Sunday, June 01, 2008

Bookmarks for May 2008

Time's Arrow by Martin Amis. Of course, a story told backwards is going to be confusing, at least a little, and for awhile I read just wondering if what seemed to be a clever gimmick was going to pay off. I think it does, but I'm not entirely sure. I mean, the story certainly works this way, but I'm not entirely sure of the purpose. I want to say that Amis is trying to get the reader to the genesis (the book travels from the death of the protagonist narrator to his conception) of such evil as the Holocaust, at least the genesis of such thing in the individuals who perpetuate such harm. But the book seems about more than that. The narrator, who tries to separate his bad deeds from himself with a persona (with different names in different locales), is unable to hide his innate selfishness. And that is where the horror seems to lie, since when the beginning of this man is found, we see that his behavior comes from the idea that he is the center of the universe, as most children feel they are. But the character is not a child; sadly, there is a bit of his mindset in all of us. Frightening.

The Time Traveler by Joyce Carol Oates. I can't believe I had lived nearly forty-five years and had not read an entire book by Joyce Carol Oates. I've read a handful of her stories (most notably "Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?" in college) and essays, but never one of her novels. And oddly, I didn't seek this book out, but I was in the library with my class and just picked it off the shelf. The poems are, mostly, accessible and interesting to read. Nothing stood out to me, but I did find the final section, mostly elegies, good reading.

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