Sunday, May 12, 2013
Book 40- Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnameable (66th and 67th books)
So here is my review of "book 40" aka Molloy + Malone Dies + The Unnameable. I love how the author of the Novel 100 does that! What is dubbed one book is actually three. In the list of 1001 books it is interesting to note that they are listed separately and the third book does not make the cut at all.
So here are my star reviews for each of the books because they vary QUITE vastly.
Molloy 5 out of 5 stars
Malone Dies 2 out of 5 stars
The Unnameable 2 out of 5 stars
Over all rating 2 out of 5 stars
Molloy is by far the best of the three books. I started it a few months ago and read through it in almost one night. I was curious about who this character was and why he was roaming the world aimless and confused. The portrayal of Molloy is a rather accurate description of some of my clients I used to work with when I was a Homeless Outreach Worker. I was stunned by being thrown into his brain and the horror of the world it portrayed. In the last half of his section, Molloy's leg causes him grief and he stumbles and crawls through the last section. This too is accurate of a large portion of the homeless population who have mobility issues. The last half of the novel is a similar adventure by a character named Moran who is sent out to recover Molloy and find him on the road. He slowly loses his mind and returns home with his quest unsuccessful. This is the most coherent of the novels and I was readily able to follow the story. It is is curious to note that Samuel Beckett who wrote the novels appears to be obsessed with chronicling death and decline. It is noted at some point in one of the three novels that this is something that is not usually done, and I can't think of very many novels that follow that pattern. Buddenbrooks is the only one that is springing to mind at the moment which follows the ruin of a family and ends worse off than when it started.
Malone Dies is a story of a man in a hospital of some sort. He, and thus the reader, are unclear as to how he got there, why he is there, and whether there is anyone else around. The narrative follows his dying thoughts as he attempts to create the story of his life. He states in the beginning that he plans to tell us stories, "One about a man, another about a woman, a third about a thing and finally one about an animal, a bird probably." This book is confused, and wandering. The topic and characters switch a few times throughout the story and it is very difficult to follow. It is not a pleasant read, and I don't feel I learned anything great while reading it. I did find one interesting philosophical thought which made me pause and think. "Nothing is more real than nothing". I still haven't decided what I think about that, because it is a concept I used to try to grasp, but could never quite get. It is, I think, impossible to truly know "nothing". The narrator talked about a goal to "live and invent". I quite liked that and really feel that is what life is about. We invent the kind of person we want to be and create an existence in the world.
The Unnameable is a hopelessly difficult treaty on the self, trying to speak purely of itself. It is the authors attempt at drilling down his narrative to speak only of himself. "To make believe I have an ego all of my own and can speak of it". He cycles through all the identities we have heard through the previous two novels, Molloy, Moran, Malone, etc. and also adds Worm and several others to the mix. The narrator/author? cycles through all these identities quickly discarding them all until the end. I like philosophy, there were a few deep thoughts in the novel, but I just wanted to be done reading it. I am not sure if it was the time when I was reading it or if I had been in a better space whether I would have felt differently, but I did not find this novel enjoyable. (It didn't make it in the 1001 and books to read before you die so that is saying something). I also found the author rather pretentious and his experiment with words and consciousness was too much. I never managed to highlight any of the really horrible sections, but I read several out loud to my boyfriend who often wonders why I proceed to read these books if I don't like them. I am stubborn when I start a task for myself and although I am certain I won't complete the list of 1001 books I am determined to read the list of 100 in is entirety. I did find a great phrase about the human condition though. "Ah a nice mess we're in, the whole pack of us, is it possible we're all in the same boat, no, we're in a nice mess each one in his own peculiar way".
I am so glad to be done with this book. and have nothing else to say!