Book Review

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum

There are rules regulating what you wear and how you move, where you look and how you speak, some universal, some dependant on your position within the hierarchy. The protagonist is a Handmaid, one of the class of women kept for reproductive purposes. As such, she dresses in red, eats well, has regular health checks, is not allowed to read or write or have a personal name which instead had been replaced by a title: Offred, ‘of Fred’, ‘belonging to Fred’, her Commander.

More

Scritch, scratch

Liszt is a family name, but the family in question does not seem to be related to the Hungarian composer. Rather, it is a pun on ‘list’: cataloguing items and thoughts is more than a hobby for Mama Liszt, Papa Liszt, Winifred, Edward, Frederick, Grandpa, and the cat. It is their identity and an inherently solitary occupation the family share. ‘Mama made lists of ghastly illnesses and the greatest football players of all time. Papa made lists of dreaded chores and small winged insects.’

More

Neat, Clean, Shaved and Sober

Technically speaking, The Big Sleep is Frankenstein’s monster. Published in 1939, it had been assembled by Raymond Chandler out of two short stories: ‘Killer in the Rain’ (1935) and ‘The Curtain’ (1936). That might be the reason why The Big Sleep is not as accurately structured as a Christie novel, famously leaving out the answer to who killed the chauffeur. When Chandler was asked that question by Howard Hawks, whose writing team was working on a film adaptation of the novel, the author replied that he had no idea.

More

I See Cats

Lost at Sea is a road-movie kind of a book, with us following high-school graduate Raleigh and her accidental companions on their trip from California back to Toronto. By the end of the novel we are still on the road, maybe in Oregon (no one has been reading the map), and that is one of those stark illustrations to McLuhan’s ‘medium is the message’. As suggested by the title, the lack of direction is something that is acutely felt by Raleigh in regards to her life and can be recognised by anyone who managed to survive adolescence.

More