Book Notes IV

The Failure of Technology by Friedrich Georg Jünger (A)  – An excellent and prescient critique of technology, or more accurately the technological mindset, but the less famous brother of the below-mentioned Ernst.  I’m planning a series of posts exploring the ideas therein, for the near future. 

A Month in the Country by JL Carr (C) – The memory of this book was far greater than the reality.  A story about loss and recovery and paths not taken in the sunlight, the themes resonate far more than the writing.  Based on the unfair standards of my recollections, which were perhaps more a memory of a time and place in my own life than the book itself, this was the most disappointing reread I’ve had in a long time. Probably better than I’m giving it credit for here.

Night Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (B) – I could easily see someone falling in love with this book.  It’s clearly lyrical, aiming at beautiful, but I found it overwritten.  More of a matter of it not being to my taste than being a bad book.  It’s certainly a quick read, certainly a glimpse into an enthralling world, but, in its wordiness and self-awareness just flowed away from me. 

The Forest Passage by Ernst Jünger (S) – On of my “companion books.”  How to live amidst tyranny.  I think it’s excellent, I think most of what Junger wrote is excellent, a book to return to again and again, ever disclosing it’s depths. 

The Book of Knights by Yves Meynard (A) – Wolfe lists this book as an inspiration for his own Wizard Knight and uses a passage from it as the epigraph.  The connection is clear, both concern a young man desperate to become a knight, prematurely aged, and both (though less in the case of Meynard) conceal hidden depths in the dreamlike fantastic.  This was a good book, an enjoyable adventure, quality fantasy.  I’m not sure how I feel about the big reveal, it was certainly wild, not at all what I expected, but somehow right.  Anyway, worth a read.

A King Alone by Jean Giono (B) – I cannot think of a book that I struggle to evaluate more than this one.  Essentially a novella, the first third is one of the gripping things I’ve ever read, beautiful and tense and mysterious.  The next third is very good, though less superb, an obvious and intentional degraded reflection of the first.  The final third is horribly boring, a complete slog, one in which the mysteries, the things unsaid, obscure things so thoroughly that you (or I) end up losing all focus.  It’s clearly deliberate, there’s a masterful level of authorship here, but I feel like Giono went too far.  I’m reminded of my comments on the artist driven to a paradoxical silence, the painter endlessly sketching, revising until the canvas is obscured. 

Warsaw 1920 by Adam Zamoyski (B) – A perfectly adequate account of the Polish-Soviet War and the Polish triumph therein.  I write “adequate” in both a positive and negative sense.  It gives you a decent summary of events, battles, movements, and very little beyond that.  The writing is serviceable but not spectacular.  The characters are, with a two or three exceptions, not drawn in great detail.  The surrounding context is not given at length.  If you want to know something about a little known, surprisingly important 20th century conflict, this provides the basis.  If you’re looking for gripping history, maybe look elsewhere.

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