Saturday, December 04, 2010

American Novel: Mini-Reviews

Same deal as my previous post, only in regards to my American Novel course.

The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner:
This stream-of-consciousness novel is horribly confusing and frustrating, but at the same time very intriguing and fun to puzzle out. It's also very depressing. But by the time I finished it, I had put so much time and brain into it that I have a fondness for it, and I can definitely appreciate the skill it requires. Oh, plot? It's about a Southern family that has serious problems, in the 1900s-1920s (the action goes over a large span of time). 4/5

Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich:
This was another painful book, but I wanted to burn this one for idiocy, which I did not want to do to Faulkner. It's set in a small, dying town, the plot revolves around a savage murder committed many years before the "present" of the story, but the way the murder is resolved is so anti-climactic I can't even talk about it. There are a few good chapters, for example one that is about an old man, his violin, and how they became soul-mates. ^_^ 3/5

Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin:
James Baldwin's writing style is one of my favorites ever (up there with Cornelia Funke and Tolkien and Henry Freaking James): it's really lyrical and tragic and beautiful. This novel is totally soul-crushing. Or just really, really annoying, depending on your mood, I guess. It crushed me. :P I had to go through the novel again for quotes for a paper, and was struggling against weepiness again (and I'm not really a weeper). It's not even the story, really, just HOW he tells it. I dunno. Oh, plot? Um, Paris, 1950s, gay scene, the question of women (Hella is FASCINATING). 4/5

Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine:
This is a graphic novel about a total jerkwad who has no friends and discovers WHY his life sucks. :) That's really all I can say about it. I enjoyed nothing, although I appreciated some of the things the author did with the art. 2/5

Yonnondio: From the Thirties by Tillie Olsen:
This novella has no plot and no ending. Just so you know. It's also a relentless, painful look at how the working class had horrible lives in the 1930s. I appreciated and sometimes even enjoyed the descriptions, and I thought the mother in the story was a very thorough characterization of a stay-at-home mother who works more than most professional women today. 3/5

Monkey Bridge by Lan Cao:
Another novel with almost no plot, although it DID have a beginning, middle, and end. The story is about a young woman who came with her mother to the states from Vietnam in 1975 (when the MC was a girl). It was fantastic to read about all sides of the war: the Northern Vietnamese, the Southern, AND the American soldiers. Chapter 6 is like another take on Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, and I really liked it. I really liked Cao's writing style, too. I also liked all the bits about the monkey bridges. :) Assimilation, karma, family memories, the past affecting the present, etc. 4/5


Snazel said...

I love your reviews. :D And I am glad that so many of them were positively received, even if they were so, erm, painful to read? *pokes Giovanni's Room with a stick*

Bahnree said...

I know, I was surprised how many of them I...felt favorably toward, even if I didn't exactly like them.