TheChocolateMelted t1_je93a9s wrote

Reply to comment by Purple1829 in Thoughts on Forrest Gump? by Purple1829

Gump & Co? Read it many years ago. The actual story itself seemed a bit subdued compared to the original. However, I'll immediately recommend it for the way novel Forrest refers to the Forrest Gump movie infiltrating and messing up his life, even meeting Tom Hanks at one point. Wonderful approach by Groom that I never would have expected.

You might also want to check out The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. Only read the first one (there's a sequel), but it's possibly even more satisfying than Forrest Gump. Lots of fun.


TheChocolateMelted t1_je53m62 wrote

Oh, just wait until you read 'The Swan' in that book ... Utterly magnificent. 'Henry Sugar' is also brilliant (Benedict Cumberbatch is perfect for the role) and 'The Mildenhall Treasure' blew me away too. 'The Hitchhiker' is just pure Dahl. It's a gorgeous collection.

His adult short stories are simply amazing. There's so much variety in them, often depending on which magazine they were being written for, but they are still so very, very well controlled. Just awesome. 'The Landlady', 'Beware of the Dog', 'The Man from the South', and 'Lamb to the Slaughter' plus the wonderful wrongness of the 'Uncle Oswald' stories ... Almost jealous of you having so many brilliant stories still to discover.


TheChocolateMelted t1_jdvar6g wrote

Tartt utterly impressed me with The Secret History. However, she left me more disappointed than possibly ever before with The Little Friend. The two books are extremely different in tone, topic, themes, language, character (and quality) in a way that Irving hasn't demonstrated in what I've read of him. The disappointment from The Little Friend has largely kept me from The Goldfinch thus far, but I haven't written it off completely.

I've found that Irving has too little variety in the themes or possibly the emotions his novels draw up. I'll happily defend Until I Find You, but none of his other novels have really blown me away (with the exception of a particular episode and the follow up in The World According to Garp). Oddly, I found that Garp lacked an overall focus and headed in the direction of being 'sprawling and meandering' to some extent, although I'd stop short of describing it as 'messy'. It didn't feel like Irving was building up to a specific conclusion throughout the story, while I've definitely seen that, to at least some extent, in his others.

Would definitely turn to Irving for coming-of-age novels though. For better or worse, he seems to be very much in his element there.

Irving's latest is The Last Chairlift. Haven't read it, but geez, is there a less intriguing title possible?

Oddly, one book I associate with the work of Tartt (The Secret History and the academic world it creates) and Irving (probably more for The Cider House Rules than any other) is Stoner by John Williams. It had a drastic critical reevaluation a few decades after it was published. Might be one for you?


TheChocolateMelted t1_jduq2x4 wrote

If you've enjoyed all of them so far, it's a bit brutal to say the spark is fading from just this one. It might be that he's trying something new - and it wouldn't be the first time - or that this one is just not for you. And that's okay too. But don't give up on an author who has hit the mark for you so many times based on just one misstep. As many negative things as I might have to say about him, I've got to admit that he deserves better than that.

Honestly, I feel a bit jealous that you've appreciated him for so long. Or maybe it's a feeling of respect? It's wonderful to think there are people like you out there who have kept up with him.


TheChocolateMelted t1_j9y3c6m wrote

None of the responses so far look at the relationship between the boy and the man. And that is what the book, at its core, is all about. The relationship is quite beautifully depicted. And this is despite - and frequently in response to - the situation they're in.

If you accept the dystopic, post-apocalyptic setting, there are a few pitch-black, horrific events that will probably not go down at all smoothly. I've not read The Stand, and can't really comment about the events in that, but will say that as a writer McCarthy typically has more ability than King to make an event hit you like a ton of bricks.


TheChocolateMelted t1_j9b8o7y wrote

The standards for vulgarity were quite a lot more restrictive 100 years ago than they are nowadays. Being blunt worked against writers. It's worth noting that readers were actually warned about the presence of bodily fluids/functions in this novel. Vague memory that the rejection of religion was a groundbreaking subject, but don't quote me.


The concept that comes to mind is a touch removed from your Joyce one. It's actually from Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie. The narrator describes censorship laws banning anything as explicit from kissing in Indian cinema at the time of the story. But then a filmmaker circumvented this by having two lovers kiss an apple and pass it back and forward between each other. Just a beautiful image. It's been popping up every so often for twenty years.


TheChocolateMelted t1_j99vt6r wrote

I'll agree that the character development is a bit slow moving. Didn't mind this personally. Although I understand if you don't enjoy it.

The friendship between Eleanor and her male colleague is worth sticking around for. It's surprisingly satisfying to read and extremely patiently and maturely handled. I've rarely actually come across something like this, or at least one that was brought off so smoothly. Unsure whether you're at the point of seeing that really develop, but personally found it was extremely satisfying.

The book does build up towards a strong conclusion, one that I would consider to pay off, but it's more than understandable if you find that it's taking too long to get there, especially with the difficulties of Oliphant's character.

And finally - Good on you for recognising it if you're not enjoying it. Sounds strange, but that's not always easy to do.


TheChocolateMelted t1_j68b54r wrote

Honestly don't remember the actual foods - apart from when his fiance puts sushi on a plate to spell out his friend's initials - so they could have been made up. There's also a point where he becomes frustrated with it all and just says it's overpriced with almost nothing on the plate. :-)

But what was it? The topics on The Patty Winters Show become increasingly crazy ... Not even sure whether I picked them up when I read the book, but someone listed them here once.


TheChocolateMelted t1_j67uggz wrote

Of course, there's an album that he buys three times because he wants to have it on every format ... Which brings it back to materialism.

Fro me, the music chapters show how he has to over-analyse everything, deconstruct it and take it apart instead of just enjoying it. Look at the praise he dumps on Huey Lewis and the News ... All those superlatives! Is that a fair, honest, appropriate assessment?

(Aware of the irony of over-analysing the music chapters after what I've just written!)

Edit: They also give us the scene in the filmed version where he monologues about Genesis (?). Pure brilliance!


TheChocolateMelted t1_j62u7f8 wrote

Fully understand where you're coming from. There's one exception I'm aware of, where the refusal to kill the main character is tastefully and sensibly done: >!The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris!<. His refusal to kill her fitted in entirely with the respect he developed for her over the course of the novel. It would have been a disappointment if he had gone after her.


TheChocolateMelted t1_j2dfi59 wrote

>So much of the joy in Shakespeare is taken out by high school English Studies though

Agree. I had a few teachers who turned it into little more than a 'translation' exercise. But it is awesome when you have the right teacher with the right Shakespeare text.

Also early/mid 90s in Australia with Lord of the Flies on the curriculum, but I loved it.


TheChocolateMelted t1_j2denxs wrote

1984 (George Orwell) for fourth-year high-school English and Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad) in sixth-year high-school English Literature. Both are brilliant and have stayed with me ever since.

We had The Hobbit (JRR Tolkien) in third-year high-school English. Enjoyed it, but reluctant to say it had a lasting impact.

Intro to Shakespeare was Julius Caesar in third-year high-school English. What a great way to start on his work!

Was somewhat jokingly told that we couldn't finish a BA in English Literature without reading Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. Fair enough too, but unfortunately less of an impact, possibly because its reputation left me expecting too much .


We also had The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald) and The Europeans (Henry James) in sixth-year high school-English Literature which did not work for me at all, but which I expect a few other people would have loved.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller was not compulsory, but what I read for a free choice assignment in third-year English. Absolute masterpiece and such a breath of fresh air from the typical set books up to that point. A massive impact on my life.


TheChocolateMelted t1_j295qbw wrote

You might like the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith. There's a very slow-burn romance between the detective and his receptionist/partner that is kind of the only constant from one book to the next (although I've only read the first five of the six published thus far). They're a lot of fun. Might suit you better.


TheChocolateMelted t1_j191fmf wrote

Solely from the popularity sounds unlikely, but spurred on or inspired by it doesn't sound improbable.

Seeing the way people relate to it might stir up ideas that the writer had discarded or not felt comfortable (for any reason, including brevity or ability) writing about earlier. They may not have fitted the original story, but with new ideas, might now have the strength for a full story of their own. Plus, the circumstances may have changed. Atwood wrote The Testaments as a sequel to The Handmaid's Tale and as a way of commenting on the world in the Trump age, partly spurred by the response to the TV series of the earlier book and the feelings that working on that series re-awoke in her.

Also think about how much doubt and uncertainty an author has when they're writing a book. Will it sell? Will it even be accepted by a publisher? It would be incredible if they felt enough passion to put another xx months/years of their life on the line to write a sequel at that point.


TheChocolateMelted t1_j0lkw84 wrote

In no way do I mean to be rude or offensive or to blame you, but from what you've written, the book just isn't for you. And that's fine. This isn't to suggest you're stupid or don't get the book, just that, as you said, it doesn't work for you. It happens.

To properly answer your question: It may appear poorly written to you, but it didn't meet your needs or your expectations. But this doesn't make it poorly written for other readers. Other readers have loved it, as you've acknowledged. And it's quite possible that their enjoyment and ranking of the book, as well as the general reputation, gave you expectations too high to ever be met. As for the pacing? Expectations nearly forty years ago are different to current ones. Perfectly understandable if it now appears slow to you. It happens.

Hope you do find something that works for you.