Food merely whets our appetite, sharpens our teeth; meat makes us ravenous for more meat, as death is ravenous for more death. Murder makes us ravenous, fills the soul with satisfaction that is fierce and then luscious enough to create a taste for further satisfaction.
House of Names · Colm Tóibín
Scribner, 2017 · 275 pages, hardcover
The curse placed upon the House of Atreus…Colm Tóibín’s most recent novel, House of Names, is a retelling of the ancient story of Clytemnestra. It tells of her husband’s, King Agamemnon’s, sacrifice of their daughter Iphigenia so that the winds of war may blow in his favor. It tells of their son Orestes’ escape and their daughter Electra’s imprisonment. It tells of Clytemnestra’s affair with the prisoner-come-king Aegisthus and the manipulation they played in the name of love and power.
Tóibín tells the story through the eyes of Clytemnestra, Electra and Orestes. His finesse lies in his control of language and perspective, which shift with each narrative. His words are of the simplest nature, but he pulls the strings of linguistics to make the words bleed from his pages. Continue reading
Orhan Pamuk’s Snow begins as a novel that had a good shot at feeding the intellect but instead contorted itself into a soap opera complete with convenient fixes for its weaknesses.
Snow · Orhan Pamuk · 2002
Maureen Freely translation · Vintage, 2005 · 463 pages, paperback
A political coup that manipulates the theater to confuse and gain power? A string of suicides inspired by Turkey’s uncertain position on the East-West divide? An exiled poet who just might find enlightenment in the forsaken streets of his home town? Pamuk’s writing in Snow (originally published in Turkey as Kar) is too placid for the story he wanted to tell. We read the few moments of heightened drama in this novel in a detached way, as if we’re too tired to keep our eyes open and our brains can’t hold onto the words we’re reading: we just don’t care. Continue reading
Doom-boom. Doom-boom. Doom, doom, doom. Doom-boom. It’s a quieter kind of evil, but it’s an evil that reaches throughout all Middle-earth. Tolkien proves in the first part to his Lord of the Rings trilogy (actually six books in three parts) that subtlety makes for powerful magic.
The Fellowship of the Ring · J.R.R. Tolkien · 1954
Mariner, 2012 · 398 pages, paperback
Frodo inherits more than a hobbit hole and an adventuring spirit from Bilbo Baggins when he moves into Bag End. The Ring he’s left holding is cursed with dark magic, and he’s set on the quest to destroy it – far South and East into Mordor, into the heart of Sauron’s territory.