1001 Books October 2022 Round Up
This month’s winners and losers
Fools of Fortune by William Trevor BOTM – What GR says: an informer’s body is found on the estate of a wealthy Irish family shortly after the First World War, and an appalling cycle of revenge is set in motion. Led by a zealous sergeant, the Black and Tans set fire to the family home, and only young Willie and his mother escape alive. Fatherless, Willie grows into manhood while his alcoholic mother’s bitter resentment festers. And though he finds love, Willie is unable to leave the terrible injuries of the past behind. Pretty accurate summary
My Thoughts: This is a difficult one to rate it tackles an important point in history but it does it in such a way that all the “action” as it were happens off screen. As a reader I found myself frequently confused a major event would have occurred in the book but you would only find out what and how much later in the story at the point the event happen it was all shrouded in subtle hints as if the reader was meant to know what those hints meant. Perhaps we were, perhaps other readers did, perhaps it is just me that missed it.
For me the focus was too narrow I didn’t learn about the political issues or how/why Ireland became divided instead I learnt the impact of 1 event on a handful of key characters.
Due to the way the story is told I never really connected with any of the characters and while I appreciate the fact that political differences and violence has tainted the lives of the main characters I was not actually that moved by it.
I did enjoy the ending and the hope that it offered for the future however I couldn’t get behind Willie’s actions and reasoning with regard to his family.
3 Stars – a quick read and others found more in it than I did you could be one of the lucky ones.
Naked Lunch by William Burroughs .Tackle the TBR – What GR says: The book is structured as a series of loosely connected vignettes. Burroughs stated that the chapters are intended to be read in any order. The reader follows the narration of junkie William Lee, who takes on various aliases, from the U.S. to Mexico, eventually to Tangier and the dreamlike Interzone.
The vignettes are drawn from Burroughs’ own experiences in these places and his addiction to drugs (heroin, morphine, and while in Tangier, majoun [a strong hashish confection] as well as a German opioid, brand name Eukodol, of which he wrote frequently). This book is as messed up as that description sounds.
My Thoughts: The reason the chapters in this book can be read in any order is because they are so out there they don’t make any sense from page to page let alone from chapter to chapter.
I was not looking forward to reading this book and my experience bore this dread out. I am not the target audience I have no interest in illegal drugs or illegal highs nor in the down and out lifestyle that addiction seems to necessitate. If this was not a 1001 book I would have abandoned it but in my edition after the random, graphic nonsense that made up the original writings of Burroughs we then got several afterwords, prefaces and general comments from the author about the book and how it was written and that was fascinating.
I loved the way Burroughs explained his own battle with addiction and his many attempts at recovery. What drug regimens worked for him to combat addiction and which failed spectacularly. I appreciated his insight into how addiction to different drugs felt, what impact they had psychologically and how easy addiction is.
The additions also tell how the book came to be published, how Burroughs would write in a fever works which he would send to his friends Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac who would help make something almost cohesive of them. The book was originally published by a publishing house which took pride in being “shock jocks” and this book would certainly meet that standard.
After reading the additional writings I was left with the impression that Naked Lunch could be read as a warning against drug use rather than the glorification of that use. Given how awful the events in the book are I consider myself thoroughly warned.
3 Stars – Read this for the insights after the actual story unless you particularly enjoy degrading, violent, murderous sex scenes and copious drug taking in which case read it for that.
Have you read any of these? Let us know what you thought.