Although the characters are often interesting, and believable, it is the feeling of being exposed to the actual life of the period that was the best aspect of the book for me. We see all the parlor games that were played on a visit to neighbors. We see how people were cheated by sharp characters at the town market.
Yes, it’s a great Australian novel, full of people and places that are both inherently part of their time and true to that space. Above all though, what elevates this book from a cracking good yarn to something that is great, is the magic. The book is rife with magic, so purely woven into the story you might miss it on a first reading. It’s a magic that comes straight from a love of humanity – a generous, funny magic that picks up on all that is truly beautiful, even amidst our flaws.
This leads to what really made the book work for me: a sense of tremendous conviction and strength in back of everything. Dreiser makes me feel, in no uncertain terms, that this is a tale worth telling — even though the writing of it might not come easily to him.
While sister Charlotte’s Jane Eyre was immediately acclaimed, critics had little use for Emily’s book. They thought that Heathcliff and Cathy were too “pagan” to appeal to the the British reader. Well, they are pagan, and so is the book as a whole.
The Way We Live Now is drenched in considerations of money and Trollope carries it off beautifully. For once what people will do for money and how their desires can defeat, disgrace, and humiliate them escapes the boredom that money as a subject commonly invokes. The connections are intricate, admirably stage managed, and have an impetus that some of Trollope lacks.
In refusing to take Time for granted, but continually analyzing it in its different manifestations, the way it seems to pass, I think The Magic Mountain is indeed in the modern category. In this connection, I can’t help thinking of Einstein, who — also early in the 20th century — was making us look at Time in a whole new way.
Time’s Arrow is a brilliant work, in my opinion. In the first place, the time-reversal is done with great skill; and on this level, Time’s Arrow is certainly a tour de force. But I think the book is much more than that. The writing is powerful.
Filial relations that are flawed, marriages that don’t quite flow smoothly, the difficulty of getting along with each other; My Father’s Tears and Other Stories is full of the complex stuff of human existence, by a writer who has been one of its finest modern chroniclers. The work, at least, will live on.
Strangers and Pilgrims is a rewarding selection of tales, not a few of which are masterpieces, by an unduly neglected writer whose work will never be out of date. I envy readers who are coming to Walter de la Mare’s writing for the first time.
Why should one read The Big Sleep today? Well, first there is the story: it is a thrilling ride. Then there is the quality of Chandler’s prose, his much vaunted style, which still impresses (though its downbeat and bathetic vibe is occasionally imitative of Hemingway).