The soul of Twitter

I've been feeling bad about the books that lie unblogged in my wake. I've also been reflecting on the one-line review as a particularly artful and expeditious reading record. The harbinger of one-liners, Twitter is bagged for eroding language and maiming expression, but it could equally prove a useful discipline, a healthy moderation. Brevity, after all, is the soul of wit. In the spirit of Twitter, then, herewith some 140 character (count them!) reviews of my recent reads.

Served with a mint julep and a jazz band, Gatsby, Fitzgerald’s greatest, shatters America’s gleaming dreams on the dark shore of modernity.

In Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel remarkably makes both Thomas Cromwell and historical fiction rich, rounded, beguiling, believable and likeable.

Brutal sins long hidden surface on the southern coast in The Broken Shore, Peter Temple’s bleak, bluntly understated slice of modern gothic.

My Brother Jack calls up classic Australian types, the literate prig and the larrikin digger, to chronicle a young nation’s wars and wounds.

The Other Side

Skipping across the Atlantic for a time, though staying in the twentieth century, here's a snippet of F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise. The Great Gatsby pretty consistently gets in among top 100s, and is regularly offered as the greatest novel of its century. I frankly don't see what all the fuss is about, but the other Fitzgeralds I've read give indications of a supremely gifted writer. I love the blend of lyricism with cynicism, particularly in his semi-autobiographical Tender is the Night. This Side of Paradise is less lyrical and more satirical, but it moves along with a kind of assurance and invention that I find very pleasing. I especially liked this departure from the conventional:

Amory's point of view, though dangerous, was not far from the true one. If his reactions to his environment could be tabulated, the chart would have appeared like this, beginning with his earliest years:

  1. The fundamental Amory.

  2. Amory plus Beatrice.

  3. Amory plus Beatrice plus Minneapolis.
    Then St. Regis' had pulled him to pieces and started him over again:

  4. Amory plus St. Regis'.

  5. Amory plus St. Regis' plus Princeton.
    That had been his nearest approach to success through conformity. The fundamental Amory, idle, imaginative, rebellious, had been nearly snowed under. He had conformed, he had succeeded, but as his imagination was neither satisfied nor grasped by his own success, he had listlessly, half-accidentally chucked the whole thing and become again:

  6. The fundamental Amory.

I haven't finished it yet, so look out for future posts on this one.