(first published in 1980)
Ignatius J. Reilly spends his days eating junk food, writing notes and screaming obscenities at the telly and his mother. After a series of unfortunate events which puts his mother in debt, he has to go out in New Orleans to look for a job.
Is it possible to like a book if you hate the main character? I really disliked Ignatius, and I know I should feel sorry for him because of his obvious mental state, but I just can’t. His obnoxious character annoyed me so much that I was at several occasions tempted to give up. I often skimmed the parts which were all about him, and especially his notes and letters. But luckily the rest of the characters made this book worth the read.
And yes, it is an absurd tale with some very interesting characters. All my sympathies went to Mrs Reilly and I also found her friend, Santa, hilarious. The rest of the characters make the story interesting, but some of them I found as annoying as Ignatius himself. The ending certainly made me think. And it almost made me root for Ignatius.
This was July’s book in Line’s 1001-books reading challenge.
“‘ When one writes on psychiatry, one should have actual clinical contacts. Jung writes, Beuler writes, Freud writes, Forel writes, Adler writes – also they are in constant contact with mental disorder.’
‘Dick has me,’ laughed Nicole. ‘I should think that’d be enough mental disorder for one man.'”
Dick Diver is an American psychiatrist working in Switzerland where he meets a charming young rich American patient, Nicole Warner. Baby, Nicole’s sister, suggests that a doctor should marry Nicole so she would always have help. Dick then decides to marry Nicole, and they go to the French riviera to live. They live splendidly, with drunken parties and amazing friends. One of the people they meet, is Rosemary, a young American actress, who falls in love with Dick at the first sight. And Dick is not able to resist her, and he has to choose.
Fitzgerald is a master of writing about the rich and famous and intrigues. And this book has everything from love affairs to duels and the cover-up of a murder. I really enjoy reading about the Jazz Age and the glamourous lifestyle. The plot is also intriguing, and it is interesting to see how the characters change. My favourite scene was the break-up in the midst of Tour de France. Hilarious and sad at the same time. And what was the unspeakable thing Mrs McKisco witnessed in the bathroom?
A perfect book for lazy summer afternoons!
“That was it. Send a girl off with one man. Introduce her to another to go off with him. Now go and bring her back. And sign the wire with love. That was it all right.”
Jake Barnes is an American journalist living in Paris. He spends his days working and his nights drinking with his crowd, including Lady Brett Ashley, a stunning English woman who falls in love easily, but is engaged to a Scot, Mike Campbell. And men fall as easily for her. One of them is Robert Cohn, a writer who has a steady and jealous girlfriend, Frances.
Jake has known Brett since the first World War, and they have had their moments, but Jake is one of the persons Brett can trust the most. Jake is planning to go to Spain to do some fishing and then do the bullfighting festival of Pamplona with his friend coming over from America, Bill, and Robert. But Brett and Mike also come along and the wine and festival bring out the worst in everyone.
Paris in the roaring 20s must have been magical and Hemingway portrays the lost generation perfectly. The tension between the characters are present, but you also feel that you don’t know the whole picture. Some things are revealed as the story goes on, but a lot of things are left to the imagination.
I had a hell of a time reading this novel. It might be because I was under the influence of some excellent Italian red wine while reading most of it. But how can you read a novel soaked in wine without actually drinking some?
“It was like certain dinners I remember from the war. There was much wine, an ignored tension, and a feeling of things coming that you could not prevent happening. Under the wine I lost the disgusted feeling and was happy. It seemed they were all such nice people”.
“Then he remembered, without any difficulty, what he it was he had to do: he had to kill Netta Longdon.”
Earl’s Court, London, 1939. George Harvey Bone is obsessed with Netta Longdon, an obsession which sometimes is love, other times hate. Netta has starred in some minor films, but now she spends her days drinking other people’s money and doing little else. And George, who is one of the silent types and a little dumb, is the perfect tool for Netta.
George has always been a bit awkward, and he has this mood, he described it himself as dead, other use the word dumb, which occasionally comes over him. It always starts with a crack in the brain and then his mood alters to the worse and he often doesn’t remember what happens when he is in this mood. In this dead mood he plans to kill Netta.
I have seldom rooted for a possible murder as I have done in this book because Hamilton has portrayed Netta as a horrible woman and George as a man to pity. The fact that she secretly found fascism, Hitler and Mussolini sexy and the way she calculated every move when it came to money and men, made me really dislike her.
Patrick Hamilton is one of the best authors I have stumbled upon and I really wish more people would do the same. And Hangover Square is possibly his best work, but it’s been a while since I read Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky so it’s hard to tell. And the Slaves of Solitude was also great. I’m glad I still have the Gorse Trilogy to read.
“They came out silently, without exchanging a glance; unhurriedly, expecting to be shot at any moment, to crumple on the spot, on to that mud they’d traipsed over so often.”
Ivan has been living almost his entire life in a gulag in Siberia. After his father was shot while they tried to escape, he hasn’t uttered a word. Then one day the guards have suddenly disappeared and Ivan is free to walk. And when he realises that he’s free, he utters a long cry, a sound which stirs all the animals.
When Ivan returns to the place he grew up, he discovers that he is alone. Driven by hunger, he eventually makes his way into a small village where he meets a woman, Olga. Olga is a linguist and is shocked to discover that Ivan speaks a language, Vostyach, which is believed to be extinct. She learns his language and persuades him to come along with her to the Finno-Ugric languages conference in Helsinki.
Don’t judge this book by its cover! Which is certainly one of the ugliest I have seen. The story within is amazing. It starts on the desolate Siberian tundra and journeys to Helsinki where it turns into something resembling pulp fiction with pimps and whores, a murder plot and the release of zoo animals. But it also deals with the loss of languages and although Vostyach is an invented language, the theory behind it is true.
Diego Marani turns out to be the perfect December read for me. I read New Finnish Grammar last year and it was a linguist’s take on the English Patient; small, beautiful and powerful. And the Last of the Vostyach is like a book by Arto Paasilinna, but with a linguistic twist. I hope that Diego Marani’s works will continue to be translated so I can continue to read them in December.
“Cobbled streets and no shops open past six o’clock, a communal life that seemed to revolve around church, and where you could often hear bird song and nothing else: Gaia felt as though she had fallen through a portal into a land lost in time.”
Pagford is a small drowsy village, but when one of the parish council members suddenly dies of an aneurysm, the inhabitants have something to gossip about. Who is going to take his chair at the council and will it decides the faith of the
run-down council housing project, the Fields?
Pagford has some interesting characters which take turns as narrators. All of them have their own problems and secrets and when the Ghost of Barry Fairweather starts posting accusations of the runners for the council elections, they all are concerned. My favourites were definitely the teenagers and they were the ones that really made the book an awesome read.
J.K Rowling uses the same observations and details as in the Harry Potter series, but the language is much more mature. It took a while before the plot thickened, and I spent a lot of time wondering what the book really was about. But around page 200, I became really interested and read the remaining 300 pages in one sitting. And the story of Krystal and her family really broke my heart. Some of the characters got what they deserved, while others really got away with things. I like how this wasn’t some sort of happy ending fairytale book, but a criticism of municipal spending and politics. I just wish she didn’t have to go about killing my favourite characters. I cried buckets at the end.
I hope J.K Rowling continues to write brilliant stories, whether they are meant for kids or adults, I will definitely be reading them.