Sometime back a customer was pointing out to his teenage son something which we believe is not true. The man did not want his son to pick up some comics before we had an instant intervention the man made the mistake of saying really stupid in our store: “Comics are not books”.
With words that flow and caress and make use just the right amount of tiny details to get to the essence of the people that Robert Penn Warren describes.
This book is full of artful characterization and is most certainly worthy of a re-read. This is also a piece of history as the author brings alive the American South of 1920s and 1930s.
The story is about Willie Stark, man of humble beginnings who rose to a position of power as a governor of an unnamed Southern state and is supposedly loosely based on the life of Huey Long, the Governor of Louisiana. The main character is Jack Burden, the narrator of the story. He’s a reporter when he meets Willie Stark early on in his career and is there as witness to his political rise. Later, he works directly for Willie and becomes a key player in the blackmailing and political conniving that surrounds the Governor.
We get to know Jack through the people in his life as well as his own introspections and watch the orgy of events that grow in layers and complexity. Nothing is quite what it seems and there are multiple sub-stories that unfold as the basic action of the book trots along. Just when one begins to get grip of what is going one BAM! Yet another layer of depth and meaning explodes. In a very metaphysical way everything has an effect on everything else. This book is quite fast paced despite all the plots and sub plots going on and is quite impossible to put down.
This is not a read to be missed!
This great sweep of Durrell’s quartet is almost impossible to describe, but being Goobes, we are going to give it a shot!
Tis characters and the feeling of bing at wartime Alexandria are so perfect that you can almost smell and taste the perfume on Justine’s neck, hear the prayers from the mosques and smell the sand stained blood of camels butchered in the streets.
Here lie the poets and prostitutes, diplomats and gun runners. There is a plethora of scenes of lust and love and violence angst and despair.
The characters change as the story unfolds and then recoils upon itself again. We are as confused as the characters themselves and never find ourselves in a position where we understand events before they do. Myriad scenes tumble upon each other; a bird shoot on Lake Mareotis, the masquede ball, the strange death of Pursewarden, the dreadful death of Narouz. Across four volumes Durrell seldom puts a foot wrong and while his sonorous prose is not to everyone’s taste, nobody can deny that this is certainly an under rated classic of the twentieth century.
After the grim years of the Second World War and the grey, slow grind of the 1950s, the novel must have burst upon literary Europe like a banshee streaking across the sky giving enlightenment at a time of darkness.
Essential book for anyone who considers themselves well-read.