Book Review: A Bend in the River, by V S Naipaul, 1979

‘A Bend in the River’ reads like an updating of Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’, taken 60 or 70 years forward into the post-independence period. As with ‘Heart of Darkness’, ‘A Bend’ is set in an unnamed African country in the interior of the continent. The setting is not the only similarity between these books –Continue reading “Book Review: A Bend in the River, by V S Naipaul, 1979”

Book review: All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren, 1946

‘All the King’s Men’ is the story of the rise and fall of Governor Willie Stark in 1930’s America. The novel is narrated by Jack Burden, one of Stark’s assistants and “fixers”, who offers a detached, sardonic commentary on Stark’s progress to become Governor of his State. Stark starts his political life as a honestContinue reading “Book review: All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren, 1946”

Supplementary: Difficulty in Beckett’s’Murphy’

‘Difficulty’ is obviously a relative term – novels become more or less harder to understand depending on the perspective of the reader. Time alone will make contemporary references harder to discern; phrases in common usage in one generation will be meaningless to another. Nevertheless, some writers clearly do start out with the intention of makingContinue reading “Supplementary: Difficulty in Beckett’s’Murphy’”

Book review: Murphy, by Samuel Beckett, 1938

In a recent article about Beckett’s prose, the Guardian called him the “maestro of failure”, and described his work as being “a hypnotic flow of words, the meaning of which is initially utterly obscure…. but persevere and patterns emerge:” Or as one of his character says in this novel “It was like difficult music heardContinue reading “Book review: Murphy, by Samuel Beckett, 1938”

Book review: Under the Volcano, by Malcolm Lowry, 1947

At the heart of Lowry’s dark complex masterpiece, ‘Under the Volcano’, is his portrait of the physical, mental and psychological collapse induced by alcoholism. Geoffrey Firmin, former British Consul to a small Mexican town sitting in the shadow of two volcanoes (thus ‘Under the Volcanoes’ surely?) spends the last day of his life disastrously staggeringContinue reading “Book review: Under the Volcano, by Malcolm Lowry, 1947”