Friday, May 19, 2017

100 Best Novels Roundup, Vol. 3

As I near the end of the 100 Best Novels challenge, I've been condensing my reviews into these roundups. Here are mini reviews of the two novels from the list which I read in April:
The Naked and the Dead

Title: The Naked and the Dead
Author: Norman Mailer
Publication Date: 1948
Pages: 721
Genre: Classic / Historical / Fiction
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels
Date Completed: 4/11/17

What I Thought: I'll be honest... Sitting down to write this review, I remember very little of this book. I only finished it nine days ago, but I'm struggling to recall much of what happened. I think such an admission is actually quite representative of my feelings of this novel in general.

I'm sure I'll grouse about this more when I do my final 100 Best Novels overview post, but I am just so tired of war stories. I recognize what hugely impactful events the world wars were. It makes sense that every book written around that era at least references them. Still, it's hard for me to connect with stories of soldiers on the battlefield. I have absolutely no life experience which can help me understand such circumstances. I know, I know. That makes it even more important for me to be reading these stories. I get that, too. I just...I'm tired of them. There are so many unique stories to tell in the world and I'm annoyed by the high number of stories from the trenches that made it onto this prestigious list.

I recognize Mailer's skill and why this book became such a sensation. It just didn't work for me personally. It did, however, make me wonder if there will ever be such an event that every single story of this era will center around it. Is there anything left that can unite our stories in such a huge way? Would it take another world war?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Nope

The Studs Lonigan Trilogy
Title: The Studs Lonigan Trilogy
Author: James T. Farrell
Publication Date: 1935
Pages: 988
Genre: Classic / Historical / Fiction
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels
Date Completed: 4/30/17

What I Thought: We're now officially into the books that I've had to purchase in order to get my hands on them. Farrell's Studs Lonigan trilogy proved itself difficult to hunt down in any library or used book store. Thank goodness for Amazon.

I was thankful to get this book as a compilation set. There are several series on the list and I've grouped them each together as one "book," just as the list does. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I enjoyed Farrell's voice and I liked how the story of young Studs Lonigan was broken into the different sections. Young Lonigan was my favorite, but each of the books had its charms. I especially liked that Farrell skipped over the World War. It was a rare choice to make for an author writing about that time and I liked that he did it. As I just mentioned above, I'm really over World War stories at the moment. So, it was nice to focus on the time outside of the wars and just how people and families were living in the meantime. I also liked that, while Farrell does deal with Lonigan's emerging sexuality and his struggles to understand and deal with it, he doesn't make it overly graphic. It's a part of the story as it would be for just about any young man, it's even a focus at times, but it's not continually over-the-top in its descriptions. Overall, I liked this series.

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Maybe

Title: Scoop
Author: Evelyn Waugh
Publication Date: 1937
Pages: 222
Genre: Classic / Historical / Fiction
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels
Date Completed: 5/4/17

What I Thought: This is the third and final Waugh novel on the list. In general, I have enjoyed his sardonic approach to his era. A Handful of Dust was good and I really quite enjoyed Brideshead Revisited. For me, Scoop was not as good as its two brothers, but I still enjoyed it. It had a very different approach, focusing on journalism of the era rather than a romance of any kind. I liked the departure, but had a harder time following and enjoying the story.

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Maybe

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