Saturday, December 5, 2009

Read-a-Thon Update #4

I've picked up Roberto Bolaño's The Savage Detectives again for the first time in a couple of weeks. I got sidetracked with reviewing and had to set it down for awhile. Unfortunately it has a huge cast of characters and a complicated plot so I had to go back a bit to refresh my memory. So I haven't gotten as far as I would've liked to but I feel like I'm back in the swing of the story now.

It's been almost twelve hours since I started (I started a couple hours early) and I would like to thank all of my commentators for their support! Keep up the good work guys!

And now for this hour, Reads4Pleasure would like to know who your favorite character is, who your least favorite character is, and why.


That's a tough one. I tend to focus more on great books rather than great characters. But Yossarian from Joseph Heller's Catch-22 is definitely one of my favorites. He's just so very sane and his world so very insane. Poor fellow.

Harry Haller from Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf is another. According to Hesse, Steppenwolf is about the problems of middle age but I totally identified with Haller and I'm only 24. Maybe I'm an old soul?

Jane Eyre from the Charlotte Brontë novel of the same name. She isn't wealthy or beautiful, but she is independent, intelligent, and knows how to stand her ground. Even today we still can't seem to write more great female characters like her.

Least Favorite

Henry Miller isn't really a character per se. But his memoir The Tropic of Cancer is written in novel form so I suppose he qualifies. It is the most disgusting, violently misogynist book I have ever had the displeasure to read. If I could, I would slap him.

English Major's Junk Food would like to know what your favorite classic is. Provide quotes!

I have several favorite classics but Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness in particular has some really great, dramatic passages.
"She walked with measured steps, draped in striped and fringed cloths, treading the earth proudly, with a slight jingle and flash of barbarous ornaments. She carried her head high; her hair was done in the shape of a helmet; she had brass leggings to the knee, brass wire gauntlets to the elbow, a crimson spot on her tawny cheek, innumerable necklaces of glass beads on her neck; bizarre things, charms, gifts of witch-men, that hung about her, glittered and trembled at every step. She must have had the value of several elephant tusks upon her. She was savage and superb, wild-eyed and magnificent; there was something ominous and stately in her deliberate progress. And in the hush that had fallen suddenly upon the whole sorrowful land, the immense wilderness, the colossal body of the fecund and mysterious life seemed to look at her, pensive, as though it had been looking at the image of its own tenebrous and passionate soul.

"She came abreast of the steamer, stood still, and faced us. Her long shadow fell to the water's edge. Her face had a tragic and fierce aspect of wild sorrow and of dumb pain mingled with the fear of some struggling, half-shaped resolve. She stood looking at us without a stir, and like the wilderness itself, with an air of brooding over an inscrutable purpose. A whole minute passed, and then she made a step forward. There was a low jingle, a glint of yellow metal, a sway of fringed draperies, and she stopped as if her heart had failed her. The young fellow by my side growled. The pilgrims murmured at my back. She looked at us all as if her life had depended upon the unswerving steadiness of her glance. Suddenly she opened her bared arms and threw them up rigid above her head, as though in an uncontrollable desire to touch the sky, and at the same time the swift shadows darted out on the earth, swept around on the river, gathering the steamer into a shadowy embrace. A formidable silence hung over the scene.

"She turned away slowly, walked on, following the bank, and passed into the bushes to the left. Once only her eyes gleamed back at us in the dusk of the thickets before she disappeared."
Kurtz's death scene is one of the best death scenes ever.
"One evening coming in with a candle I was startled to hear him say a little tremulously, 'I am lying here in the dark waiting for death.' The light was within a foot of his eyes. I forced myself to murmur, 'Oh, nonsense!' and stood over him as if transfixed.

"Anything approaching the change that came over his features I have never seen before, and hope never to see again. Oh, I wasn't touched. I was fascinated. It was as though a veil had been rent. I saw on that ivory face the expression of sombre pride, of ruthless power, of craven terror—of an intense and hopeless despair. Did he live his life again in every detail of desire, temptation, and surrender during that supreme moment of complete knowledge? He cried in a whisper at some image, at some vision—he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath:

"'The horror! The horror!'"


Anonymous said...

Yes! Jane Eyre definitely goes on the list of favorite characters!! I listened to Heart of Darkness in audio book form one winter and liked it, but I think I need to physically read it too, sometime soon.

Glad you're still liking The Savage Detectives - best of luck with more reading. I feel like the harder hours may be coming...!

Corina said...

I'm reading through a few blog posts while I take a reading break. I'm glad to see you updating and still reading. Keep it up!

readerbuzz said...

I'm listening to the story of Dylan Thomas, A Child's Christmas in Wales and checking through blogs. 2666...I say yes and then I say no. I'm sure it is wonderful, but is it what I want to read right now?

Hang in there.

Bitsy said...

I can't believe it's been over 12 hours already. We can do it though! Keep it up!

I love Jane Eyre too, have we had this conversation already?! I have never read Heart of Darkness though but now I think I will have to, it sounds wonderful.

Emily said...

Great job on the readathon, lady! I love Jane Eyre too, and Heart of Darkness. Well chosen!

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