Ah, classic literary fiction. It can be so wonderful, but at times dense, leaving us wishing for a guide of some sort to help us through the precious prose. Enter: Italian artist and writer Francesco D'Isa, who reviews the classics in a candid, tongue-in-cheek (and very short) way. We're happy to bring his column, "Very Short Reviews of Difficult Books," to English language readers! Check back here every Wednesday for three new reviews from Francesco.
Ada or Ardor by Vladimir Nabokov
Incomprehensible from the very first line. You will understand some things later on, as long as you're willing to sink into a parallel universe, both elegant and perverse (in a good way, and yes, there is a good way). Nabokov’s depictions of sex have a lot to teach some lesser contributions to current erotic fiction.
Plot: Two siblings have been engaged in an incestuous relationship since they were twelve.
Rating: 95 out of 100.
Ulysses by James Joyce
Beautiful, deep, and wonderfully written. So much so that I almost read it three times — and up until the third, I couldn’t admit how terribly boring it was. Enjoyable after three or more university degrees.
Plot: A guy’s day.
Rating: 68 out of 100, really.
Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
Like Rimbaud, but American and way longer. The novel should have ended with the revelation that the miracle whereby men are above murder consists of some turds floating in a bidet (a beautiful failed final).
Plot: A broke, hungry writer constantly talks about vaginas.
Rating: 75 out of 100.
Ready to add some old school titles to your reading list? Check back next week for some more Very Short Reviews of Difficult books, and in the meantime, why not catch up on some lighter fare on our Everything Romance page!