Welcome back to the Monthly Reviews series, where I chronologically list last month’s reads, along with a short reflexion and opinion regarding each book.
Here’s a wrap-up of the books I read in October:
Philip Roth: Indignation (2008)
Indignation (2008) by Philip Roth is an unnervingly tragicomical novel about a gifted young jewish man and his struggles to become and remain truly himself within the confines of a traditionalist society.
In addition, Roth is addressing the substantial topic of collective trauma by framing the story with the Korean war – laying bare and examining the fears and losses of innocent individuals, brought on by the reverberations of the causalities.
Marcus Messner is ever the dutiful boy who has always completed his chores, done his homework and never gotten home late. The boy even works in his father’s kosher butcher shop full time at one point to help support the family – albeit he finds the work te be quite disgusting.
Marcus’ thirst for an individualist existence leads into several conflicts and leaves him ideologically and logistically isolated from his peers – a result which perfectly satisfies the young man himself, but is, apparently, a dangerous condition in 1950s society.
The contrasts between the protagonist’s massively inflated self-image, his ever so righteous crusade against those who wish to, in any way, influence him, and what actually ends up happening to Marcus, are subtly and masterfully drawn – so even for those who tend to strongly dislike him, the fact that Roth has produced a multi-faceted, morally polarizing and absurdly fascinating protagonist, is undeniable.
H. G. Wells: The War of the Worlds (1897)
British author H. G. Wells first published his science fiction novel The War of the Worlds in 1897 in Pearson’s Magazine, describing a wealth of scientifically advanced possibilities and stunning notions of technological progress.
At the time, his work could easily have been considered the ramblings of a mad man. From a contemporary perspective, however, one would rather characterize the author as a genius and the novel as a masterpiece.
The unnamed protagonist describes his surroundings and experiences in a businesslike manner throughout the progression of events, all the while fleeing from a Martian invasion and dreading a most painful death. If kafkaesque were a term in Wells’ time, it would fit the descriptory bill.
To sum up this short novel stacked with subject matter: H. G. Wells was an author and a scholar who surpassed regular standards in almost every means.
Daphne du Maurier: Rebecca (1938)
Daphne du Maurier’s gothic mystery novel Rebecca (1938) starts out as a lover’s lament: The narrator recalls a beautiful place she once called home. Manderley has been lost but not forgotten. A heavy mist of gloom fills the very first pages of the book and imparts a cool-toned somber hue on the story.
While the amount of sentiment could easily overflow from such an intense lament, du Maurier continuously manages to upkeep both a sense of mystery, an element of sadness, and a state of silent reflection with her young protagonist.
Not a single element about Rebecca is a cliché: the gothic features of the property, the impending sense of a haunting gloom by the figurative and literal ghosts of the house’s past; the vastly differing stories and myths that veil the real truth about the late mrs. de Winter – and the actual reason behind the threat she poses to Manderley, both while alive and dead.
All of it is fully fascinating and keeps a reader occupied, interested – and, at times, very nervous.
This is the monthly wrap-up for my English reviews. You can read the German wrap-up here.
What were your highlights and disappointments this past month? Kindly let me know about your October in reading – in the comment section down below.
Cover Photo from here