A Clockwork Orange (Paperback) by Anthony Burgess /212 pages
I had to watch the film of this book several times for a couple of film studies classes I took, and every time I did I hated it. There was always an eye roll and a "oh not this again!" mental note. So when we got around to writing papers I completely ignored this film.
So now.. approx 2 years later, I am going back and actually reading the books to the films we studied (it wasn't encouraged in class to avoid comparisons or bias, the film should stand alone we were told). At any rate, I am so very glad I read this, and so very glad I read it after I saw the movie! My mental scenes were so vivid, it was like watching a better and more intricate version of the film. Also I was surprised at how easily I could pick up on his language and the meanings to the words.
I also noticed that the book was very efficient at removing the reader from the violence through the use of the Nadsat slang language of the droogs. I kept commenting to myself repeatedly throughout the book, how much reading the violent passages in plain talk would have been highly disturbing to me, and yet reading it in Nadsat, it wasn't. The film did not have this effect at all. The weird language did nothing to alter the sharpness of the violence.
I also very much love the 21st chapter. Perhaps one of the reasons I hated the film so much is because Alex did not learn or grow, it was as if his whole crazy journey was pointless because nothing changed in the end. I was pleased and surprised to see that Burgess actually wrote a last chapter that the US publishers had removed. It gave me a closure that the film could not.
And lastly, of course, the unavoidable philosophical questions that repeatedly surface throughout the book. The age old question of free will. If free will is what ultimately makes us human, and distinguishes us from machines, robots, or AI, then conditioning free will out of someone would whittle them down to just a machine, or a puppet. So although Alex is really quite an awful person, the reader cannot help but to subtly root for him, and hope for a cure to his conditioning.
I really have no critiques for this book. I thought it was excellently composed for all of the reasons stated above. 5 stars
Lost At Sea
Jon Ronson, 2012
I read this via audible and enjoyed the narrators pacing, tone, and voice.
There were several chapters I really liked, Sylvia Browne, Disney Cruises, and the one on income inequality. But by far my favorite was the Stanley Kubrick chapter. What a hidden gem! I did not know that would be a subject, so it was a pleasant surprise.
Other chapters were a bit of a bore, and kind of went nowhere. So overall it was ok, but definitely not my favorite read.