A boy raised in the Calormen desert south of Narnia meets a talking horse and flees a life of slavery on a journey north. Lewis’s Christian symbolism grows even more painfully obvious here, espousing an outdated fable of a heathen from the backward Pagan lands (Calormen) embracing Jesus (Aslan) as he works to get to heaven (Narnia). This feels more egregious when you consider Lewis’s treatment of Calormen with a Middle Eastern theme, though his protagonist’s skin is “fair and white” like the “beautiful barbarians of the north.” Combine this with an unimaginative plot and the result is….not worthwhile.
In a vastly overpopulated future, London’s Ministry of Infertility coerces the populace to either stop having children or take up with your own sex. Though the concept has tremendous potential, Burgess seems more interested in his theories of overpopulation and cycles of government than in the plot, which merely serves as a vehicle for his ideas—as thought-provoking as they are, the book itself is a bit of a slog. Its 1960s treatment of homosexuality is also downright insulting today, combined with a few cringeworthy thoughts on race. Better to read A Clockwork Orange and leave this one buried.
Four lonely people in a Southern town search for meaning outside of life’s banalities, brought together by a deaf-mute who’s mourning the loss of his closest friend. Parts of this book resonated with me strongly as the characters express their inability to fit into the world around them, especially Mick’s analogy of the outside room where she performs for society versus the inside room where she enjoys her secret love of music. The rest of it, however, moves painfully slowly, with long chapters and dialogue that hasn’t aged well, leaving its raw power to be deciphered rather than enjoyed.
Fight Scenes is about growing up in the 1980s with your friend whose dad keeps naked pictures of women he’s slept with under his bed; it’s about dealing with bullies and looking at porn with girls you like and sitting in front of the 7-Eleven and smoking pot in the woods and fending off crazy racists at the local Popeye’s. Bottoms shows us these moments in a series of vignettes that all say more than they seem to at first glance, so that the book shows us both his ridiculous middle-school adventures and how fucked up life can be.
Where I Got It
A 2016 Christmas gift from the same friend who got me Rose of No Man’s Land, which is also pretty rad.