Skip to main content

Book Review: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Alex's drink of choice is milk spiked with drugs.
Classy!
     This book left me conflicted and disturbed, as all good books should.  It's set in a future world where teenage gangs terrorize the streets while the Government attempts to control and reform them.  The protagonist, who refers to himself as Your Humble Narrator, is a rat bastard named Alex who spends his free time looting and raping with his friends.  (Keep in mind that there are lots of graphic and violent scenes in this book.  Don't read it if this will upset you.)  At the tender of age of 15, he is a proud sadist and his society doesn't know what to do with him.  His story is a meandering answer to several tough questions: Is it better to choose to do bad or to be obliged to do good?  Can the price of goodness ever be too high?
     The best part of this book is probably that it dares to deal with such controversial questions.  The next best part is the slang that Alex and his friends use, because it's really colorful and gives interesting insights into how their minds work.  For example, the word horrorshow means excellent, which makes sense because everything that Alex considers excellent would be horrifying to anyone with a soul.  In addition, I enjoyed Alex as a character.  I hated him, but between his love of classical music, his charisma, and his - shall we say - unconventional understanding of morality, he is too interesting not to enjoy.
     That said, I have complaints.  I disliked the last chapter of Clockwork Orange because it wrapped the story up too neatly.  Up until that final chapter, I had really appreciated that Burgess posed questions but did not try to impose any one answer on his readers.  In addition, there are no interesting female characters in this book.  Ugh, why is this such a common problem?  
     But apart from that, this book was fun and thought-provoking.  It only took me about three days to read, which must be a good sign.  

     - Carly

Comments

  1. I really don't know what's up with all those dull female characters. Is it really so hard to write an interesting female? And I don't say this as a feminism issue or whatever, female characters are just really boring!
    Wow, this book sounds.....different, really should check it out. At first I thought horrorshow was the Russian harasho, sounds almost the same and translates as "good, fine" :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe "harasho" and "horrorshow" really are related, that would be cool!

      Delete
  2. Hi Carly- great review. Watch the movie sometime.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thank you for talking to me!! I wish you lots of good books and brownies!

Popular posts from this blog

Best Reading from my First Semester

Ok, my only excuse for this long-ass hiatus is that I started college, and what with exams, essays, friends, newfound independence, and minor dramas, I nearly forgot I had a blog until this week.
But I'm back now, and here to tell you about the best books and stories I read during my last semester.

Novels
1. Citizen: An American Epic by Claudia Ward - A multi-media masterpiece about modern racism, with a particular focus on microaggressions.
2. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward - The story of a young girl coming of age in an impoverished area of Mississippi, on the brink of one of the great natural disasters of the last decade.
3. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison - A classic allegory of the racial justice movement in America.
4. Beloved by Toni Morrison - Possibly my favorite book ever, Beloved is based on the story of Margaret Garner, a woman who escaped slavery with her children and, when recapture seemed inevitable, killed her children to their being returned to slavery.
Shor…

Book Review: The Spanish American Short Story, edited by Seymour Menton

I love the cover of this book.  Look closely - it's a little skeleton man clasping his hands over a cup of black coffee.  I don't know what it means, but it's delightful.      Anyway, I read this collection of short stories in Spanish - El cuento hispanoamericano - for a class I am taking this semester, but it is also available in English.  According to my professor, it's a unique book in that it offers the best representation of Latin American short stories throughout modern history, with details about literary movements and authors as well.  I liked some stories better than others - "The Tree" by Maria Luisa Bombal and "The Ruby" by Ruben Dario were my favorites - but even the ones I disliked, such as "Secret Love" by Manuel Payno, were included because they were representative of a certain movement or regional style that was worth acknowledging.        My only issue with this book is that a story I just mentioned, "The Tree,&…

Book Review: The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

Beautiful writing and intensity of feeling were the major traits of this novel.  It is set in an abandoned Italian villa after World War II.  The villa is inhabited by a Canadian nurse, Hana, and a war patient whose entire body has been burned black.  Hana has chosen to nurse him alone rather than return home.  The patient is erudite and appears to be English.  Two other men, an Italian thief and a Sikh sapper, stumble upon and move in with them eventually.
     These five characters slowly reveal the traumas of their lives to one another.  But the most captivating story of all is that of the English patient, who narrates in bits and pieces his life in the desert and the love affair that changed it.  The speaking style of the patient is tense, intimate, and precise.  For example, while at the edge of a great loss, he "feels that everything is missing from his body, feels he contains smoke.  All that is alive is the knowledge of future desire and want" (157). This descr…