I’ve completed three more books in my quest to read the 100 greatest novels of all time. Here’s what I thought:
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
It’s been many years since I’ve last ready Gatsby and I noticed a few different things. First off, this is a really quick read. I don’t know if it was because I just finished Ulysses but I was surprised at the simple language used. The novel took about a day and a half to finish. Secondly, while Gatsby is an interesting character, the book is not really about him. This time I paid much more attention to the narrator, Nick Carroway, his lady friend, Jordan Baker, and Nick’s cousin’s husband, Tom Buchanan. Also, looking at the bigger, historical picture, this book is about the metaphorical death of a decade and of a generation. So there’s that.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
I was glad to be back in the language world of James Joyce. He’s just in a whole different ball game. This book is a loosely autobiographical novel about Stephen Dedalus growing up. The writing style starts childish and slowly grows more mature to represent Stephen becoming the poet he wants to be. Here’s the opening lines:
“Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo…”
And here’s the closing line:
“Welcome, O life, I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”
I don’t know how to describe this book. But I’ll try (and fail). It’s disturbing. It’s sad. It’s hilarious. It’s immoral. It’s beautiful. Let me try again. This book is about a 40s European male who has an attraction for girls between the age of 9-14. He calls them “nymphets.” He does everything he can to be with one he names Lolita. He gets to be with her. And it becomes a physical and mental hell for both (mostly the former for Lolita and the latter for Humbert). Which leads me back to this: It’s disturbing. It’s sad. It’s hilarious. It’s immoral. It’s beautiful.
Onwards! I’m currently reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
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