The Afternoon of a Writer – Peter Handke

Book #212

Reviewer: pixidee

Translated by Ralph Manheim
Translation copyright 1989 by Farrar Straus and Giroux Inc.
New York
86 pages

Inside Cover

The fear haunting the nameless writer in Peter Handke’s new novel is the fear of losing contact with language and of not being able to go on with either his work or his life. After a morning at this desk-where, for him, a sentence put to paper is an even and the surest connection to the world-he ventures out for a walk.

The writer’s afternoon odyssey takes him from the centre of the unnamed European city to its outskirts, to a peripheral region comparable to the fringe of dreams of the frontiers of language. He is alternately relieved to be out in the world, where the first snow is falling and the early-December light is variously reflected, and vexed: in effect, on trial. What is the business of the writer? Is there any such business in this century? Who can claim to be an artist and to have made a place for himself in the world? But on this day the writer also has an appointment with one of his translators. An older man, he was once himself a writer, and today is a happy precisely because he is no longer, one. A translator, he says, has the certainty that he is needed.

Both lyrical and philosophical, The Afternoon of a Writer is storytelling about the problem of storytelling. “Carry on,” the writer urges himself as he finally prepares for bed. “Portray. Transmit. Continue to work the most ephemeral of materials, my breath; be its craftsman.”

My Verdict

I found this rather boring and hard to read, it was better when I was in complete silence as it was so descriptive that you can build the image of who he is and where he is and what he is doing and feeling in your head

Pet Peeves

Too slow and not much happening unless you like compiling a very detailed picture in your head which is hard to do at home with 2 kids hanging around or at work with noisy truck drivers yapping in your ear.

Summary

If you want a short read it’s good for that being only 86 pages long, nice even chapters so you can read a little before putting the book down. If you like a book to be exciting this probably isn’t the one for you.

I’d rate it 2.5 out of 5


The Passion of New Eve – Angela Carter

Book #310

Reviewer: pixidee


Published 1977 – London Victor Gollancz Ltd
191 pages
Inside Cover

Baroque in style, apocalyptic in vision, The Passion of New Eve is a late twentieth- century pilgrim’s progress though a disintegrating world, a world which, at every turn, will extend and shock the senses.
New York has become the City of Dreadful Night, where black, disingenuous Leilah dances a dance of chaos and dissolution for Evelyn, the young Englishman whose exemplary fate is that of Tiresias – in the desert, the arid zone, the post-menopausal part of the earth, an many-breasted self-styled fertility goddess will wield the obsidian scalpel that transforms him into the new Eve of the title

This is the story of how Evelyn learns to be a woman and finally becomes a kind of Madonna, or eve at the end of the world. He undergoes a strenuous apprenticeship of femininity in the ranch-house of Zero, the poet, a ragtime Neitzche; marries ambiguous, ancient beautiful Tristessa, the ghost of Hollywood past, myth make flesh, in a glass palace full of worn-out dreams, a bankrupt Eden; is precipitated into the heavy reality of a California torn by civil war; and learns at last a kind of enlightenment in a deserted cave on the Pacific coast.
Using the apparatus of myth to examine the nature of the mythology of sexuality, Angela Carter’s dazzling imaginative novel is richly streaked with black humour. One of our most original and disturbing novelists, she has won both the Somerset Maugham and the John Llewellyn Rhys awards for her earlier novels.

My Verdict

This was a very interesting read for sure, full of metaphors, some I got straight away others I had to re-read a couple of times to fully get what they were getting at (quite a few big words that I haven’t heard of before or was unsure what context…).

Was action packed, for example ‘Eve’ was kidnapped about 4 times in less than 200 pages, and each new situation that she was in there was a whole lot more going on and each situation was so very different, women making him into a her, getting kidnapped by a crazy man with 7 wives that were forced to act like animals, taken to a glass palace, then escaping again with the ever elusive Tristessa and getting lost in the desert to then be taken hostage by teenage boys, to then ending up back at the beginning. It’s a whole life cycle in one little book.

Was written from Eve’s point of view, almost felt like a memoir type thing (not that I have read one of those before, but it’s how I would imagine one would be).

A few pet peeves

The chapters are not all the same length, 1 chapter is half a page long and a couple of the other chapters are about 30 or more pages long so kind of annoying is you are the kind of reader who likes a chapter before bed.

The main part of Evelyn becoming Eve bugs me as he is now a she but you never takes any hormone pills/injections to keep her now body her – so have to get past that as we now know about how these things work.

There lots of words that I don’t even know how to say so that makes it a bit hard but the book was still readable.

Summary 

Loved the story, couldn’t wait to pick it up again, good length, and would be keen to read some other novels by Angela Carter after reading this one. Weird and wonderful a bit like me!

I’d rate this easily 4 out of 5.