A Pale View of Hills is a short novel — arguably a novella — that centres around a woman named Etsuko who was born in Japan but has ended up in the UK after leaving a marriage behind. Set partially in the present and partially in the past, Etsuko reflects on a friendship she had with a woman named Sachiko.
When I start reading something like Bukowski (or Hunter S Thompson or Irvine Welsh), my lovely spouse always listens so patiently while I tell her about the book I’m currently in the middle of. Then she looks at me with that beautiful, quizzical smile and asks me why I torture myself this way.
Technically, the publication date on David Foster Wallace’s Something to Do with Paying Attention is 2022, because it is an extract from Wallace’s unfinished novel, The Pale King — specifically a monologue from one character that stands on its own as a novella.
Ethan Frome is one of the shortest classics you can read. My Penguin Classics edition clocks in at only ninety-nine pages. However, despite the length it is a powerful and sharp narrative full of symbolism, depth, and atmosphere.
One minute you’re reading an extended metaphor about moths, and the next you’re musing about the function of legs along with the narrator before being pleasantly plopped back into the story.
The novel uses its single sentence in a way that makes it an accessible and compelling read. It goes to show that it’s important to see beyond the quirks and give even the weirdest sounding books a chance.
The Catcher in the Rye is much maligned. Accused of being misogynist, homophobic, and other horrible things, it’s a book that many people have a very strong opinion about one way or another.
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 the book continues, the narrator becomes less and less reliable and also less sure of himself and what he is capable of. Desires, thoughts, and feelings pull Kochan apart with a slow intensity.