Posted in Fiction

Ryūnosuke Akutagawa: The Nose (鼻)

What’s this? My last book review was The Nose by Nikolai Gogol. And now there’s another short story review of… The Nose?

Well, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa’s work first reached publication in 1916 – over five decades after the Russian’s satirical classic. The Japanese writer’s effort is an adaptation of famous native folklore from the Uji Shūi Monogatari. These were short fables written during the 13th century from an author no one knows.

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Posted in Fiction

Nikolai Gogol: The Nose

Greetings! After a delay of half a year, I’m back for 2019 with a review of the classic short story by Nikolai Gogol – The Nose.

These posts take a fair old while to put together and, wrapped up working for Barnes Film Festival in London (along with my full-time day job), and running Professional Moron, it’s tricky to fit in these long-form reviews.

But here’s the latest. It’s a famous short story that was likely a major inspiration for Franz Kafka. I’ll follow it up with a review of his famous novella The Metamorphosis sometime soon.

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Posted in Non-Fiction

Jun’ichirō Tanizaki: In Praise of Shadows

Last time out in Kakuzo Okakura’s magnificent the Book of Tea, I had a look at how the beverage has influenced the world over thousands of years. This time, I’m reviewing Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s (1886 – 1965) In Praise of Shadows, which is another Japanese essay steeped in Eastern mysticism and other such delights.

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Posted in Non-Fiction

Charles Bukowski: Post Office

Right, my last three reviews have encompassed a lot of serious philosophising and whatnot. Charles Bukowski’s Post Office (1971) isn’t quite in the same league there, but what it does represent is a fine instalment in addiction, and down and out, literature, as well as something genuinely funny to read.

The former sprung forth through the likes of Thomas De Quincey in the 19th century, who candidly discussed his addiction to opium. The latter, down and out literature, I first came across when I read several of George Orwell’s works, which dealt with poverty and social and economic injustice – a sad situation which hasn’t advanced a great deal since Orwell’s day.

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Posted in Fiction

Jean-Paul Sartre: Iron in the Soul

Sartre’s Roads to Freedom trilogy ends here, in an epic novel which advances the story of Mathieu Delarue on his quest for personal freedom. The Age of Reason and the Reprieve, over 600 pages, develop his character considerably, from a bumbling university professor to a man on the brink of war, before, finally, being thrown into battle for Iron in the Soul (also known as Troubled Sleep – for this review, I’ll stick with its original translation).

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Posted in Fiction

Jean-Paul Sartre: The Age of Reason

With its existential themes and mission to examine and expose the nature of personal autonomy, Sartre’s epic Roads to Freedom trilogy was completed in a mighty flurry of activity, with the Age of Reason published in September 1945 shortly after the Nazi occupation of France and World War II ended.

It was joined immediately by the Reprieve, the writing style of which uses simultaneity as events unfold at the same time, with Sartre considering numerous characters at once as they jostle for position on page.

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Posted in Non-Fiction

Gerald Durrell: My Family and Other Animals

After the hedonism, madness, and squalor of the first two Moonshake Book reviews, this time out I’m having a detailed look at a delightful classic.

I first read My Family and Other Animals in the summer of 2005. University had ended for the second year and there were two months of peace and quiet before the onslaught of the third year began – I used this time to opportunistically cram in a few extra novels. Not as part of my English course (which, over three years, offered little of interest for me – Beowulf, anyone?), but more as a means to discover new writers.

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