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blicero (Queens, NY)

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Dead Babies
Dead Babies
38 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars me and Amis, May 29 2002
This review is from: Dead Babies (Paperback)
In the Rachel Papers, Amis claims that as a modern writer one can no longer write seriously about such things as love, the moon's reflection in the pond, the stars... This may be the case, but that doesn't mean that you are confined to writing only about pornographers, seedy, violent urban people and wise-acre nihilists. These types of people (and they are merely types) fit better in movies and TV than they do in fiction. Because they're boring and wooden, is why. The dialouge in this book (and man, is there a lot of it) is comprised of the characters (or caricatures) all trying to be more witty and nihilistic than each other. The reader comes away with feelings about how essentially boring human conversation is. Also there is something old-fashioned about the fascination in this book with sex and drugs... If you've already had sex and experimented with drugs (as presumably most of Amis's readers have) then this book just often seems juvenile.
Also, a bone to pick re: Amis's Americans: They are wooden and reflect common Euro misconceptions about what Americans are like.
Amis seems to cling to these stereotypes (eg. all Americans are tall, tan, and filled with "American resolve" as he says in the Information, his best novel (I think)). His Americans, at least in his early fiction, are absolute cartoons, even more cardboard-like than his other characters. You can't understand a culture by watching its TV and reading its newpapers. As the kid says below, so much for the War against the Cliche. From reading Amis's fiction, I'm surprised by the fact that he actually has been here... Plus, gritty urban America is merely one facet of the country, and even within this small section, there is endless variation (eg. the world of Seattle is far from the world of Chicago).
Boy, I don't want it to seem like I don't like Amis; he's great and really funny, but this is the weakest novel of his I've read, so everything that bothers me about him kinda stood out.
His influences are so clearly felt (Bellow, Nabokov, Updike, Delillo) that you can almost pick any paragraph and easily see which of these four comes through the most. I'm not saying Amis is derivitave, though; he's got his own thing going on...
The cool thing about Dead Babies is the "time situation": in the narration, the events that you are reading are still off in the future; "now" all the characters haven't even met, the situations have barely even come together. So there is a subjunctive, elusive feel to the narrative...cool.
Personally, I'd suggest the Information if you've never read him before. And really maybe the reason his characters grate on me is because I'm too "tender and wooly" as Updike has said of himself.

V. (Perennial Classics)
V. (Perennial Classics)
42 used & new from CDN$ 4.45

3.0 out of 5 stars You never did., Sept. 17 2001
The Kenosha Kid.
You! Never.... Did the Kenosha Kid???
A-and you may have done lot's of things, Jackson, but you've never really done the Kenosha Kid.
Okay, that's enough.

Penguin Classics Resurrection
Penguin Classics Resurrection
by Leo Tolstoy
Edition: Paperback
48 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars please, Sept. 4 2001
Personal feelings aside, I beseech, urge, command that whoever has not read Tolstoy before to stay away from this book until you have read ALL of Tolstoy's previous work. Then you'll realize how simplistic and dull this book is. If you want spiritual guidance, go to church or watch Oprah; if you want art, read all of Tolstoy through Anna Karenin. Peace.

Penguin Classics Childhood Boyhood And Youth
Penguin Classics Childhood Boyhood And Youth
by Leo Tolstoy
Edition: Paperback
44 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Early Tolstoy, Aug. 21 2001
When this book first hit the stores in Russia about 150 years ago, folks didn't think too much of it, seeing it merely as a minor work by one who had read Dickens. Tolstoy himself claimed that no one taught him more about the art of fiction than Dickens, and the literary circles of Russia were Dickens-fanatics, Russia recieving his works only after England.
But beyond being similiar to David Copperfield, this book has moments in it that match parts of Karenin and War and Peace in beauty and texture if not in scope. What's amazing about Tolstoy is that his earliest work (this and his early war sketches) seem as artistically mature as his later, epic masterpieces. The death-obsession and intense philosophical and spiritual doubts that plagued Tolstoy later in life did not all of a sudden erupt while writing Anna Karenin; but rather they were always there in one form or another... an echo of adolescent sadness.

The Body Artist: A Novel
The Body Artist: A Novel
by Don DeLillo
Edition: Hardcover
47 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Don Delillo Fan Club, Rah!Rah!, March 23 2001
The two reviews below me are garbage; so is the review from the kid from Boston; destroy and forget them.
The effect of this book is chilling, and though it is as cerebral as anything Delillo's done, it's much more intimate. Global events and the interlacings of society are completely absent. This alone makes this book strange in comparison with Delillo's other stuff.
The first chapter is honestly a perfect chapter; every sentence seems perfectly in place, perfectly cut. What unravels is the protean nature of the senses and the act of sensing; the inability to fully see and comprehend a given moment in its entirety; how light and airy living can be when you often don't feel like acting until the possibility of acting is gone, and can't fully understand something until that something is no longer there to be understood.
Well, that last paragraph basically doesn't make sense, but Delillo makes it all ring with crystal-clear sense in this book. This book will make you feel uncomfortable in your own skin, will give you a headache and cause you to doubt the most basic assumptions and paradigms you have about the world percieved through the senses.

Tender Is the Night
Tender Is the Night
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.71
59 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars i read for books like this, March 17 2001
This review is from: Tender Is the Night (Paperback)
i read The Great Gatsby 7 years ago when i was eighteen and thought it flat and completely uninteresting. So i decided to read Tender is the Night and was not expecting much. But seriously, I had no idea Fitzgeral could write with such depth and beaty. Almost every paragraph in this book is enjoyable, and some of the writing is just as breathtaking, and as origianl and pure as basically anyone...
Interesting to me was the fact that this book reminded me of some of Nabokov's books that were also written in the 20's and 30's (particularly King, Queen, Knave and Glory). Perhaps it is the priviledged, European feel that Tender has, or maybe the painful lyricism of some of the passages, but either way he has earned the highest compliment by being compared to Nabokov. I believe I am the first to make this observation.
This book, like On the Road, will have moments of energetic optimism and loveoflife while at the same time harboring a sense of impending doom and finality. This book will break your heart. It is just beautiful and sad and everything a book should be.

Gerald's Party
Gerald's Party
by Robert Coover
Edition: Paperback
15 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars f'd up., Feb. 26 2001
This review is from: Gerald's Party (Paperback)
This is a very intelligent, beautifully written book; yet, for me, there just was not enough natural momentum to carry the whole thing off. Time...one of the main obsessions in the life of this novel, and the idea of Time being nonexistent, and ever the same with only spacial relations changing is one that is dwelled on by some of the characters. And that's the problem with this novel, with the idea of time thrown out the window every page read the exact same. Read any 30 pages and you will enjoy them immensly but to keep it up for 300 pages is more stamina than i could produce.
There were so many funny scenes though!! But, like a David Lynch movie, after awhile the bizzarities just become repetitive and annoying, with nothing deeper underlying them. Some of the kids from Coover's generations (Barth, Vonnegut, kind of Barthelme) seem to do things that would be more fun to think up and write than to actually read. With these guys (i hate to group, but oh well) you can almost always imagine them slyly smiling behind the page at their zany little creation or attack on the prevailing form of fiction. It often comes off as too academic.
At the same time not at all... there is way more chaos and madness than most uptight, imaginitively limited professors could ever handle, brimming in blood, unsound meditations, dizzying desire... i guess i dont know what to think about this novel... i kind of think Coover may be one of those writers who sometime down the road i will want to scream at myself for ever criticizing.

A Flag for Sunrise
A Flag for Sunrise
by Robert Stone
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.85
48 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Stone fans: stand up and be counted!!!, Feb. 1 2001
This review is from: A Flag for Sunrise (Paperback)
What? No one has reviewed this book in over a year?!! Is some Agency eliminating all of the Robert Stone fans... will my review make it past the Censor Board?
Yes, Ken Kesey has called his friend Stone a professional paranoid and asserted that he could sense sinister elements lurking behind every Oreo cookie. After reading this book I could see what Kesey was saying.
This book reminded me of Graham Greene in some general ways (sneaky spies, drunken central american priests, general gloom), and like Greene (who i dont even like that much) there are plenty of worried, unhappy people. In fact I challenge one to catch any of the characters in this book happy or sober for one whole scene. I believe there were perhaps two smiles. Anyhow, Stone strikes me as the type of guy uncomfortable with writing about happy people or comedy, but this really is not a criticism and it does not limit the scope of his writing. An added bonus is the unbelievabe, almost heroic amounts of drinking in the novel. It makes you feel better about your own alcohol problem.
The writing is beautiful, contemplative, and his creation of the country Tecan is cool. The suspense and tension was often as immediate as it can be in really good movies, or worrisome phone calls or any discussion with an ex-girlfriend.
So the point is: this is a great book, OK?

Fathers and Sons
Fathers and Sons
by Ivan Turgenev
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
24 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars what's the deal Ivan?, Jan. 22 2001
I can't believe this is the best Turgenev could do for a nihilist character: a grumpy geek who loves frogs. Compared to the extremism of characters in Nabokov, Mailer, Rushdie etc. this Bazorov guy couldn't possibly be more boring.

A Man in Full
A Man in Full
by Tom Wolfe
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
89 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars out of his league, Jan. 12 2001
anything written by John Updike, Norman Mailer, or John Irving is better than anything by tom wolfe. That's all I have to say.

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