Sunday, May 4, 2008

Portrait of a Man with Red Hair - Hugh Walpole
I stopped about three fourths through. The premise was interesting, and I endured the florid writing because I thought Walpole had a purpose in using it. There was a feeling, when the man with red hair appeared, of a nice turn to the macabre. But all was preparatory to juvenile nonsense. Extreme emotional states over-described.

Tropic Moon - Georges Simenon (French)
The prose is lean, and Simenon creates a heavy, dark atmosphere, but the book lacks logic. Characters can be mysterious, but they can't act without sufficient motivation. In order to be involved, the reader has to buy into people and events; an uninvolved reader is an unsympathetic one. The misery of the main character is so deep – he’s so unrelentingly anguished and often drunk – that it becomes an ordeal to read about him.

Blott on the Landscape - Tom Sharpe
I stopped reading when things got foolish (the lions arrived). Up to a point this was a good comic novel, but the author didn’t have control of his material; he just piled on more and more absurdities until the structure collapsed. If he had been truer to real people the book would have been tamer and infinitely better.

The Pursuit of Love - Nancy Mitford
Mitford got one thing right: she made me believe in the closeness and loyalty of the Hons (an aristocratic British title, short for “Honorable”). That loyalty was an anchor throughout, because they were a disagreeable lot. Still, the narrator resolutely stood up for them, no matter what they did – they were Hons, after all. A mildly diverting read.

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