Tagged: fiction

Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang

chitty chitty bang bang fleming random house 1964Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car by Ian Fleming, 2/5

A strange little story, with a spindly plot and uneven tone that is sometimes fanciful and sometimes much too serious for the children that are presumably its audience.  I did like the playful illustrations by John Burningham, which are quintessentially 1960s.  Surprisingly, there is very little resemblance to the 1968 film, which I love (though it turns out that what I love about it is probably Roald Dahl’s influence, not Fleming’s inspiration).

Why I read it: my sister thought I might enjoy it.

Tarzan of the Apes

tarzan of the apes edgar rice burroughs bed book 2005Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, 4/5

This is a bittersweet little story, written with the refined yet melodramatic style (and casual racism) that characterizes a lot of literature from the early 1900s.  Like most people, I was already familiar with the characters and story line, but I recognized very little of pop culture Tarzan in this original tale.

The edition is noteworthy because it is printed in landscape format, supposedly making it easier to read in bed.  I really enjoyed the novelty, but didn’t think it was any easier to read lying down than a normal book.

Why I read it: A lovely birthday gift from one of my brothers and his family.

Jonathan Wild

jonathan wild henry fielding walter j black 1932The History of the Life of the Late Mr. Jonathan Wild the Great by Henry Fielding, 2/5

This peculiarly depressing little satire flips traditional concepts of morality on its head by recasting infamous 18th-century thief Jonathan Wild as a “Great Man,” deriding all honest men as “that pitiful order of mortals who are in contempt called good-natured; being indeed sent into the world by nature with the same design with which men put little fish into a pike-pond in order to be devoured by that voracious water-hero” (73).  There are a few hilarious moments but overall Fielding’s satirical style is a bit strained and tedious.

Why I read it: I can’t remember where I picked this book up from, but it probably ended up in the pile beside my bed because I really enjoyed Fielding’s Tom Jones.

Four Novels of the 1970s

four novels of the 1970s leonard library of america 2014Four Novels of the 1970s: Fifty-Two Pickup, Swag, Unknown Man No. 89 and The Switch by Elmore Leonard, 1/5

I made it most of the way through the first novel in this collection and, while I admired the film-noir mood and punchy dialogue, eventually gave up because it was just too R-rated for me.  Given that I enjoy watching a lot of R-rated movies, this might seem strange, but there’s just something about books–I get a bad feeling from reading things in print that wouldn’t phase me to watch on film.

I suspect that Fifty-Two Pickup might be one of Leonard’s roughest books and I might have had better luck with some of his more comedic works, but I just don’t feel motivated to give them a try at this point.

Why I read it: Got a batch of Elmore Leonard books out of the library to read, starting with his 10 Rules of Writing.

Mr. Majestyk

mr majestyk leonard william morrow 2012Mr. Majestyk by Elmore Leonard, 3/5

This is no literary masterpiece, but it’s got a likeable good guy, a hot girl, a selection of mean bad guys and plenty of gun play, so it seems petty to complain.

Why I read it: I needed a break from some of Leonard’s darker work and I enjoyed the Charles Bronson movie which served as inspiration for this short novel.

The Works of Oscar Wilde

works of oscar wilde abbeydale press golden heritage 2000The Works of Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde, 5/5

Oscar Wilde is one of my favorite authors and I have read (and re-read) his major works, such as the entrancing novella, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the impossibly witty play The Importance of Being Earnest.  However, there were a few of his short stories, plays and poems that I’d never encountered before, so this collection was a delightful mix of old favourites and new discoveries.

Why I read it: this collection was a birthday present from my dad.

Fire in the Hole and Other Stories

fire in the hole leonard william morrow 2012Fire in the Hole and Other Stories by Elmore Leonard, 4/5

I enjoyed Leonard’s punchy, no-nonsense writing style (distinctly American, somehow) and entertaining tales full of cool-as-ice characters, though much of it was more R-rated than I’m comfortable with.

Why I read it: I really liked the TV series Justified and wanted to check out the short story that inspired it.