fogbound.net




Mon, 9 Feb 2004

The Magnificent Ambersons

— SjG @ 4:31 pm

Booth Tarkington, 1918. Read as an e-Book from the Gutenberg Project by way of BlackMask.com

The Magnificent Ambersons is, indeed, magnificent. It has all of the elements of a great tragedy, tracing the transformation of a small midwestern town into a vast city, and the transition of one of the Important Families of that small town into just so many more working stiffs in the industrial age. It’s simultaneously wistful for the passing of a slower, quieter way of life, and a gentle poking of fun at the mores of that time.
There are many tragedies in this tale; the unfulfilled love of Eugene Morgan and Isabel Amberson, the tragedy of the arrogance and fall of George Amberson Minafer, the tragedy of Fanny Amberson’s unrequited love, and, finally, the tragedy of the passing of a way of life. Tarkington depicts these with a beautiful simplicity, warning us in advance of the inevitability of each outcome, and yet making each one poignant. No Oedipus was more trapped by destiny than George Minafer, more driven by his own hubris.
Tarkington lovingly shows people and their senses of identity. He carefully displays to us where people fit in Society, and what expectations are upon them. He makes it clear to us why the characters regard themselves as they do, and how their senses of identity give them strength — or betray them. He gives a remarkable view of what Society was like in Midwestern cities in turn-of-that-century America. We can admire the characters who are able to break from the expectations that ensnare them, and we can understand those who wholeheartedly dedicate themselves to fulfilling them. Given this understanding, we find ourselves sympathizing (despite ourselves) with even George’s most egregious behavior.

Filed in:

Fri, 9 Jan 2004

Animal Farm

— SjG @ 4:31 pm

George Orwell, 1945. Read as an e-Book from george-orwell.com via BlackMask.com

There’s not much to be said about Animal Farm that hasn’t already been said. Many people have had this book “ruined” for them by having it assigned in High School. To them I say: read it again. It’s short, moves fast, and is wickedly on target. While Orwell may have written about Stalinist Russia, we find that every revolution eventually gets taken over by the pigs.

Filed in:

Black Betty, White Butterfly, A Red Death

— SjG @ 4:28 pm

Walter Mosley, Pocket Books.

See Devil in a Blue Dress below. Same goes for these three.

Filed in:

Mon, 22 Dec 2003

Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

— SjG @ 4:28 pm

Al Franken, Dutton, 2003.

Pretty much what you’d expect. Slams against the right wing, the conservative media, and the administration. You either love it or hate it, all depending on which side of the fence you’re on.

Filed in:

Sun, 30 Nov 2003

The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor

— SjG @ 4:26 pm

John Barth, Mariner Books, 1991

Rarely do I read a book and get to the very end still undecided whether I really like it or really dislike it. This, however, is such a book.
Barth interweaves tales of legendary Arabia with modern New England, and does it in a way that’s compelling. Portions such as the narrator’s first experiences of love and sexuality are poignant, believable, and touching. Other portions, such as the endless plot twists in Sindbad’s world, feel too long and, eventually, contrived.

Filed in: