Archive for the ‘Classic’ Category
What is the relationship between persecutors and their victims? In THE DEATH OF THE ADVERSARY â€“ poised on the brink of what soon will be one of the worldâ€™s most horrific tragedies â€“ an unnamed narrator in an unnamed country reflects on an unnamed figure who will soon ascend to power. Although the figure (â€śBâ€ť) is never revealed, it soon becomes obvious that he is Hitler and that the narrator is of Jewish descent.
I’d read wildly different reviews of a Thomas Bernhard book. One review was overwhelmingly positive while another review thought the same book (THE OLD MASTERS) pointless. After reading both reviews and salient quotes, I leaned towards the pointless reaction, but then again, the reviewersâ€™ reactions to the same book were so different, I was curious to try a Bernhard novel. This brings me to CONCRETE, and after reading it, I now understand how this author could provoke such vastly different reactions from readers.
WOODCUTTERS, originally written as part of a trilogy, is Bernhardâ€™s diatribe about his disgust, revulsion, loathing, hatred and vilification of the hypocrites and losers that make up the art circle in Vienna from the 1950â€™s through the 1980â€™s. In his unique style, with not one paragraph in nearly 200 pages, this novel is told primarily in stream of consciousness from the viewpoint of a writer, one not unlike Bernhard himself. The novel is in three identifiable parts â€“ the writer sitting in a wing chair observing a dinner party, the writer discussing his relationship with a recently deceased friend, and the conversations of an actor during dinner.
Christine Hoflehner, the postmistress in a small village in Austria, seems an unlikely Cinderella. Coming of age in the crippling poverty prevalent in Austria after the First World War, she is now twenty-six, barely holding out on her meager salary as a state employee, without social life, without future. But then a fairy godmother appears in the form of an aunt who has married well in America, who invites her to stay with them at a luxury hotel in the Swiss Alps. Once there, she lends her fashionable clothes, buys her expensive accessories, and takes her to a beauty salon to complete the transformation. Drab no longer, Christine is now the belle of the ball, courted by the rich and titled of several nations. It takes a week or more before her personal clock strikes midnight, but when it does and she flees home in shame, she can no longer be content with the humdrum life she had left behind. This becomes the story of a Cinderella after the ball, with no prince to appear with the glass slipper.
For me, P. G. Wodehouse and eighth grade totally belong together. I spent all of eighth grade reading whatever Wodehouse I could get my hands on and totally inhabited the lives of Bertie Wooster, Jeeves and Blandings Castle. I still remember my friends and I writing letters to each other in the Wodehouse style: â€śHow are you? Hope youâ€™re in the pink of h.â€ť That sort of stuff.
That instantly recognizable style of writing is also here in AUNTS AREN’T GENTLEMENâ€”one of the many Wodehouse novels re-released by Overlook Press on the 25th anniversary of his death. This is a Jeeves caper, which means the stoic butler is again rescuing his employer, Bertie Wooster, from comically sticky situations.
In 1917, the august and eccentric Sherlock Holmes was sent a letter by his American precursor detective, Ebenezer Gryce, warmly extending sympathy for a shared suffering of rheumatism, and winkingly offering hope that Conan Doyle would give to Sherlock as clever an assistant as Anna Katharine Green had to Ebenezer, casting gentle aspersions on Dr. Watson! Naturally, it was really Green who was tweaking Doyle in good fun. She and Doyle had met in Buffalo, New York in 1894 when Sherlock’s creator toured the U.S, delivering lectures. He couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see the lady who debuted her series sleuth nearly a decade before the Holmes stories began.