I should be writing an assignment for university right now. 2,000 words on how Eva Hesse’s art was, in many ways, a rejection of the masculinity of minimalism. It’s really fascinating but I’m not in the Art History mindset right now. With ABBA’s Super Trouper album currently spinning on my record player I’m ready to talk about books. My last five books are a varied bunch; two plays, two fictions and a memoir. As with my last post, I will not discuss the Shakespeare (Henry VI, Part 1) here as it is discussed on my Shakesyeare round-up here.
It’s probably best to do this in reading order, so let me tell you all about one of the most ridiculous, hilarious, and egocentric memoirs I’ve read in a long while. I’ll Never Write My Memoirs is Grace Jones’ attempt to write about her colourful life. As with a lot of celebrity memoirs this wasn’t actually penned by Jones herself, it was told to a journalist who then (somehow) turned it into a narrative. In almost 400-pages, Jones goes from her birth and childhood in Jamaica to her early career in New York and Paris ending in her present life between Britain and Jamaica. Every page tells a new story; Jones’ first time doing LSD, her modelling stint in Japan, her anger at French taxi drivers, her penchant for taking cocaine anally, her views of modern music and how “[Lady] Gaga, Madonna, Annie Lennox, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Miley [Cyrus], Kanye West, [and] FKA twigs” all copied her. I really enjoyed this maniacal romp through the life of one of music’s greatest performers. I personally adore Grace Jones and her music so it was a given that I’d like this. If you’re unfamiliar with Jones then it might be hard to get past the thick layers of narcissism but as a fan that comes as part of the mysticism of Grace Jones.
The Revenant is the story of Hugh Glass, a fur trapper in mid-19th century America. After being mauled by a bear, he is deserted by his fellow trappers which angers him so much that he sets off on a near Sisyphean journey alone through the American wilderness. C’mon, you’ve all seen the film, you know what it’s about. The film and the novel are fairly similar, the only place where they differ is the ending. I’m obviously not going to discuss the ending of the movie or the novel but I will say that the film takes a lot of poetic licence with the ending.The novel describes itself as a fictionalised account of a true story, Hugh Glass was real and he did get mauled by a bear. However the novel adds many layers to the story, Punke adds numerous characters to the story and he even slightly changes the real ending of the story. Punke’s novel is utterly thrilling and one that I found hard to put down. I ended up reading the whole thing in just about two sittings. In my mind, the movie and the book are equal, even if they tell slightly different stories. The Revenant is a good novel, something which I strangely struggle to find.
Now for the token awful novel. Here Are The Young by Rob Doyle is a vile novel. A work of such vivid bleakness that I struggle to even form words through my seething hatred. We follow a group of detestable young men around Dublin as they take more drugs than Hunter S. Thompson at a Grammys after-party. I’m not sure whether the author actually wanted us to sympathise with these delinquents but when he decided to have one character actually smile when 9/11 happens I officially went into auto-pilot with this novel. The faults of this novel are purely in the characters and the non-existent plot. The writing is actually quite good, you can tell that Doyle is an accomplished writer but his narratives need work. This novel is an unfortunate blot on the Irish literary scene, it tries to be Trainspotting but ends up being Naval Gazing.
For centuries it was believed The Revenger’s Tragedy was play by Cyril Tourneur, however it is now widely believed to be a work by Thomas Middleton. First performed in 1606, it tells the tale of Vindice whose wife is murdered by the Duke on his wedding day. Set on revenge, Vindice plans on killing the Duke but things go awry and he accidentally kills quite a lot of people. This is a very strange play. For example, at one point Vindice is disguised as Piato, however Piato is ordered to be executed. Vindice is picked as the executioner. So Vindice must somehow execute himself. The play is very playful and clever in these ways. Dipped in a sheen of dark, black comedy The Revenger’s Tragedy is a classic play of revenge that subverts the very genre that it helps create.
I hope you enjoyed this shorter round-up. I felt my last post (which included ten books) was far too lengthy and rambling to be legible. As a treat for making it to the end, take a break and listen to some Grace Jones. Become a slave to her rhythm.