This week’s blog post is dedicated to six books with morbid subject matters. Five of them are Fiction and one is non-Fiction. Click on the links to read my reviews.
Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol (1842)
Dead Souls is an uncompleted, satirical novel that parodies Imperial Russia and provincial Russian life. Targets for ridicule include the gentry and rural officials.
My Review: Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov is travelling around provincial Russia, visiting landowners. His purpose is to purchase papers relating to their serfs who have died since the last census. By doing so Chichikov relieves…(more)
My Opinion: Ponderous and turgid
The Plague by Albert Camus (1947)
The Plague is an existentialist classic that evaluates morality, the role of God and how we react to death. Its narrative tone and poetic prose style will appeal to some.
My Review: In the Algerian coastal town of Oran, an explosion in the rat population has not gone unnoticed. The infestation soon comes to an abrupt halt with the mysterious demise of the rats. When the townsfolk…(more)
My Opinion: Okay
Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1966)
Set in the post-Stalin era, Cancer Ward is an allegorical, semi-autobiographical novel, in which the cancer ward serves as a microcosm of Soviet society.
My Review: Oleg Kostoglotov, whose last name translates as ‘bone-chewer’, has been exiled in perpetuity to a village by the name of Ush-Terek, located on the steppe in Kazakhstan, a long way from home…(more)
My Opinion: Depressing but good
Rashōmon and Seventeen Other Stories by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (2006)
A sense of doom and despair permeates this somewhat disparate assemblage whose cynicism, dark humour and tormented, fin-de-siécle tone appealed to this reader.
My Review: The book, which is divided into four parts, begins with the sinister tale Rashōmon. Set during the Heian era (11th century) it sees a confrontation between an unemployed servant and an old woman…(more)
My Opinion: A worthwhile read
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (2003)
The author applies a light approach to explore a taboo subject matter. This book will intrigue those with a healthy interest in the macabre.
My Review: This non-fiction work investigates the more unfamiliar scenarios involving our dead bodies. Topics include human crash test cadavers, bullet-testing cadavers, and the virtually all-encompassing…(more)
My Opinion: Interesting for the most part
Pure by Andrew Miller (2011)
Those readers anticipating a tale of the sinister and macabre may well find themselves disappointed by the Costa 2011 prize winner.
My Review: Paris’s oldest cemetery, Les Innocents, is overflowing. The city’s deceased have been piled in there for years, resulting in the surrounding area being permanently permeated by a fetid…(more)
My Opinion: Overrated
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