Ah, classic literary fiction. It can be so wonderful, but at times dense, leaving us wishing for a guide to lead us through the venerable 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.
Heliogabalus by Antonin Artaud
"Heliogabalus was born in an era when everybody slept with everybody” and he’s the hero of this era: he leads every extreme to its peek and dies in the war between men and women, because "it’s not the coitus but death [...] of which all these religions reveal the imposing, evil figure".
Plot: Elagabalus was born a priest, becomes god-emperor and dies in the sewers.
Rating: 89 out of 100
America by Vladimir Mayakovsky
To understand contemporary America you must neither live nor visit it, you must read the travel reports of a Soviet poet from 1925: undoubtedly the best tour guide ever written.
Plot: Mayakovsky goes to America.
Rating: 80 out of 100
Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock
A fantasy romance that allegorizes the story of the West: King Elric, a man who is albino, drugged, sick, he serves demons and rules a decadent community. He fights to choose his own fate but obviously fate has other plans.
Plot: If an emperor poses moral dilemmas, then the world ends.
Rating: 75 out of 100
Past Very Short Reviews of Difficult Books:
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?