Graves has the unique perspective of being in the middle and a bridge between the command that used soldiers as canon fodder and didn’t fight, and those that were the fodder and lost their lives so meaninglessly.
The reader is treated to scenes, vignettes, lush descriptions of the landscape and the culture. Sit back and enjoy it. If you’re waiting for the plot to carry you, it just isn’t going to happen — and that’s not what Berlin Alexanderplatz is trying to accomplish.
As skilled and articulate as this novel is, it’s a difficult read. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the novel is the examination of performance both historically and in terms of the performances characters go through for the sake of saving face, or defending against impending decisions.
The Middle Parts of Fortune was published anonymously in 1929, only to be censored and re-issued as Her Privates We in 1930. I’m always on the lookout for good fiction around WWI, so I was excited to find this book on one of our trips to a small used bookstore for my birthday a few months ago.
Reading correspondence is not quite the same as reading a novel, obviously, but it can be just as valuable when it comes to understanding a writer, their work, literature of the period, or the general customs of the time period. Writers writing about writing can be a very enlightening read. This is a review of Letters to a Young Poet.
It’s a short, but compelling novel that is masterfully written for maximum impact. Larsen’s prose is incisive, blunt, and yet at the same time has a poetic flow and keeps the narrative driving forward smoothly but quickly. A perfect one-afternoon read. This is a review of Passing.