Invite me to your parties, Jay!
It’s the characters that make this story. The narrator, Nick, is fairly plain and uninteresting, but the people around him are such complex, intriguing and entertaining characters that I loved this book from beginning to end.
The story follows the life of the rich on Long Island in the 1920s. They invite themselves to parties, they complain about the heat and are utterly unhappy in their marriages. It’s the perfect recipe for an engaging story where the characters drive the plot, not the other way round.
After a few recent disappointments in my 100 book challenge, this was a refreshing change.
I used to find the literary technique ‘deep point of view’ pretty annoying. When I first heard it described in our writing workshop by tutor Karen Whitelaw I admit I put it in the I’ll-never-use-that basket. I believed good writing was about showing a character’s thoughts and opinions through their actions, not from spelling out exactly what was going on in their head. I guess I saw ‘deep point of view’ as the lazy way out.
Ahhhhh… but then I read The Catcher in the Rye.
A simple cover for a book that has well-earned its place on the classics list
This story, written in 1951 and set mainly in New York, is written deeply in the mind of teenager Holden Caulfield. It is written as though he sat down with you – no doubt over a packet of cigarettes – and rambled a story for a few hours, then it was transcribed word-for-word into a book.
In 1932, Aldous Huxley wrote a book about the future. It is a future where everyone is happy, everyone belongs to everyone else, children are decanted (not born) and society is split into a 5-part caste system where a person’s thinking capacity is limited depending on what job they are destined to perform.
82 years later, I sat down to read the book as part of my 100 Book Challenge.
Were these yellowing pages successful in predicting the future?
Brave New World is an absolute brilliant piece of work. It was surprisingly relevant still today and made me think on many different levels about the way we live and the choices we make. It took me on a journey beginning in awe of the utopian society, to questioning it, to loathing it. Unlike the previous book in the challenge it had a clearly defined beginning, middle and end. And it took me just a few days to read.
So how close was Huxley in predicting the future? Did he get it right?