Is that written by the Gibbons brothers? By some strange twist of fate I used to go out with the wife of one of them (it was all very young and casual and we’re good friends).
Oh, Catcher is certainly worth reading, not because of the hype but because it is wonderfully written. It’s basically a stream-of-consciousness monologue told by a male teen to (presumably) his therapist, dealing with themes of teenage angst, depression, and self-esteem issues. It is written exactly how you would imagine a teen speaking, and is fairly fascinating in that respect. As I mentioned above, I got some insights on the third reading that I didn’t pick up previously, so I think you should give it another try.
So I read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet last week and I agree with your assessment. I greatly enjoyed reading it, the characters were engaging and amusing, and I really felt for them at various points. But the plot is perfunctory at best beyond being a framework to show the reader a year in the life of this particular starship crew.
Yeah, they did most of it, but Coogan and Iannucci are credited too.
I heard Coogan say that was the main reason they revived Partridge. When Iannucci and Baynham went off to bigger things (or bigger paying things) they knocked him on the head but Rob and Neil Gibbons found the voice perfectly.
I’ve been kinda wanting to read Catcher in the Rye with an English course for forever, but haven’t yet dared to / managed to. I think I’ll go for it next chance I get (meaning that I need a class the right-age, and in a year where there are no other prescribed topics or books).
At the time, I didn’t appreciate the books that my grammar school and high school teachers put in the “required reading” lists; I usually ended up rush-reading them just to be able to write a book report. As an adult, I’ve gone back and re-read so many of those books and authors, and realize how GOOD they really are. Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Golding, Steinbeck, Hardy, Austen, Wharton, etc.
The words ‘homework’ and ‘required reading’ have likely put a lot of people off reading anything at all never mind great literature. I never liked the feeling of being made to read something. (The obvious exception to the rule is if I tell you should read something ). Teachers (I’m excluding Christian here, obviously) also had a tendency to say your analysis was wrong without being able to explain why. There is also the possibility that I asked too many awkward questions…
I’ve not read The Catcher in the Rye, but I’ve just found a copy on the shelf. I only have ten other books out at the moment, and it’s only a wee slim volume. Christian can practice his lesson plan on us.
I still haven’t worked out how to write any sort of book report about The Sellout. Simon will probably figure it out before me.
I was thinking of writing about it, but thought better of it. Better to allow people to make up their own minds I think.
I’m absolutely the same. I never really had much interest in reading the stuff handed to me at school. It was only when I got a little older and buying books in the Bargain Basement in Hodges Figgis turned out to be a cheap form of entertainment that I got around to reading some Hemingway, Dickens, Hardy etc. Golding I’ve never forgiven for what he did to Simon in Lord of the Flies (we did the novel for my Leaving Cert and I got slagged something rotten). But I discovered that they’re classics for a reason.
I still haven’t got around to reading any Steinbeck, but I will.
Grapes of Wrath first, then Of Mice and Men.
Beatty’s The Sellout is filled with inimitably quotable lines that are equally difficult to quote which is probably one of the points the book makes in the first place. And it’s not solely due to that word which, no matter how often he repeats it, never loses its impact. Some words really do hold power and you can’t always reclaim them for yourself. It’s funny how often the words honest and truth get associated with descriptive terms like scathing, searing, blistering, withering. We shouldn’t need a book to remind us of the obvious – it’s more painful and damaging in the long-term not to confront things directly for fear of offending. It isn’t really turtles: it’s Man of Steel and politics all the way down. Beatty isn’t afraid to demonstrate any prejudice - Dickens: hella Mexicans. I liked what he had to say about the Irish too.
The Dum Dum Donut Intellectuals were hilarious - fuelled with too much ineffectual empty sugar and not enough Bushmills. I liked Marpessa and her dream of the flying bus, or at least her dream as viewed by the narrator. Poor Hominy and those appalling lost Little Rascals clips.
There isn’t anything new or unknown as such in the book, it’s more the way in which it’s presented, “Contrary to the appellation, Whitey Week was actually a thirty-minute celebration of the wonders and contributions of the mysterious Caucasian race to the world of leisure. A moment of respite…” You’ll have to read it for yourself to discover his definitions of Regular, Deluxe, and Super Deluxe Whiteness. (Not intending to trivialise, but I’d quite like to have a boat that I never use). There are multiple layers just in his descriptions of the apples and oranges alone. I’ll never perceive agriculture or the Washington Monument in quite the same way again.
Due to the timing of reading this, I was reminded of Ghost in the Shell. It’s something else that could only be a product of a particular place and alludes to a certain time in history. (Now I’m getting a tad too tactful Fawlty Towers). There are some parallels in how it deals with ethnicity and the past. A shame so many seemed determined to miss that allegory recently; so determined that they refused to watch or read any interpretation of it. The new film might not have been the best version, but at least it tried. It deserves a sequel.
Related to similar themes – Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant is another book I keep intending to read:
Sure we need diplomacy and tact, but we need more writers with a voice like Drax too. Beatty has that much in common with Basil Fawlty: some issues are too big and can only be dealt with via humour. Give it whatever label you like - satire, comedy/tragedy – doesn’t matter; not the best book I’ve ever read either, but it makes you think.
Oh, and what Jerry says - read Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath soonest.
Now I’m wondering - what is the best book you’ve ever read? (I only like easy questions ).
Firstly, that was a wonderful and eloquent review of The Sellout, and it is one with which I agreen entirely.
Yeah…You’re not wrong. That is a difficult question.
I’m not sure that I’m capable of picking a book which is objectively the “Best”. I can pick my favourite and even at that I would struggle to select just one. To give you an idea of how much I’ve struggled, I saw your post this morning and I have been thinking about it all day.
I would probably have to go with Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. I think that I enjoyed the sheer depth to the absurdity to it. I thought that the Sellout measured up to it pretty well, which also being it’s own thing.
I say Catch 22, knowing that I’m going to wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night and wonder why I didn’t say For Whom the Bell Tolls/Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas/The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy/The Code of the Woosters/The Man Who was Thursday/Great Expectations etc. etc. etc.
That one is on my shelf too. I’ve never read it, but based on your recommendation I will put it on my list.
Catch 22 is one of my favorite novels. I’ve been trying to get my wife to read it for years.
Excellent. I hope you enjoy it.
It is a while since I read it (by a while, I possibly mean more than a decade) so a re-read might be in order.
But as this is the non-comics thread, here’s a serious answer:
I would really struggle to choose between Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mocking Bird, and Winnie-the-Pooh. But probably Winnie-the-Pooh.
Another vote for Grapes of Wrath…
I’m still thinking thinks.
Winnie the Pooh would say it’s a very good habit to get into.
“Did you ever stop to think…
And forget to start again?”
I loved Winnie the Pooh. Only read it for the first time when I was reading it to my son, and I was very surprised when its ending broke my heart.
The Man Who Was Thursday is an incredible novel. Completely blew my mind back then. I should probably reread it.