Tag Archive for 1920s

Book Review: The Old Wives’ Tale by Arnold Bennett

The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett I’m not sure why I kept reading through to the end (or very near it). It was slightly interesting at first, but then it just dragged on…and on… and on. I hoped it would pick up or do something to redeem itself later on, but it never really did. I only wish I’d stopped reading earlier on…

Book Review: The Tin Drum by Günter Grass

The Tin Drum by Günter Grass I read at least part of this book in college — in the original German — but I’d forgotten just how strange and twisted of a book it is. It’s rather intense overall, especially with the style it’s written in. It’s quite detailed and rather heavy at times, but it’s well-written almost throughout. There were only a few parts, especially towards the end, where I didn’t feel as captivated, usually when there was repetition of certain events.

As for the story itself, it’s quite difficult in many ways, and quite often. Disturbing, emotional, twisted, tragic, and lots of other “fun” stuff. Not surprising given our narrator, who seems to be precocious and talented, but also wicked and a bit insane as well. The other characters are all quite intriguing in their own ways, but you end up questioning how much you can trust the narrator in all of this, especially given the things he does to the others.

I think I’m glad I read (or re-read) this book, but I don’t know that I will be re-reading this in future. It’s such an intense book, and I can appreciate it for what it is, but I think I’ve had my fill, for now at least.

Book Review: Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto by Maile Chapman

Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto by Maile Chapman Definitely a strange book. Part historical fiction, part literary fiction, with a touch of creepiness mixed in as well. I’m not sure it’s entirely successful though, but I wouldn’t say it was entirely bad either.

First and foremost, the writing was a mixed bag. At times, I really liked the way the author described things and set the scene for the reader. But often, that feeling would be ruined by long, boring, and overly detailed stretches of scene descriptions or inner dialogues. And I’d often stumble on a sentence that felt like it was dancing around the meaning, requiring a few rereads that didn’t always clear things up. It felt like the author was sometimes referencing things I couldn’t identify, but really I think they were things only she got, like an inside joke amongst friends. Simpler language would help with a lot of these issues.

As for the story, not much happens. Things meandered for a very long time — touching upon a lot of characters without fully developing most of them — and then eventually, very near the end of the book, a lot of big events happen, one right after the other. It was a bit too much really, despite all the build-up, and it didn’t feel like enough of a reward for having slogged through the rest of the book to get there. I have the feeling that this book started as a short story, but wasn’t really enough to work well as a full book, which is a shame.

That said, I did like some aspects of the book, so I don’t feel this was a complete waste of time. I think this author has some strong skills, but with some room for improvement. The setting and story of this book are certainly unique, and it’s not a book that is easily fit into a single category. I might read some other pieces of her work, but maybe not right away.

Book Review: Life Goes On by Hans Keilson

Life Goes On by Hans Keilson Not quite what I expected after reading the summaries, but it was all right. It gets a bit heavy in parts, both in terms of writing and mood. It reminded me of some of Hans Fallada’s books, written around the same time.