All the King’s men by Robert Penn Warren

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!

All the King's men Robert Penn Warren

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Excripts from an interview conducted with Chuck Palahniuk regarding his next novel.

Plans for his next novel, to be released in 2011.

“My next novel, the one for 2011 — argh, my life is so mapped out — is a novel called Damned about an eleven-year-old girl who finds herself in Hell and learns how to manipulate the corrupt system of demons and bodily fluids. Imagine if The Shawshank Redemption had a baby by The Lovely Bones and it was raised by Judy Blume, and you have my next new project. It’s so frustrating when this girl, Madison, realizes that she’ll never grow up and become an adult… and believe me, I know just how she feels. Each new day, I look at my chest in the bathroom mirror, sideways, and hope it’s grown.

Maybe if they could invent a 3-D mirror…”

It’s okay to begin getting excited now.

Courtesy Q&A Doubleday Interview with Chuck

Chuck Palahniuk

The end of a family story – Péter Nádas

The end of a family story, Péter Nádas. The Hungarian author’s first novel features a storyteller at its heart, a young boy’s rebellious, irreverent grandfather. “Grandpa used to tell me lots of stories. But not fairy tales, real stories,” the unnamed narrator recalls. The grandfather tells about his years in the army during World War II, about his youth (“Shall I tell you the story of the suit?”), and often he draws on the Bible for material, mixing psalms and scripture into tales of fairies and fishermen.

Fractured Hungarian history, bizarre genealogies-his stories are marvelous yet disturbing.

These yarns are in no way the only stories at work in Nádas’s novel. At its center is the narrator’s relationship with his elusive, undemonstrative father, a Stalinist functionary who betrays friends and family and later branded a traitor by those he worked for.

What makes The End of a Family History so powerful is Nádas’s use of the child narrator as a filter for the adult exposure of Communist Hungary.

People die, people are arrested, people disappear-events that adults may rationalize but that children find simply incomprehensible.

Written in chapter-long paragraphs and overflowing with fantastic imagery (octopuses that swim through the air; a fish in a bathtub; a secret garden) Nádas’s novel is heavily symbolic, psychologically acute, and infinitely compelling.

The end of a family story - Péter Nádas

Péter Nádas (born 14 October 1942) is a Hungarian writer, playwright, essayist. Other novels are Book of Memories (which has lead comparisims to Proust), the three-volume Parallel Stories (I: The Mute Realm, II: In the Depths of Night, III: A Breath of Freedom), Lovely Tale of Photography, Yearbook, On Heavenly and Earthly Love, and A Dialogue with Richard Swartz. Death is a recurrent theme in Nádas’ work, particularly in Own death, based on his experience of clinical death.

His writing has been described as intellectual, detailed, strong, innovative and demanding.