Something to Answer For
Twelve mighty steps towards the inviolable, hazy-crazy mystical
mountain peaks of genius. The great master of the concise phrase
and the upturned, zombiefied character is back with the most shuddering,
moth-scream of a novel I've read in the years since my divorce.
The Elected Member
The glottal gasps of my own feeble night-time cries for tenderness
may go unrequited for many raw years to come, but I know, when
there is no one left for me, still I will always nuzzle the distant
and gentle beat from the sleepless heart of Bernice Rubens.
In A Free State
The terrible, low-rider, leather jacketed and switchbladed violent
prose of VS Naipaul has never been so sharply put to use as it
is here, in "In A Free State", a novel so audacious,
funny, and deviant, that a mockery of Christ himself never saw
so many eyes aboggle.
The inscription from my copy of this book says it all, "Lee,
I think you'll really love this book, which breaks my heart. As
you read through, you'll see I've written my own notes in the
margins, which explain why, besides you being full of shit, I
find you such a total failure, not just in our home-life, but
generally in life as well, and then I go on to explain, in the
later and extremely suspenseful final chapters, why I think that
our relationship should end here, once we've both read G."
J G Farrell
The Siege of Krishnapur
An unexpected wow-a-minute page-turner for an abstruse historical
epic. Has all the charms of Kafka, but without the bureaucratic
A roving and unblinking eye on the conceptually idealized space
of a once distant planet of human honesty. If books could kill,
I'd use this one on my ex.
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Heat & Dust
Somehow Jhabvala straddles the parrallel bars of absurdity and
moral righteousness without tearing herself a new asshole.
My rekindled thirst for acceptance among that elusive breed of
steely-eyed young women who prefer tight black turtleneck sweaters
and tapas, has sent me down some pretty godawful blind alleys
and crackhouse cul-de-sacs, but no one has succeeded in pulling
me out of a den of my own self-loathing crapulence like David
Life's rich pageant has never looked so gay and inviting as it
does here. In Scott's words, a plum becomes plumage, and a brill
The Sea, The Sea
When you've looked out the window for so many hours knowing that
you are too afraid to step out the door and actually face the
life you tried to stop from hurtling so terribly close to ruin,
but could not stop, then take refuge in the truths that Murdoch
carries like laudanum in her prose.
Quiet, dense, almost preciously xylographic.
Rites of Passage
Worth the stress and irate phone calls from lawyers demanding
that the money spent on this book should have gone towards the
defaulted alimony payments. To know that just one frightwig of
a novel, as this one surely is, can upend a life, is praise enough.
A book for all children who know they are loved by someone, somewhere,
at all times, even if it doesn't seem like it at the moment, what
with all the fighting and guilt-traps and deadly compromises that
must be made in order for a child to be raised properly.
A nightmare swaddled in the hoary fabric of horror. The shrill
blade of reason cuts so deep it cuts right through and just leaves
you an amputee, after you've read this book.
Life & Times of Michael K
I enjoyed the part where he was put in the labor camp, I thought
that part was well-written to the extreme.
Hotel du Lac
An azure splash of pure ecstatic and chlorinated peace on the
dry blood-caked sands of our violent times. As prosaic and penumbrous
as Pynchon, but shot through with the hilarity and hedonism of
The Bone People
I recall the scene in "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and
Her Lover", when the guy shoves the love letters down the
other guy's throat with a letter opener and the way I gagged then,
as if it were me there, dying from the torture of infidelity's
words, and I regret now, looking back, my own actions, which brought
me to read the book you left behind inside an old purse in the
closet: The impressive, all-too-rare power of Keri Hulme's "The
The Old Devils
A mordant, kite-wheeling, wind bluster of a novel, that speaks
as much to our treasonous and mendacious times as it does to other
things. I was instantly captured by the blazing descriptions of
streets, and Amis succeeded in keeping my eyes crazy-glued to
the pages by dint of his mordant characters and their blustery
Move over Dante, because this inferno is burning down the door.
Like twelve roaring furnaces stoked with the bones and teeth of
writers not half as witty or mordant as Penelope Lively, this
novel is hell-in-a-handbasket good. And by the way, I am not envious
of your new life, so please stop leaving messages on my answering
machine blaming my jealousies and insecurities for why you had
to leave me. Because that is just total bullshit.
Oscar & Lucinda
Only pure whimsy and deadly cowboy style aim could have made Carey's
novel as incredible as it is. There is not a whiff of obligation
or hard work in Carey's lightspeed prose, and never for a moment
a glimmering of that shameful act we call careerism. Here, people,
is a novel that doubles as art. As good as Nabokov, only better.
The Remains of the Day
Another favorite book of my ex-wife, who, when after her father
was cremated, told me she'd rather talk in private with the novels
of Ishiguro, I took to mean that I could not communicate as deeply,
as somberly, or as wisely, as a man she knew only through his
fictions. Terrible, albeit, flattering praise for the kind of
writer she believes I won't ever, ever become.
I read it in university just after a book by Jane Austen, the
title of which I forget at the moment, and although I preferred
the Austen book, this one was also quite well-written, especially
considering it had so many words and a lot of them were in italics.
Kudos to Byatt for upstaging her sister once again, and proving
a whole generation of feckless Brits that sibling rivalry is not
a thing of the past.
The Famished Road
The English Patient
A harrowing, scurrilous mind-warp, like a fleet of blazing on
fire Trojan horses sneaking loudly through the sleeping ear of
expectation, damaging only the sensibilities of the naive, the
claustrophobic, and the explicitly weak. On the withering branch
of literature a new green, wet bud has appeared, screaming.
His best novel, by a long shot.
1993 Roddy Doyle
Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
Don't laugh, for this humor carries with it the stick of all-out
war. War on the foundations of know-how.
How Late It Was, How Late
Written under the stupor of genius.
The Ghost Road
Boo-ya! With "The Ghost Road" Pat Barker has given us
a novel with all the awesome great comebacks I wish I'd been agile
and lucid enough to use when I'd needed them most, i.e. back in
November when she finally announced she was remarrying, and this
time to, of all things, a former Booker prize nominee who she'd
met at a fucking fundraiser for literacy. And she tells me this
over the phone, from an airport, because she's leaving right this
instant to meet him in Marseille where they're filming a TV movie
based on one of his other books, and it's like 2 in the afternoon
and I'm still in my robe and I haven't shaved in like five days
and there's a pimple on my back that's so big I have a headache
from it. Fucking hell.
Who really gives a shit? I mean really? A reworking of Faulkner's
"As I Lay Dying"? I mean come on. Fucking hell.
The God of Small Things
This book is totally totally amazing. I think it's my favorite
book ever. I really love this book. It's a great book for me,
because I'm single, and I understand that Roy is also still single,
and I feel like if Roy and I ever met we would really hit it off
big-time, because I can tell we already have so much in common,
and if things worked out between us, I would treat her so good,
and support her artistically, and even financially, if I had to,
because I believe in her writing, and because she's so very beautiful,
and not just on the skin, but also under the skin she's beautiful.
I think it would be really really great if we at least became
friends, and then we could wait and just see what happens. You
know, let the chips fall where they may, sexually speaking.
The only time I visited Amsterdam I actually fell into a bush
I was so stoned. And I was afraid of the prostitutes, by the way,
who looked like they would want to stick their fingers up my ass
until my tongue popped out my mouth. They looked evil in the ways
of sexual know-how, and I couldn't even really look at them, because
of the terror I felt in my heart.
A little dark-blue monster of melancholy and regret, hiding behind
its own leather wings like a bat, too gentle and mournful to even
dive down from it's perch among the stalactites and nestle its
poison-tipped teeth into your mind; and yet you succumb to its
enchantments anyway, giving yourself like a slut to the charms
of its skill, like you always do, you slut. Not specifically this
book, but in general. Oh, god, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say
any of that. It's just sometimes I feel so wounded I need to lash
The Blind Assassin
Dangerously, deceptively, and elusively nice. A virtuosic work
like a million wasps buzzing the notes of a violent, apocalyptic
guitar solo, like that awesome solo in the middle of Slayer's
song 'War Ensemble' or something to that effect, but I kind of
imagine it with more really high pitched squealing high-notes
that go on and on audaciously, and obviously a bit of a film noir
edge added to that, and some references to academia. But in a
True History of the Kelly Gang
The lonesome orange dunes of time look fondly on the solitary
man who is seen by some as a criminal and others as a hero, and
by and by, no matter who is right and who is wrong, a life must
continue, and old mistakes and things said in the passion of the
moment must be forgiven, I hope, because, I still love you actually,
and I wish that in time you will begin to forgive me for all the
fucked-up stuff I did, and to see that I've always wanted what's
best for you and the kids, and I want you to have the apartment
and my new Jeep, which I shouldn't have bought anyway, and you're
right, I don't think the kids should see me for a while, because
you're right, they are scared of me, and it's best I stay a way
during this hard time, when, for once, I should be focusing on
just getting my shit together.