Today I’d like to review a book that has changed the life of many people and become a real classic: On the Road by Jack Kerouac. I read this book in the Penguin Modern Classics collection and I must say that I really like the cover of this edition, which is a 1952 black and white picture of Jack Kerouac and his friend Neal Cassady – whom the character of Dean Moriarty is inspired by. The book also has a really nice quote from Bob Dylan on the back: “It changed my life like it changed everyone else’s.”
I hope you’re having a wonderful beginning of week. Today I’d like to tell you about a novel I have recently read: The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber.
I did not especially enjoy this novel and this is why it took me quite a long time to finish it. Plus, it’s a loooong book (584 pages for the paperback). However, it’s probably worth telling you a bit about it because it contains some interesting elements and also because some people who have awesome reading tastes liked it (Jen Campbell, for instance) – so you may well enjoyed this novel!
The Book of Strange New Things is the story of a Christian missionary called Peter who is selected to take part in a huge project led by USIC, a mysterious organization/company that has colonized a new planet, Oasis. He is sent to this planet to preach to the Christian minority among the native people, the Oasans. The Oasans share some human features but they speak their own language and are considered as freaks by the people working for USIC. The hundreds of Oasans who are Christian and have named themselves “Jesus Lover number X” (replace X by a number) are deeply fascinated by the Bible, which they call The Book of Strange New Things, and very eager to learn more about it with Peter.
Tonight I am here to tell you about my first experience with a book club. This book club is a bit particular because it only meets once a year at the Southbank Centre during the London Literature Festival. I must admit that I randomly discovered the First Look Book Club when I was browsing through the London Literature Festival’s website, looking for events to attend. This is how I found this book club based on a very interesting principle: reading a book before its official release. Without knowing anything about the book that would be discussed, I bought my ticket.
I am sorry I couldn’t post last week, I had an extremely busy week and weekend but to have myself forgiven, I am going to post twice this week, and it is starting now with a review of Nemesis, a novel by Philip Roth.
Having recently read and absolutely adored two novels from Philip Roth, American Pastoral and The Human Stain, I have decided to read all of Philip Roth’s novels and chose Nemesis to start my Rothian reading marathon. Nemesis is Roth’s last novel and it was praised as a masterpiece by many reviewers, a “shocking gem” superbly ending Roth’s career as a novelist.
Today I’m here to tell you about the latest novel I have read: Consolation (La Consolante) by Anna Gavalda. It was the only book I hadn’t read from this French author, who is one of my favourite authors of all time.
As always, the plot is quite simple: Charles, the narrator, is a successful architect who lives with Laurence and their daughter Mathilde in Paris — actually, Mathilde is not his biological daughter but it comes to the same thing. After more than ten years, Charles and Laurence’s relationship is in a bad state. Charles lives his life being on autopilot. Until he finds something that brutally brings him back first to his past, and then to reality. One night, at his parents’ house, he finds an anonymous letter whose handwriting is not hard to recognize: it is a letter from his former best friend and neighbour, Alexis, announcing his mother’s death. Alexis’s mother, Anouk, was Charles’s first love.
Here we are, it’s time for my first review, and I am proud to do it on a novel that most of you would not have read nor heard about, I presume: Stoner by John Williams.
This novel was originally published by Viking Press in 1965. Its author, John Williams, taught literature and creative writing at the University of Denver for thirty years (which may explain why this novel focuses so much on academic life at the university…) and has written two poetry collections and four novels. This novel was reissued in 2003 by New York Review Books Classics and, in 2011, it was translated into French by Anna Gavalda and published by the publishing house Le Dilettante. This is the version that I read.