Hellllo readers, another day another review; today’s book is a really interesting novel that I picked up when at my local library. Libraries are brilliant for us who hoard books (book bloggers I’m looking at you.) Quite often I read books and although I enjoy them, I’m not truly happy with them and I don’t feel the need to necessarily keep the books. The memories of reading the novel are enough and this was one of those books. I can’t decide whether I *liked* this book yet, but it was certainly an experience as such. My review of Gerald’s Party by Robert Coover
Robert Coover’s wicked and surreally comic novel takes place at a chilling, ribald, and absolutely fascinating party. Amid the drunken guests, a woman turns up murdered on the living room floor. Around the corpse, one of several the evening produces, Gerald’s party goes on — a chatter of voices, names, faces, overheard gags, rounds of storytelling, and a mounting curve of desire. What Coover has in store for his guests (besides an evening gone mad) is part murder mystery, part British parlor drama, and part sly and dazzling meditation on time, theater, and love.
Gah I think I might have gone classic crazy; I’ve gone from detesting them to utterly adoring them in a matter of months. Little Women, and Ulysses are both on the cards although we’ll have to see how they go. In terms of today’s book the narrative follows the almost hallucinogenic nightmare of confusion and turmoil of the rather simply named Gerald’s Party. The book follows the absurd affair as we follow Gerald and his unnamed wife as they entertain dozens of different character. There’s Vic, Dickie, Kitty, Iris, Lloyd, Patrick, Allison and her husbands and numerous others but you would need a checklist to keep an eye on all of them.
Additionally as the blurb suggests there is the body, curled up on the floor amongst the partiers that belongs to the actress named Ros. With a gushing hole in the centre of her chest the mayhem is stirred and her jealous husband Rodger gets a little frantic. With the Police called; (Fred and Bob) and their homicide detective (Nigel Pardew) a rather odd character who immediately demands the watches of all those that have entered (later deducing that the murder happened half an hour before they arrived.) It sounds pretty normal but the writing style is anything but. Dialogues over-lap, characters movements do too. We’re in the garden, bare feet against the grass, then suddenly in the kitchen seeing Gerald’s wife cooking more and more food for the stacked table, then with his son Mark and his mother and law. It all overlaps haphazardly and confusingly. Characters melt into one.
The thing is that ‘Gerald’s Party,’ is noticeably about time, quite obviously shown in the removal of the watches. The party seems to stretch for hours whilst the guests waver in and out of drunkenness. They’re also piles of sexual activity. Each of the couples appears to have at least one other sexual partner at said party and at one point we see Gerald wiping the bottom of a woman who has to put it nicely ‘lost control of her bounds.’ The sexual energy during this is scene is both baffling and amusing. It is riotous read that ploughs through taking the reader whether they want to or not.
I must admit I think I will one day when older I will maybe try this novel again. The effect of the writing for me becomes a little too excessive. The repetition at the beginning is exciting and intriguing but it quickly wears off. The startling acts of the characters becomes too over the top and audacious. For me it is a very evocative and fascinating book that was a bit to jolty to really carry it off and although the idea of time being non-existent at the start was exciting two hundred of so pages in I was starting to lose my stamina. I found that the book felt like a jigsaw puzzle I had to put back together again but had no chance of doing so.
Overall I will probably look at this review in a few years and feel silly but right now this book was really difficult for me to read. I found it really interesting to read and I would definitely recommend but it is honestly nothing like I have ever read before.
*Sighs* this might be my favourite Top Ten Tuesday post so far. The actually topic is Ten books that would be on your syllabus X 101. Examples include YA, fantasy, classic literature, feminist literature, you get the idea. I’ve picked ‘life 101’ and I mean it, not in a literal way, but more of the way in which books teach you something. These books include teaching you how to pick yourself up, get over heart-break, family strains. These are the books that have given me something back.
1) The Last Lecture by Randy Pauch
This book, honest to the word, has helped in ways that I could have never expected it to. It talks of life in such an honest, wonderfully light and subtle way, but it talks of death, love and family too. The fact that author is dying as we read along makes it feel all the more destructive but it has a calming presence. It talks of never wasting time, living every day the way we want to and to take control. I haven’t really looked back since finishing this book.
2) Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos
I’ve never reviewed this book for mylittlebookblog, but I think I might soon. The book follows the main character as he comes to terms with his sister’s death from anorexia. It highlights the struggle of family life, the tough decisions we have to make, and the loss of people close to us. It’s a tale that I always dip into now and again and it’s written in a wonderfully lyrical style. My and sister and I rarely got on a couple of years back but now we’re a solid pair of besties. She’s one in a million.
3) ‘Giovanni’s Lover by James Baldwin
When I first started this book I didn’t think I would finish it let alone make its way onto this list, but this book taught me that there are some things, we cannot take back. I went through a lot of time not caring how I made other people feel because I barely cared about myself, at all. This book taught me that our decisions, our words, our actions towards others can be detrimental to people that we love. I know it seems trivial but I needed this to speak to me and tell me I needed to stop being an ass.
4) Eat, pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Maybe a controversial choice, but this book helped to change the perception that I needed to plan out, almost exactly, how my life was going to pan out. I panicked about too many different elements in my life; relationships, career, where I was going to live etc. The mother bought this and told me to read it, get some perspective and calm the hell down. This was the starting blocks to letting go a little more and trusting me more.
5) Remember to breathe by Simon Pont
I have written about this book many, many a time but reading this really helped to break through my wailing and make me think that the collapse of my relationship was merely a blip in the road. I’ve met someone who is miles better for me, and just gets me and this book helped to smooth over all the feelings that were raging at the time.
6) Factotum by Charles Bukowski
Another maybe, odd choice? I’ve always worried a lot about where I’m going to be, in terms of career and this book made me think. I know that what I’m doing right isn’t right for me, it’s not challenging me but the main character in this book is all over the place. He’s changing jobs every second, turning up late, drunk, forgetting things falling asleep. Although quite obviously isn’t the way to do it, the way that you can change your life and do something else, even something polar opposite, made me positive that I’m never stuck. I can always go a different way.
7) The Fault in our stars by John Green
This also wasn’t going to make the list but I thought, fuck it. It’s a book about adoration, love, belief and pain. But it’s a tale that teaches us that pain and hurt exist, but to live in the present, in the moment you might say if you’re feeling all gushy. This book is worth a bloody read.
8) The Chocolate Run by Dorothy Koomson
I know this appears in all my lists but I couldn’t help myself once again. As I’ve come to terms with my anxiety many things I thought were ‘control-freak,’ tendencies were in fact my anxiety. I’ve struggled with losing friends in the past, holding on despite deceit, awkward silences and their brush-off manner. This book taught me it is okay to lose people, not because you want to but because it’s better, often for both of you.
9) Pearshaped by Stella Newman
Another tale about relationships but taken from the other side this book looks at the problems of unhealthy, manipulating and downright awful relationships. We are allowed to say when something is not up and stand up for ourselves. This books says that, loud and clear.
10) Finally, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol
I picked this because, some of the quotes features are so profound and special. I often like to ask people if they would like to be friends with Alice or be Alice, because her sudden change in perception is mind-blowingly beautiful. There are so many twisted bits of knowledge woven in and we see Alice grow as a person. It’s a classic book that means a lot to me and many readers and I’m glad it’s made the list.
I wrote a lot more here than I thought I would surprisingly but I thought this was a list where you really needed to explain why they made the list. This isn’t an extensive list (obviously) and when I read Wild, which I will do, I might have to include that as a bonus book because I think it might just change my outlook on everything but we’ll see. Another day another book.
I do love it when people comment and ask me and the choices, the reasons, and just hearing what you would add so if you have anything pop in down in the comments below. Lots of love and hugs, lizzy. X