lastweeksapocalypse

Reviews
More
Bend Sinister

by

Ah, Nabokov, my favorite synesthete.The beginning of this book is kind of slow, though it works through parts of it (in parts, it feels like one is being led; in others, it feels like one is trudging). Overall, I would say it is what one expects of Nabokov: beautiful, somewhat self-conscious writing, engaging description, interludes of wordplay, and so forth. I admit that this book was kind of difficult to get through (the first five pages took me a week), but was good once I got into it. Exposition did not feel forced, which is always nice. The ending was... strange.In terms of ideas, I think this is a very excellent totalitarian regime, and a plausible dystopia (perhaps). Definitely should not serve as an introduction to Nabokov, because it is so slow (though I also do not think that Lolita ought to be one's introduction to Nabokov, since it is so taboo [even though it was my own introduction to Nabokov]). I don't know what I would recommend in its place.
Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat

by

When I first got this book, after a rather uneventful day, I was elated -- though slightly less so when I realized it is non-fiction, being more of a fiction person myself. I am also a cat-lover, so I figured that made up for it.Homer's Odyssey is a quickish read, with pace and vivacity that draw you in, and before you know, it is two AM. In the language Gwen Cooper uses to describe Homer, the blind kitten she adopted when no one else wanted him, the reader can see a nearly worshipful adoration, and an unquestionable amount of love. And how couldn't this cat deserve anything less?The stories of his adventures are heartwarming, inspirational and at times utterly heartbreaking. This cat, who no one thought would make it, much less lead a full life, almost immediately proved everyone wrong.While I was originally slightly disappointed that this book was a memoir and not quite what I was expecting, by the end, I realized that the tales of Homer the "Wondercat" were almost as grand as the tales his namesake wrote.
Fahrenheit 451

by

Having reread this book, I think it is more about the dangers of things like television than it is about censorship. As such, I feel it has an even stronger message than I originally thought. Censorship will be a fairly obvious phenomenon, and since it is easier to spot, it is easier to fight. However, the sort of voluntary censorship taking place in Fahrenheit 451 is a much more subtle, and much more dangerous, thing. Freedoms must be fought for, but sometimes this war is not with a government, but with oneself. I think this book illustrates the importance of, well, actually reading, instead of immersing oneself in the vicarious world of reality dating shows and daytime melodrama. Reading is a different, perhaps more human, kind of vicarious activity, one which ideally elevates instead of dragging one into the muck. I think that's important to keep in mind (though, for full disclosure, I do not always make the most elevating choices in television programs or books; I hope this helps steer my review away from the preachy).I would put this on my list of books that I think every person should read, even if they all get an entirely different message of it than I did (unless, I suppose, that message is "four-wall television would be awesome. I would give up books for that", which would be... not the point of this book at all).
The Master and Margarita

by

I love this book so much. It is hilarious, definitely, and delightfully satirical, but also critiques Soviet society very well. I, thankfully, first read this book in an edition with notes, and that is a definite necessity. I think it would have been absolutely impossible to follow the excerpts from the Master's novel without notes, and they did help with some social, political, and cultural context that greatly enhanced my reading experience.The translation I read is the Pevear / Volokhonsky. I've read a few other translations of theirs and admire them. So, that is a plus. I always value good translations, especially of Russian works.I am also glad that this was published after Bulgakov's, and that it was not discovered, because that would have led to his death, and to this work never being known, at least not for a long time, most likely. I also just like reading things written during the worst times of Soviet Russia, because it reminds me that it is always possible to fight back, even if no one else knows.
A Clockwork Orange

by

What scares me most about this book is how little any form of government is mentioned. Alex will make passing references, and is in fact used by a political party for their ends, but government plays a very small role in the daily life of Alex. This scares me because a totalitarian regime at least has the benefit of being obvious, and also grants the ability to point a finger at one's oppressors. A cultural dystopia is pervasive and difficult to spot.I think Alex demonstrates (in the 21st chapter, missing from this particular edition) the only solution to be found in such a dystopia, however unsatisfactory such a solution may be. I also agree with Burgess's dislike of being most well-known for this book, especially this book as a movie, based off the incomplete American edition, since it is somewhat... sensationalist? But, good book, I think, after you get over the initial hump of learning Nadsat. And only if you read the complete version, obviously.
Brave New World (MAXNotes Literature Guides)

by

Aldous Huxley is a fascinating person. In Brave New World, drugs are a means of government control; in other works of his (as well as, I imagine, he thought in his own life) they are a means of individual liberation (largely from... the world in which he operates... but I guess that further proves my first sentence), which is one of the most interesting personal contradictions I have encountered.I think Brave New World illustrates well the effects of a "happiness" based on instant gratification: one is the same at sixteen and sixty-four, solitude is unbearable, any form of denial is an affront to the ego, and so forth. It is also the more probable dystopia (of Brave New World and 1984); a government need not restrict if it can simply distract. I think a combination of A Clockwork Orange and Brave New World is also a probable future, current trends continuing.One major problem I have with this book is the division Huxley makes, and the impossibility of anything resembling genuine happiness or full humanity. The two options presented are the world of soma and the feelies and the world of the reservations. This is an unsatisfactory dichotomy, as it leaves no possibility of humanity in any modern, technological world; and not a single character in this novel achieves anything close to a full humanity. The only escape presented from this incomplete humanity is suicide, which defeats the purpose of attempting to be fully human. However, Huxley does apologize for this in the introduction to the Brave New World/Brave New World Revisited edition of this work, for which I am grateful.A thought-provoking work.
The Road to Serfdom

by

Despite a point of internal inconsistency (entirely understandable inconsistency, even), this book is a very good critique of socialism and of command economies. I especially appreciate his chapters on why the worst will come to power in this sort of system and on the infinity of human ends (which will necessarily be extremely limited by limiting the individual's economic capabilities).
Nosotros. Prologo de Julio Travieso Serrano

by

This book scares me.Though its ending and the ending to 1984 are very similar, and I knew this before reading We, the ending of We terrified me, while the ending of 1984 simply made me sad.I think this is because Zamiatin presents a world where one cannot be fully human. Everything in the society he paints is done for a purpose, done toward explanation, integration, quantification. Even art, here poetry, is subjected to further serve the United State; there is no free human endeavor. While mathematics and science can both be free endeavor, when they are used as a means rather than an end in and of themselves, they become constrained, even slavish.What also worries me about this book is the contrast it makes between the civilized, technologically advanced, ordered society of d-503, and the disordered, naturalistic, "barbaric" society beyond the Green Wall. Aldous Huxley makes a similar contrast in Brave New World (which he later apologizes for, thankfully), between the world of soma and instant gratification and the world of the savage, as does George Orwell (to a less obvious extent) in 1984 with the proles and the Party members. This recurring contrast seems to imply that it is impossible to be fully human in advanced society, and that one must throw oneself back to nature and technological regression in order to be human. This is entirely unsatisfactory for someone living in modern society (and in fact almost entirely incapable of "escaping").This book, quite honestly, changed my life; it affected me that much. It also encouraged me to articulate my thoughts and concerns about modern society, which was very beneficial. I highly recommend this book (and apologize for this novel of a review).
1984

by

When I first read this book, I was terribly disappointed. I had been told for YEARS that it was a piece of great English literature. When I began reading it and discovered that the writing style was a bit dry at best, I was angry, but trudged on, eventually realizing that it was called great not so much for its literary style but for its ideas. I am somewhat confused now by my original assessment, because there are certainly parts where I think that George Orwell demonstrates great literary talent (though, I suppose, as a whole, I stand by my original impression). Regardless. I have read this book three times, and the last two times, I cried, so it clearly has an effect on me. In terms of dystopia as the worst imaginable society, this book succeeds.
scribd