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.
Petrolio by Pier Paolo Pasolini
Terribly unfinished, terribly difficult, terribly beautiful and ultimately terrible. A cursed novel (there's a mystery of a missing chapter) where Pasolini would have merged all his languages, if someone had not killed him before.
Plot: The life of two Carlos.
Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace
The quintessence of the modern American essay: to discuss bullshit proving that it's not complete garbage, because sometimes it's connect to very important things. For example: to treat the discussion of vocabulary by bringing up the role of social and philosophical language. Good and funny.
Plot: A writer talks about various things, from AVN Awards (the Oscars of porn) to lobsters.
Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
I read it until I realized that I was doing it just because people told me it was beautiful. I finished 71 rather tedious pages out of thousands: a rambling, demanding postmodern. Don't hate me, Pynchon fans, maybe from page 72 it's a masterpiece, but is it worth all the books I could have been reading instead?
Plot: In a parallel world, something strange happens with rockets and Nazis — then I stopped reading.
●○○○○ Life is too short to read it.
●●○○○ Read it, if you're a fan of the author.
●●●○○ Read it.
●●●●○ Read it next.
●●●●● Read it now.
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?