Raymond Radiguet, a French teenager who hung out with Hemingway and Cocteau, wrote The Devil in the Flesh in 1921, and died of typhoid fever at the age of 20. The story is nothing new: the relationship between a slightly older married woman, Marthe (19) and a younger teenage boy (15). But the language is concise and honest. And the unnamed self-centered narrator is hyper-aware of his cruelty when he reflects on the past. The book itself is packaged quite nicely. Beautiful cover, published by the Neversink Library (which is a direct reference to Herman Melville’s White Jacket), the book synopsis reads:
Martin Amis‘ Lionel Asbo: State of England is a character study of a man who never changes. A career criminal who lives in the projects, Lionel Asbo becomes the primary caretaker of his orphaned nephew—Desmond Pepperdine. While in prison, Lionel wins the lottery—13.5 million pounds and he remains the same.
Books no longer mean the same thing they used to. In the past, books were read and reread, shared with trusted friends, and handed down to the next generation. In city life, with apartments being so small, a lot of friends have had to downsize their collections. I have tried to weed out the books I will never read: the ones I’ve owned for over a decade, the ones that remind me of former friends. One’s bookcase reflects a large part of who one is and chronicles who one was and who one would like to be. For example, all my Anne Rice and Poppy Z. Brite books indicate that I used to be a goth kid. And then you see who I’d like to be: the person who reads Vladimir Nabokov‘s translation of Pushkin or a study on medieval warfare. I plan on reading them one day. But there are also books I’ll never read. I keep them because of the sentimental value, the moments they represent, or their sheer beauty.
Tom Wolfe‘s The Bonfire of the Vanities is a contemporary naturalist novel and his protagonist, Sherman McCoy, evokes feelings reminiscent to that of Vladimir Nabokov‘s Humbert Humbert in Lolita. Wolfe allows the dialogue and plot to speak for themselves, and while concrete evidence of his voice is hard to be found, the novel’s presentation of society, justice, and media direct us to Wolfe’s opinion.