A Cruel Man Delighting in Flowers

...the mildness to which men ... had yielded was only half of the intoxication of beauty, while the other half ... was of such surpassing and terrible cruelty—the most cruel of men delights himself with a flower—that beauty ... failed quickly of its effect... 

Hermann BrochThe Death of Virgil

 

Jeremy Davies is made of ink, but don’t dip a feather in him. It tickles. He once painted a fingernail black and no one really noticed. He was disappointed. He’s also an editor, a religious atheist, a liker of strong coffees, a Shakespeare-lover, a political anarchist and someone who rarely has a pen when he needs one. He has been a PhD candidate, a personal trainer, a life model, a bouncer, an infantry soldier and someone who rarely had a pen when he needed one. He has had words published in a variety of places, in a variety of publications, in a variety of forms, in a variety of moments: Canada, Wet Ink, SMS and twelve minutes past three in the afternoon being some of these. His first novel, 'Missing Presumed Undead', will be re-published by Satalyte Publishing in February 2014. A second is on its way.

Cassandra: A Novel and Four Essays - Christa Wolf, Jan van Heurck Forced to read this book due to a third year literature course, and being a lover of great literature as well as 'fireside' reads, I got some chuckles from the 'elitist' ramblings of other reviewers regarding the complexity and importance of this book. I agree that anyone who doesn't 'get it' when it comes to this book - particularly after reading all the exegetical text that goes with the story - must be a little simple; Wolf's narrative touch is as subtle as a poorly wielded jaw-bone. This is such horrid revisionism and politically motivated story-telling as to make a thinking reader retch. Wolf dips her toes into Aeschylus' ocean of ideas, shrinks back from the cold, and retreats to the comfort of the sand. If the writings of the Ancient Greeks are considered misogynist (which I don't believe), then this text, judged by thar standards, is misandrist to the point of mania; I mean, the archetype for the modern misandrist novel is to make the central male figure incompetent, sexually disfuntional, emotionally disfuntional, ugly/sleezy, hate-filled, bitter and compulsively obsessed. This is almost a how-to book; 'An Idiot's Guide to Writing A Misandrist Novel'.

Having said all that, Wolf is certainly not a poor writer; her craftsmanship is excellent. The characters she chooses to portray more than one dimensionally are vividly drawn. If the type of book described above is up your literary alley - and there is a market for this type of book, unforunately - then you'll really enjoy it.

Addendum: No, this book is not a difficult read: the story itself is actually quite fluid. The style does not even particularly reflect that strange misnomer: 'stream of consciousness'. Thematically it is simple in the extreme, and could easily be an almost silver-clear reflection of a high school level western sociology textbook. I would call it 'Literature Lite' if I didn't object to the oxymoron. Please, read Aeschylus, if not Homer just to get some stylistic perspective.

Or, read Manfredi's The Talisman of Troy if you want to see how this kind of thing can be genuinely handled.

Currently reading

Lyrical and Critical Essays
Albert Camus
The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages
Harold Bloom
The Rebel (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)
Albert Camus