Author Rating: A

Royal Highness (read 1980s) Highly recommended

A wonderful story about a prince who tries to do the right thing.

The Black Swan(read 1980s) Highly recommended

Breathtaking story written from the point of view of a woman at a crossroad in her life.

Transposed Heads: A Legend of India(read 1980s) Highly recommended

Sita of the beautiful hips, daughter of the cattle-breeder Sumantra of the warrior caste has a problem. She loves two men, one for his mind, the other for his body. Which one is actually her husband?

Magic Mountain (read 1980s) AVOID

The single most overrated book in the history of literature.

Death In Venice (read 1980s) Meh.

I think it is so unfortunate for the reading public that Magic Mountain is pretty much the only book by Mann that they ever hear about. I have tried to finish it several times but it is one of the most excruciatingly boring books ever published. Death In Venice is only a hair better.


Author Rating: A

Dog Years (read 1980s) Highly recommended

The Tin Drum (read 1980s) Highly recommended

Both of these books are absolutely breathtaking.

Dog Years is a meditation on modern history in the guise of a novel, a study of Germany before, during and after the Second World War, a tale of the interrelated fortunes of two friends, Walter Matern, Aryan, and Eddi Amsel, half-Jew. In its well-nigh stupefying length, in its almost ritual use of distortions, shifting perspectives, and completely unaccommodating, dispassionate weaving of minutiae (at once quaint, brutal, and poetic), and in the terrible geniality of its denunciatory spirit and in its disgusts, it is without doubt one of the most astonishing literary performances since Finnegan’s Wake. It is also, naturally, one of the most troubling. By comparison, The Tin Drum is a mere roller coaster ride through the Absurd. Grass’ technique – a mingling of Beckett, Brecht, and his own half-solemn, half-winking naturalism – juxtaposes the traditional order of character and situation with quasi-allegorical effects: e.g., the recurrent word play on Heideggerian concepts; the deadpan caricature of mass media, the cool nightmarish descriptions of industry; the quirky, staccato close-ups of front line fighting; above all, the underlying canine metaphor whereby a stud dog, involved in the adolescence of all the participants, fathers der Fuhrer’s favorite hound, Pluto, later picked up by Matern on his hellish post-war Journey. (Kirkus Reviews)