Wednesday, February 24, 2010

2002: February

What an abysmal month. I didn't read much and hardly anything stuck in my memory.

5. The Man Who Loved Children (novel) - Christina Stead. Australian author Stead gets the top prize for The Most Annoying Character Ever in this 1940 novel. The title character, Sam Pollitt, the father of a large brood (7 children) is unpleasant on so many different levels that I long to pick him up and bodily throw him out of the novel. Stead shows the reader and shows and shows and SHOWS and SHOWS what an ass he is and how his behavior is systematically tearing the family down bit by bit. Adding to the already distressing scenes is a sense of dislocation. It's like Stead tried to graft her 1910s Australian upbringing onto this 1930s American family, and everything feels irritiatingly off. Henny, Sam's wife in particular uses phrases that sound oddly clipped in that British sort of way. Even for all of that, the writing is powerhouse stuff and the story sweeps readers along. Check out that jangly cover art. That's an illustrator who definitely read the novel and perfectly captured the tone. This book is available as an audiobook, but it's painful enough to read the dialogue; I can't imagine listening to it.

6. Goodbye, Columbus (novella and short stories) - Philip Roth. I don't remember anything about the book, but I do remember that I didn't like it -- boring with unpleasant characters -- and I was put off reading Philip Roth for five years.

7. The Source of Trouble (short stories) - Debra Monroe. I remember Raymond Carveresque characters and good, solid writing, but nothing in particular.

1 comment:

  1. Great review Bybee - I don't think I'll bother with Goodbye, Columbus!