It is a remarkable portrait of social misunderstanding, one that is so clear it illuminates current, similar but subtler suspicion of odd individuals in our own world. The money that Marner makes becomes important to him—obvious reward for his work. He is transformed by his isolation, his work, his money, his (often inhuman or at least unsocial) concerns: achieving independence but a spiritual withering.
It is hard to reconcile daily life and profound thought sometimes, but fiction gives us the semblance of both, reconciled. In Great Expectations, we see how shallow hopes give way to mature duties, friendship, love, and wisdom, when the little poor boy Pip gets a benefactor and a trip to London—he assumes Miss Havisham is his benefactor.
The world of Maddaddam is harsh and often ugly world – particularly the Painballers – a group of criminals who have survived their Hunger Games style imprisonment a number of times and have lost their ‘humanity’ in the process. However, in spite of some pretty gruesome episodes, ultimately the story is a redemptive and satisfying one. The Craker’s naivety is charming, and beyond Toby and Zeb, the characters are delightfully Dickenesque – turning to fizz, flirting in scientific jargon, and cooking up a storm with weeds and lab-grown splices.
Most essays are centred on a particular work, and collectively they cover a period of about 40 years (1871-1911), for Rodin was always working, sketching even at the last. We learn some interesting things: for example, that The Kiss (1899) was inspired by Dante; that Rodin saw Nijinsky dance; of his affinity with Baudelaire, Mirbeau and Flaubert.
City of Dark Magic is could be described as a psychedelic time traveling adventure. From the first chapter, it’s clear that this is no ordinary novel and the colorful cast of characters have their own agendas.
The novel’s strength is the very personal journey the reader takes alongside Amy as she weighs up conventional First World medical procedures with the almost Cavewoman-style natural homebirthing. It is a suspenseful ride with her as she battles conventions, the expectations of others as well as a category three tropical cyclone to boot.
By the Book brings the reader into the story right from the start, and envelopes us in a kind of shared conversation about ourselves. By the Book is all about conversation – and as we ‘converse’ with Koval through her own history, and…
There are many other Nayman hilarities. The sentient kitchen, for example, is so possessive that if a human tries to boil an egg ‘it turns the heat up so much you could melt a pavement.’ Science too gets the treatment.…
It is hard to believe that Dickens was not thinking of Sterne’s novel when he began his own. Even the tie-in with the future fate of the main character is similar: Tristram Shandy laments that if his parents had considered how much depended upon their attentiveness to their task, at the moment of his conception, his life would have turned out much better.
I’ve always found the term ‘experimental literature’ to be unsatisfactory, since it begs so many questions. For a start, what hypothesis is being tested? Then again, how would you know that the experiment – if such it is – has been successful? Only if the hypothesis has been confirmed? Yet what if the experiment had done its job, by providing a rigorous trial?