Features: ‘The Catcher in the Rye’; ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’; and Camus and Orwell.
One-line review #41: ‘Darkness at Noon’ by Arthur Koestler.
Fascinating and compelling insight into the kinds of moral conflicts you don’t find in other Stalinist-era novels (principally because the protagonist, Rubashov, has a lot of blood on his hands prior to his loss of faith in the Party) – and esp. of interest for insights into the Comintern – but loses its way in the last act when it slides from moral ambiguity into didactic anti-politics, not just anti-Stalinism.
#49: ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’ by George Orwell.
Wonderful, for the same reasons as ‘Down and Out’ (didn’t really agree with the introduction, which said that the second half is too sweeping).
One-line review #42: ‘The Warden’ by Anthony Trollope.
Excellent; an intelligent and multi-layered story, sensitive characterisation, a quite painful portrayal of someone confronting doubt near the end of his life.
One-line review #43: ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J. D. Salinger.
I don’t feel like going into all that.
One-line review #44: ‘Summer Lightning’ by P. G. Wodehouse.
Extremely funny in places (it makes sense that Hanif Kureishi is such a fan) – esp. thanks to the author’s affectionately mocking tone – and finishing it is curiously like waking from a dream (with all that entails; he’s not an author that leaves you wanting to think or do anything).
One-line review #45: ‘Stamboul Train’ by Graham Greene.
Terrific thriller, masterful interweaving of characters and cinematic prose style; not sure that I fully understood the ending though.
One-line review #46: ‘Honour’ by Elif Shafak (read for book club).
Rambling, cliche-saturated, and bland, bland, bland.
One-line review #47: ‘The White Castle’ by Orhan Pamuk.
A restlessly creative, playful and evocative novel that deals with an East-West encounter in a very interesting, nuanced and two-directional (actually, more than two) way.
One-line review #48: ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’ by George Orwell.
A well-observed essay on the usefulness of poverty as a distraction.
One-line review #49: ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ by Erich Maria Remarque.
A visceral story about the tension between values of civility and the reality of modern warfare; very moving and unflinching in its detail.
One-line review #50: ‘The Plague’ by Albert Camus.
Superb; the symbolism creeps up on you like the plague itself.