sobota 29. srpna 2009

Cormac McCarthy - No Country for Old Men

Vydáno: 2007 (2005)
Cormac McCarthy's first novel since completing the Border Trilogy in 1998 is a dramatic change of pace. Gone is the focus on the wild Texas plains and the encroachment of civilization. Gone are the lyrical descriptions of wild nature and young love. Gone is the belief that love and hope have a fighting chance in life's mythic struggles. Instead, we have a much darker, more pessimistic vision, set in Texas in the 1980s, a microcosm in which drugs and violence have so changed "civilization" that the local sheriff believes "we're looking at something we really aint even seen before."
Forty-five-year-old Sheriff Ed Tom Bell must deal with the growing amorality affecting his small border town as a result of the drug trade. The old "rules" do not apply, and Bell faces a wave of violence involving at least ten murders. Running parallel with Bell's investigation of these murders is the story of Llewelyn Moss, a resident of Bell's town, who, while hunting in the countryside, has uncovered a bloody massacre and a truck containing a huge shipment of heroin. He has also discovered and stolen a case containing two million dollars of drug money, which results in his frantic run from hired hitmen. Hunting Moss is Anton Chigurh, a sociopathic cartel avenger, a Satan who will stop at nothing, the antithesis of the thoughtful and kindly Bell. A rival hitman named Wells is, in turn, stalking Chigurh.
By far McCarthy's most exciting and suspenseful novel in recent years, the story speeds along, the body count rising in shocking scenes of depravity. Bell's first person musings about crime, society, and the people around him break the tension periodically, allowing the reader to ponder the wider implications of the action and to see it as a symbolic struggle for man's soul between good and evil, love and hate, God and Satan. As the violence continues and Bell becomes more discouraged, he visits his elderly Uncle Ellis, a former deputy sheriff and war veteran, and as they talk about World War I and the Vietnam War, where they were willing to give their lives for a presumably winnable cause, the contrast between those battles and this battle on the home front is seen in broader and bleaker perspective.
McCarthy's desire to preserve traditional values, and his grim vision of the present and future, reflect a view of life that many readers will not share. The artistry the reader has seen in McCarthy's thematic development throughout the rest of the novel is sacrificed in the last forty pages, in which Bell's overt warnings and cautionary remarks about the future sound preachy. Still, the novel is breathtaking in its construction, and Sheriff Ed Tom Bell is one of McCarthy's best-drawn characters.

Skóre: 9/10

sobota 22. srpna 2009

Esther J. Endingová - Po Valentýnu

Originál: Na Valentijn
Vydáno: 2007 (2004)
Rain, Storm, Forrest, Ocean a Pillow jsou sourozenci. Jejich hippiesácká maminka je měla se třemi tatínky: jeden byl anglický aristokrat a při oplodnění měl dvě promile, druhý se po LSD chtěl stát Mesiášem a nakonec se ztratil kdesi v Indonésii, třetí bral kokain a týral děti - tu zlomil ruku, tu bodl nožem. Naštěstí se zabil v autě. Maminka byla free a happy a kromě přiblblých jmen už toho dětem moc nedala. Život je karma, co se má stát, ať se stane, peníze nejsou potřeba, k životu stačí příroda... A tyhle děti jsou tím vším v dospělosti poznamenané: Ocean spáchá na Valentýna sebevraždu, Pillow je alkoholička, Forrest se nehodlá probrat ze svého THC snu, relativně normální Storm a Rain si nedokážou udržet žádný vztah - a tak spí spolu. Autorka boří mýtus glorifikované květinové generace 60. let. Ideály lásky, míru a porozumění tu dostávají pořádně na frak.

Skóre: 7/10

pátek 7. srpna 2009

Ann Patchett - Bel Canto

Vydáno: 2002 (2001)
In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. His hosts hope that Mr. Hosokawa can be persuaded to build a factory in their Third World backwater. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.
Among the hostages are not only Hosokawa and Roxane Coss, the American soprano, but an assortment of Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types. Reuben Iglesias, the diminutive and gracious vice president, quickly gets sideways of the kidnappers, who have no interest in him whatsoever. Meanwhile, a Swiss Red Cross negotiator named Joachim Messner is roped into service while vacationing. He comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands, and the days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months.
With the omniscience of magic realism, Ann Patchett flits in and out of the hearts and psyches of hostage and terrorist alike, and in doing so reveals a profound, shared humanity. Her voice is suitably lyrical, melodic, full of warmth and compassion. Hearing opera sung live for the first time, a young priest reflects:
Never had he thought, never once, that such a woman existed, one who stood so close to God that God's own voice poured from her. How far she must have gone inside herself to call up that voice. It was as if the voice came from the center part of the earth and by the sheer effort and diligence of her will she had pulled it up through the dirt and rock and through the floorboards of the house, up into her feet, where it pulled through her, reaching, lifting, warmed by her, and then out of the white lily of her throat and straight to God in heaven. Joined by no common language except music, the 58 international hostages and their captors forge unexpected bonds. Time stands still, priorities rearrange themselves. Ultimately, of course, something has to give, even in a novel so imbued with the rich imaginative potential of magic realism. But in a fractious world, Bel Canto remains a gentle reminder of the transcendence of beauty and love.
Winner of the Orange Prize for fiction 2002
Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award 2002
Skóre: 8/10