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16 April 2011

Book Review: The African Queen

The African QueenThe African Queen by C.S. Forester
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I worried for the first 20 or so pages that I would not be able to get Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart out of my head;  but then it was easy to get them out of my head because Forester's characters are very different from Huston's characters.

This was my first foray into Forester but I enjoyed it;  his characterization of Rose doesn't take any of the expected spinster turns, and for that, I was grateful.

It is easy to lose the thread of the larger plot here;  Germans occupying Africa, a portion of the world to which Britain felt entitled.  The historical context of World War One is not terribly clear, either (though about halfway through, the date 1914 is mentioned ... if it was mentioned earlier, I missed it).  Forester allows some Germans to be upstanding, which was refreshing.

A nice read.  A beach read, perhaps.  The ending of the book seemed slap-dash and uncharacteristically rushed, like Forester was on deadline or something.  This is one of the few times in the history of the universe that the movie is better than the book;   though the movie's ending is far-fetched, it is much more satisfying than the ending of the book.

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11 April 2011

Book Review: The Big Sleep

The Big SleepThe Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book uses its prose as carefully as an out-of-work showgirl uses her last good pair of stockings, though sometimes it seems that armies of sluggish minutes drag by while you're reading.  And, sometimes, the plot fell apart like a bride's pie crust.  I found the characters more unbelievable than a four-ace poker hand and as seedy as a spring garden. Though I read this on a crisp morning, with just enough snap in the air to make life seem simple and sweet, at times my soul felt as empty as a scarecrow's pockets.   The plot is heavier than a dead man, which is heavier than a broken heart.  But the writing was worth it; a metaphoric plethora.

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