Salome – Oscar Wilde (Book Review)

Salome

I spent a good hour and a half reading Salome without prior knowledge of the story or it’s length. This one-act play details good old King Herod’s scheming to get in the pants of his young step-daughter. Salome, the object of his lecherous lust, is more than a little mentally unbalanced and prattles on endlessly to the prophet/prisoner Jokonaan (John the Baptist) in an attempt to ultimately gain a kiss from him. At Jokonaan’s refusal, she is rejected, scorned, and downright fuming.

Moving along, Herod convinces Salome to dance and she finally relents on the proviso that he owes her a favour. After she sashays around a bit, she requests (as most of us know) the head of said prophet/prisoner on a silver platter, to which King Herod responds with a lengthy soliloquy on what he would prefer to give her instead (not quite THAT honest actually…)
True to the biblical account, the head is served. But all does not end there!

On further research, it seems there are some magnificent paintings that accompany this brief tale but my version was text-only so I used my imagination. The question I am left with is how would someone never acquainted with the Bible story take this play? And what was Mr. Wilde’s intention?

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Shoovy Jed – Maureen Stewart (Book Review)

shoovy jed

I have a sentimental attachment to this book.

Written in diary format, Jed describes his pains, anxieties and ultimately the disturbing plans that occupy his mind. It ages well for the most part – Stewart doesn’t date the entries and handles the language with skill, although some of the vocabulary i.e. referring to something as ‘choice’ may not be relevant to today’s teenagers. Capturing words and slang is a challenge for a YA writer: jargon is a moving target and can often make a book feel dated and unrelateable.

However, this sad and oddly haunting tale of Jed reminded me again why I saw so much of my young, angst-ridden self amongst it’s pages.

“I’m just not normal, that’s all. Other kids seem so normal, so together. They laugh at dumb things. I only wish I could.”

A heart-breaking read.

The Unbearable Lightness Of Being – Milan Kundera

unbearable-lightness-of-being

This is a wonderfully written piece of philosophical fiction. It describes the intertwined lives of five characters, the aspects and characteristics that make them similar and different, strong and weak, independent and reliant. It’s about what haunts them, what they value, and why. It confirms the opinion that a person has only one chance at life and, as such, can only make choices once with no prior-life to look back on for guidance.

There was enough sex to cause me to flashback to the film ‘Closer’ (remember that one? Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, that sultry English-man and lots of rutting described by one critic as ‘rebid bunnies’?), but it was used well and demonstrated several points all the more clearly. The only section where Kundera started to lose me was his focus of ‘kitsch’ and the subsequent interlacing political discussion.

Overall, it was a fascinating book and I’d love to read more of his work.

The Book Thief – Book Review

The_Book_Thief_by_Markus_Zusak_book_cover

This is only a vague review because that’s how I felt about the entire book. It was vague.

The Book Thief left me feeling underwhelmed. As sometimes happens, my desire to love a book left it virtually impossible to impress and, as such, I have designated it to the box labelled “probably wouldn’t read again”. I’d still love to see the film out of curiosity but I felt that, stylistically, there was too much of the ‘down’ or ‘rest’ narrative and not enough tension. And any tension that did capture intrigue resulted in an anticlimactic sense of waiting. By the end there really wasn’t much happening.

The final eighth was the most impressive but it seemed like the author tried to bring the entire book to a head here. Overall, it was easy to read and very interesting from a writerly perspective, but I am happy to be putting it back on my shelf.