Tag: Challenge

Ralph Ellison – Invisible Man | Review

Title: Invisible Man

Author: Ralph Ellison

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 478

Rating: 3/5

Okay, first thing’s first – don’t get this confused with the H. G. Wells novel, as apparently some people do. There was no chance of that here because I’ve already read the Wells novel and I’ve also already come across Ralph Ellison, and so I’d been looking forward to getting to this one.

Unfortunately, I just didn’t really engage with it. It’s not as though there’s anything wrong with it, although it’s perhaps a tad overwritten here and there and it’s definitely way longer than it really needed to be. It gets its point across, but it gets its point across pretty early and then just keeps on reinforcing it.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate this book for what it is, and it was definitely an important milestone in modern literature, especially in America. It does a great job of portraying the African American experience and shining a light on it from a different angle. It’s just that it isn’t particularly accessible, especially to a modern reader. Or maybe that’s just because I’m a white British dude.

I suppose I was just hoping for something like To Kill a Mockingbird, and while this does cover a lot of similar societal issues, this leans too heavily on the message and doesn’t leave the reader any room to arrive at their own interpretation. It’s sort of clunkily done, and it doesn’t have the engaging core story line that Harper Lee had.

And here we arrive at my biggest problem with this book, and that’s that I just don’t have anything else to say about it. This poses a challenge, because each of my reviews has the same word count as the book has pages, and so I’m going to have to bulk this one out a bit. Sorry about that – but on the plus side, we only have 150 words to go.

I think what it all comes down to is that I had high expectations for this one and then it just didn’t quite deliver. It’s one of those contemporary modern classics that I’ve heard a lot about, and I’d been feeling bad because I hadn’t got to it. Then I picked it up and felt glad that I’d left it as long as I did.

So it’s not that it isn’t worth reading, it’s just that it’s definitely not for everyone and it also feels like a product of its time. If you can get over that then I’m sure that you’re in for a lovely old time, but it just wasn’t for me. It failed to grab my attention from the outset, and even if it had managed to redeem itself, I would have got bored again anyway. So maybe skip this one unless you have to study it.

Learn more about Invisible Man.

 


Irvine Welsh – Porno | Review

Title: Porno

Author: Irvine Welsh

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 486

Rating 4/5

 

 

This is a heavy old read, but what else would you expect from Irvine Welsh? In fact, because the print in this thing is so small, it felt as though it was longer than it was, so I ended up reading it over the course of a month or so, 25 pages at a time in bed. It’s pretty weird bedtime reading, but it was also a good way of doing it because it meant that the story unfolded in real time.

This is the book that the second Trainspotting movie is based on, and indeed it is a sequel, at least in that it follows the same characters. In this one, Sick Boy decides he’s going to make a porn movie, and we follow what happens as he starts shooting and editing the thing. Renton comes back from Amsterdam to help with the funding, and Begbie has been released from jail and is out for blood and vengeance.

There was good and bad to this, but I think that the good mostly overpowered the bad and made this one worth reading. My main complaint with it would be the ending, and even then it’s not as though I didn’t like what happened. It’s more that it felt rushed, especially the last ten pages or so, but then I’m also not sure I could have kept on reading it for too much longer.

 

 

What I did like is that we get to see a whole bunch of familiar faces including “Juice” Terry Lawson, who’s one of my favourite of Welsh’s creations. I also feel as though there were one or two minor characters that I’d come across from Welsh’s short stories, although I couldn’t swear by that. He builds these super realistic worlds which are arguably so realistic because he grounds them in our reality.

So all in all then, I was pretty happy with this one, although as I said, it’s not one that I’d recommend going into lightly. The tiny print and the Scottish dialect combine to make it a challenge, although Welsh also does a good job of spacing out the dialect-heavy sections with other sections that are written in regular English. These sections also allow us to see what’s happening from a few different points of view, and that’s cool because it allows us to get a different take on what’s happening.

Would I recommend this? Sure, if you’re an Irvine Welsh fan, but you ought to read Trainspotting first. I also don’t think that they’re the best of Welsh’s books (my favourite is Marabou Stork Nightmares), so it’s not exactly the perfect place to start. But if you’re a fan of Welsh’s writing then you’re going to get more of what you love here. And I’m glad my cat picked this out.


 

 

Click here to buy Porno.

 


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