After finishing one experimental novel , I didn’t expect to read another one so soon. At first glance Blood and Guts seems like a Young Adult novel but it’s totally different than that.
Janey is a ten year old who is abused by her father , and is sent to New York from her Mexican home. The thing is that Janey is an unreliable narrator so certain events may not take place and could just be the scribblings of a bored teenager. As the novel continues we find out that Janey has a dull job and is later kidnapped and sold into slavery.
In between this us readers are subjected to pornographic illustration , free form poetry and sentences translated from Arabic into English. Plus a lot of sub conscious rambling.
Now I may make this sound negative but it is a good read , again like the previous novel, one cannot fully appreciate Blood and Guts … after the first read. It definitely deserves more so that the complex narrative comes out better. What I can say though is that this is a very post modern novel as it deconstructs the idea of a book and then takes it to other dimensions through adding other literary styles randomly. As experiments go , I do see this as a success.
oh and mega kudos for mentioning this band :
To be honest you cannot really read a book like Larva once. It’s got so many layers and hidden meanings that the first reading is almost superficial. In essence if you strip away the wordplay , the side notes, footnotes , illustrations and pictures you get a simple romance. Man sees a woman fleetingly at a party and then spends the rest of the bash chasing her and , spoiler alert , he gets her and live happily ever after.
Now in-between that is a party of the most hedonistic proportions ever. Sex , drugs , food , fights , puppets , EVERYTHING is going on in the most crazy and insane fashion and it’s all told through tons , no millions of puns.
Larva is a book about how to make the most out of a word. It is all about punnage and nothing else. The amount of wordplay is absolutely mind boggling and a lot of them are hilarious, and this was just my first reading.Imagine what else will emerge if I pick it up again in 5 years time. Plus it does help if you know at least three languages , a working grasp of films and of London. It’s not necessary but it helps.
I know in the past I have lambasted the experimental novels in this list but this one is truly special – and unique. In fact I couldn’t put it down , which is weird as I’m quite a slow reader.
I guess I should really re read an Infinite Jest then?
One thing I definitely do recommend is re reading a book , nine times out of ten you will see it in a different light , maybe I should have done this with the other books I had read before when I started to tackle this list , but now the damage is done and I can only look forwards or is that backwards.
Anyway , when I first read Nights at the Circus back in 1999 I liked it, not loved it though, In fact I read Angela Carters short stories (which are amazing) and her last novel, Wise Children ( which is a vulgar romp of a novel) and I thought they were far superior than ….circus. As time flies, I have changed my mind.
The book begins at the turn of the 20th century and an American journalist is interviewing a woman with wings and the first part of Nights at the Circus focuses on Fevvers ( sounds like feathers) life. The second part has the journalist joining the circus and his interactions with different aspects of circus and life , and the third act is about the circus train crashing in Siberia and the troop surviving. Fevvers plays an integral role in the last two parts as well.
This is a novel that is hard to pigeonhole. Parts are rooted in feminist literature , a good chunk is magical realism , there’s slapstick , Gothic horror and quite a few philosophical moments. It is beautifully written , with each word having its own special place in the book. The one and only regret I actually have with this book is that I finished it. I took ages as I wanted to soak up each and every word. A momentous novel.
Honestly , I really want to like this novel. It has it all. Loads of revolutionary ideas , an interesting plot, cool character. In fact this is one of those defining novels. Unfortunately I was left with a bit of a sour taste in my outh after reading it.
Case is a computer hacker (or cowboy) , unfortunately he betrays the company that he’s with and as a punishment he is rendered unable to hack anything. That is until a mysterious agent called Armitage helps go back to normal in exchange for a massive hacking job. Which has some unexpected results. Along with his sidekick Molly , Case fights off a lot of strange characters just to break into this computer.
Sounds thrilling? well it is. It’s like a modern detective story disguised with futuristic setting and that is precisely my gripe with the book. Gibson uses a lot of jargon , a lot , most of it made up (with the exception of cyberspace, which is now in everyday vocabulary) and for me, this clouded my understanding of the novel. Confused me even. I had quite a bit of trouble whether he was referring to a computer or a person or a device. So while I loved some bits , others just annoyed me.
Saying that I think a second reading in a few years time could change things!