Sunday, June 20, 2004

The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall

A provocative literary parody that explodes the mythology perpetrated by a Southern classic. So says the cover, and it sure does, although it takes more than half the book to figure out who is who and what the hell is going on. Told in the form of a first person journal, the narrator is Scarlett O’Hara’s half-sister and a slave, who also loves Rhett Butler, has an affair with him and marries him after Scralett dies, and eventually leaves him for a black Congressman who she doesn’t marry but for whom she secretly has a baby. So secret in fact that her journal barely knows it happened, skipping over years in the last few pages and only dropping tiresome hints. I did not like this book. None of the Gone with the Wind characters are referred to by their names, but by code names—R for Rhett, The Other for Scarlett, The Dreamy Gentleman for Ashley Wilkes. Hey, Alice, I read Gone with the Wind—and liked it better than your book—but I don’t have the damn thing memorized. How about helping me out just a little in trying to decipher your work? I couldn’t tell who was who and which were white and which were black until over halfway through. Maybe that was the point? OK. Good point. Bad book.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The Metamorphoses by Ovid

Why on Earth did I read this? Because it was there. Was it good? Parts of it. The story of Phaethon losing control of the sun chariot was especially vivid, as was Nestor’s tale of the centaurs, in which they slaughtered each other in every way imaginable. Will I read any of it again? No.

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

East is East by T. C. Boyle

I love the way this guy writes and I very much enjoyed this book. Although I must say that I enjoyed the part I read on vacation better than the part I read at home. Being on vacation and being able to leisurely read 50 pages at a time probably had a lot to do with that, but maybe the end wasn’t as good as the beginning. When it comes to writing, beginnings are easier than ends, although I think middles are the easiest of them all. The middle of this book is really good. As I said earlier, his writing is crisp and inventive and his characters are deep and developed. That one chapter he started from Turco’s point of view was amazing. It was different than everything else in the book, but may have been the truest voice in there. Like that little bit was Boyle’s natural voice and the rest of it was an elaborately-built and well-executed construct. I want to read more of this author.