was free of the guilt that haunted him as a free man, but then realized his error. It just didn't work for me. Plus, we already knew he and Sonia were in love. Just didn't seem to be really neccesary.
Even though the main character was not sympathetic or likeable at all, throughout the entire book, I didn't want him to get arrested. I wanted him either to fall into madness completely, or confess of his own volition. And the suspense in getting him to that point was incredible.
Of course, I don't know if there were particularly beautiful passages, or stark descriptive words, because it was translated.
Mr. Scott Fitzgerald had apparently been a student. He hadn't, obviously, kept up with the class, but in the beginning of the book, there are scrawled notes. The kind a student makes when he really doesn't know what the teacher is going to ask. "Agoraphobia?" "recurring theme (avoidance)" and "Why is he sneaking around, avoiding people?" Makes me realize how reading a book for school can remove all the suspense and mystery the author creates. Had he read it for pleasure, he would have come to the conclusion at the end of chapter 1 that "this guy is up to something, I'd better read on to find out what!" But instead, he had to note the details of the character's actions and state of mind; details which would become so apparent throughout the book that it was meaningless to note them all in chapter 1. This particular edition was published in 1994. I hope, now, that Mr. Fitzgerald remembers the story, and not the notes he took.
A common weakness in all of these books is that they all seem very intent on bringing up the importance of written works. My opinion is that this sort of desperation is vain on the part of the author. Common wisdom is "write what you know", but I'm rather tired of hearing how important a writer is, or how some author is yet again beset by adventures.
Know what else I hate? I hate the phrase "living rock".
These books, though, were way better than the tripe I'd been reading lately. Go me!