One of my friends put it best, ‘So apparently Cujo is just a bad lifetime movie with a rabid dog’ and although he was referring to the movie, it pretty much sums up the book as well. I just was not impressed and couldn’t get into the novel. The major plus side was that it felt like a short novel.
If you haven’t figured it out yet I didn’t enjoy this book. I am glad I can now say I’ve read a Stephen King novel but overall it was lack-luster and disappointing. I didn’t choose to read this novel on my own, it was the selection for our April Books into Movies library book group. So my disparaging review is totally legit. I did have major issues with the formatting of this book. I read this book through Overdrive from my local library and somewhere during the conversion process a lot of mistakes were processed. It was really distracting and felt more like a galley than an actual published book.
I had a lot of problems with the book especially after it started out with such a good sense of terror and what was to come. I definitely freaked out within the first ten pages, but that feeling slowly disappeared and never returned, a lot of this had to do with King’s writing. It felt like he was writing down to his readers, almost dumbing things down for them and this bothered me. (I will provide a caveat that I read this in the middle of reading Middlemarch which is incredibly well written.)
Although the year has changed, reading must continue For my first book of 2013 I used random.org to pull one from my shelves and it was definitely an experience.
As usual after I purchased the book I put it out of my mind and then when I go to read it I just start without reading anything about the book and thus begin without preconceived notions. This works for and against me all the time, for this book it definitely worked for me because if I had read a synopsis I probably would not have read the book at this time (see paragraph 5).
For a Man Booker Prize winning novel it was relatively easy to read. (It also won the Whitbread Award for First Novel.) I haven’t read any others from the year, but Atwood’s Oryx and Crake is of course on my list. Overall I think this book serves as a great conversation starter, but as I read it I had to wonder why it won the award. Compared to many of the other Booker winners it felt lacking. Take for example other winning or nominated coming of age stories, such as Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, Room, Never Let Me Go, or any other book with a child narrator, and Vernon God Little just isn’t up to par. I will say however, it does warrant a comparison to A Confederacy of Dunces (on Wikipedia). I can see the similar humor and writing style, but this, perhaps because of the child narrator, is preferable.
What a wonderful novel AND a beautiful film! The day I bought this book my roommate asked if I wanted to go see the film and after a lot of internal dialogue made external I decided to see the film before reading the book and it was well worth it. The score of the film was one of the most beautiful I’ve heard in ages and it was also visually stunning.
I knew this would be a good novel because it was only short listed for the Man Booker Prize! It was nominated for and won a few other awards. I’m still convinced, in general, the runners-up on the shortlist are often better than the winners. I have read the winner that year, Alan Hollinghurt’s The Line of Beauty, and although I really enjoyed Hollinghurst’s novel it was a tome and I struggled, so this book was easier to read and I would say more enjoyable for it’s set up and it’s approachability.
This is definitely one of the top three most beautiful books I have read this year. Not only is it well written, but it is well researched and really makes you think without making you struggle to do so. As I haven’t read any of the award winners for which this book was nominated, I can’t say my theory holds that the nominees are generally better than the winners, but that’s still my gut response.
Not that you would want to, because the book is fairly deceptively complicated, but if you had to sum it up in one line it would be the following:
“Sometimes you had to be who you were and endure what happened to you, and to you alone, before you could understand the first thing about it.” (67)
This is definitely one of the themes of the book, along with acceptance and surviving and any other number of things. And it doesn’t just have to do with Wayne/Annabel, but with Thomasina, Wally, Jacinta, and Treadway. And any of the other countless people who lived in Croydon Harbor and are survivors.
Doctor Zhivago counts for three challenges, and actually wraps up one of my 2012 Challenges! It counts for the Back to the Classics Challenge (6 of 9), The Classics Club (12 of 100), and is my final book for the Tea and Books (8 of 8) challenge! I will do a wrap up post for the Tea and Books challenge early next week. For the Back to the Classics Challenge, this book was the novel from a place I realistically wouldn’t visit. After reading Doctor Zhivago and Anna Karenina I can say my aversion to visiting Russia is less, but I still would list it as not likely to travel to.
One thing I’ve learned that is vitally important when reading a classic novel is that you have to read the introduction. Sure it might tack on 20-30 extra pages, but they are there for a reason and they reveal so much information that is incredibly useful when reading a book, not to mention they give you a head’s up of what to look for as you read. For example, in the introduction to Doctor Zhivago, the following quote points out how the novel is written.
“Pasternak’s vision is defined by real presence, by an intensity of physical sensation rendered in the abundance of natural description or translated into the voices of his many characters.” (loc. 146)