Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders (which really has an obnoxiously long title I don’t feel like typing out, but would have taken the same out of time as this parenthetical did. Actually it really would’ve taken twice as long) was, of course, on my “Classics I Should Read” portion of my list. Now, as we know, I’m not head over heals in love with many of the standard 19th classics, but, what makes Moll Flanders pretty awesome is that it was written in the early 18th century. Consequently, making Defoe a man well ahead of his time. Thus, he gets credit where credit is due.
Defoe receives major points with Moll Flanders for creating a pretty ballsy female character, literally centuries before you would think some such a character would be acceptable to the literary world. He also gets kudos for his brilliant humor. Our heroine is like a bawdier Austen chick, with the drive of Becky Thatcher (actually this is far less depressing Vanity Fair); so, a hilarious and winning combination. However, towards the end, I was like “enough with the shenanigans, Dan, they are getting overplayed.”
On the whole, therefore, I give a round of applause for Defoe and Moll. But, I might have knocked down the number of men and babies in her life by about half.
Rating: 3.5 Affairs
If you are like me, you like your mysteries less convoluted; the focus being on the mystery at hand, with the cast of characters merely breathing life, some humor, and intrigue to the plot as opposed to taking it over. If you are not like me, change. Just kidding. But this review might not appeal to you.
Christianna Brand exemplifies the epitome of a straight forward mystery novel with Green for Danger. Brand creates a solid whodunit that cleverly keeps the reader hanging on until the denouement. She offers just enough insight into her characters’ lives without overloading the reader with backstory and drama unless required to create the plot twists and mystery to keep the reader guessing and support the final reveal.
I simply couldn’t put Green for Danger down, because I was so curious as to how it would unfold (which is kind of sad because I definitely watched the film within the past year and, in typical Day fashion, couldn’t remember a single important thing), and because the cast Brand put together kept me rooting for each of them to be the good guy.
Brand certainly has me excited to read more of her works, earning a spot on my 2018 list.
Rating: 4 Scrubs
So, I was pretty stoked to finally read Bram Stoker’s (see what I did there) Dracula. From what I knew of the tale, and from what others told me, it seemed like exactly the kind of dark twisted beauty I’d be into. But, once again I am let down, much as I was with Frankenstein last year.
While, Stoker’s motives for making Dracula an epistolary novel is understandable, being a clever way to represent the intertwining characters and plots before they all come together, I don’t understand why there had to be such a wide variety of sources. Between the letters to and from various characters, the journal entries of various characters, and newspaper articles it got to be too much. TOO MUCH, BRAM. This tactic distracted from the story for me, (a story I was actually quite invested in) and toyed with the pacing.
That being said, it was an intriguing tale; Dracula himself has become an iconic character for good reason. While a clear antagonist, his multiple layers, as well as true human emotion, ensure that Dracula is a character who will continue to hold society’s interest.
Overall, fairly even pros and cons, though definitely not a favorite. But, the creation of Dracula brought us the genius that is Jason Segel’s Dracula musical and that is all that matters – see below:
Rating: 3 Drops of Blood
As we know, Italo Calvino is one of my all-time favorites (evidence seen here). A huge attribute, making him a standout, is that while his books are so wildly varied in their subject matter, genre, and format – each has a certain je ne sais quoi that gives them the Calvino stamp which transcends the general novel art form.
Invisible Cities is an exquisite example of this. Pieced together as conversations between Kubla Khan and Marco Polo (because…of course), detailing the travels of the latter, Invisible Cities takes the shape of meditation in novel form.
To be honest, Invisible Cities, is not a work whose details will remain with me. Additionally, it isn’t a favorite Calvino work, but its impact while I was reading it was a distinctive one. I effortlessly slipped into the dreamlike world Marco Polo creates; reading for an hour without realizing time had passed by. When I use the word “meditation” I mean it. Calvino’s ability to execute the environments he creates makes for a fully involved experience. When reading him – you’re either in or out, there is no in between.
Invisible Cities may not be popular among the masses; Calvino’s works are an acquired taste. But, I certainly recommend giving it a spin, if, for nothing else, to let your mind take a break for an hour or two.
Rating: 3.5 Meditations on an Ancient City