Log in

The River Between by Ngugi wa Thiong'o

The River Between explores tensions between two factions within the Gikuyu tribe in the early days of white settlement in Kenya. One group embraces the new religion of the missionaries. Their leader, Joshua, is a zealous Christian preacher. Inflexible and intolerant, he condemns the traditional native culture, which he regards as superstitious and sinful. The other group rejects Christianity (or in some cases, has rejected it after having initially been converted) and seeks to observe and perpetuate the traditions of the tribe.Read moreCollapse )
The Confusions of Young Törless explores the psychological struggle of an adolescent boy as he attempts to make sense of conflicting feelings and desires. The novel is set in a boarding school in a remote part of the Austrian Empire at the turn of the twentieth century. When he first goes to the school, Törless is desperately homesick. Later, his homesickness becomes less acute, but "its disappearance did not bring a long-awaited feeling of contentment but left a void inside young Törless." In short, his longing for home and his parents had been a source of support, an ordering of his world, and when it subsides he is left with nothing. "Törless now felt extremely dissatisfied and looked around in vain for something new he could use for support."read moreCollapse )

A Heart So White by Javier Marías

Javier Marías is celebrated in his native Spain, but much less known in the United States. A Heart So White (the title is a line from Macbeth) is the first of his books that I have read, which is my loss. A central theme in the book is the quest by the principal character, Juan, who is also the narrator, to discover more about the past of his father, Ranz. How did Ranz's previous wife die? How many times was he married? But "quest" is a misleading description. Juan is alternately curious and uncertain; he wonders whether he really wants to know, and whether the past, whatever it contains, might best be left alone. Read moreCollapse )

The Crying of Lot 49, by Thomas Pynchon

Aaaaaannd....now I know where Inverarity's livejournal username and picture come from. I guess you're a real Pynchon fan, eh Inverarity?

Mercury Shrugged: The Crying of Lot 49, by Thomas Pynchon Collapse )

Burmese Days by George Orwell

George Orwell was born in India, educated in England, and served for five years with the Imperial Police in Burma. Burmese Days describes a small group of English officers and businessmen in a small outpost in Burma. Deeply contemptuous of the Burmese culture and people, they attempt, in their small whites-only club, to live as genteel English people. Only one of them, the central character Flory, takes an interest in the native culture or forms friendships among the people, for which he is ridiculed and despised by his fellow whites. The story is set against the backdrop of the Burmese land and climate, beautifully described, and the the story develops within a web of intrigue and corruption among native officials. Read moreCollapse )

The German Lesson by Siegfried Lenz

The dust jacket of this book offers this summary: "Siggi Jepsen . . . is required to write an essay for his German lesson on 'The Joys of Duty.' Once he starts writing, Siggi cannot stop until he has set down the story of his life since 1943, ten years earlier, when he was a young boy in wartime Germany. His father, Jens Jepsen (a policeman), receives orders from Berlin decreeing that his lifelong friend, Max Ludwig Nansen, a painter of international reputation, may no longer paint. Acting in obedience to these and later orders, the policeman confiscates all of Nansen's work from the preceding two years and keeps dogged watch over the artist to prevent him from painting any more. Meanwhile, Jepsen's son, Siggi, revolted by his father's unreasoning devotion to duty and increasingly attracted to the independent Nansen, helps the painter to go on working in defiance of the ban."Read moreCollapse )

The End of the Road by John Barth

The End of the Road, John Barth's second novel, first published in 1958, is less well-known than some of his later novels, like The Sot-Weed Factor or Giles Goat Boy, but it is well worth reading. It is the story, told in the first person, of Jacob (Jake) Horner, who suffers, we could say (although he doesn't) from a lack of personality. ("Lack of personality" is to be taken here quite literally.) At the suggestion of a "Doctor" (quack? wise therapist?) who has undertaken to help him, he applies for and receives a teaching position at a small-town teacher's college. He becomes friendly with one of his colleagues, Joe Morgan, and his wife Rennie. Joe is brilliant but obsessed with a sort of uncompromising rationalism and Rennie is his partly uncomprehending convert.read moreCollapse )

The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

The Black Prince is the story of Bradley Pearson, a 58-year-old novelist and self-styled artist whose meagre output has been critically praised but commercially unsuccessful. His friend and rival, Arnold Baffin, is a prolific writer of successful but--in Bradley's opinion--inferior novels. Bradley has a brief almost-an-affair relationship with Arnold's wife, Rachel. He then falls passionately in love with the the Baffins' 20-year-old daughter, Julian. Julian returns his love, and more than half the book is devoted to recounting their relationship. The story is complicated by interference from Bradley's psychotic sister, Priscilla, his ex-wife, Christian, who would like to reconnect, and Christian's brother, Francis. According to the blurb on the copy I read, "The action includes marital cross-purposes, seduction, suicide, abduction, romantic idylls, murder, and due process of law. Bradley tries to escape from it all but fails, leading to a violent climax and altered perspectives." That about sums it up.Read moreCollapse )


1001 books
1001 Books (eventually!)



RSS Atom
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow