There was a cute chick in my local second-hand bookstore browsing the sci-fi section. To impress, I bought a handful of old paperbacks, including some sci-fi books – a genre that I have no interest in and have never bothered to explore. Was she impressed? I don’t know. I never saw her again.
The first old paperback I read was The Captive by Colette. I’ve read some of her Claudine series of books and they were all pretty cute and readable on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, this book was not from the Claudine series, and if it was the only book left in the world I’d kill myself. I felt great despair reading The Captive; not because it inspired in me a Morrissey-like aesthetic nihilism, but because it was shit.
Rene is a woman in her late 30’s and she’s single and wants a man. She is always miserable. She says, “It is raining harder than ever. I shall not leave my room again.” She lives in an upmarket hotel (she’s rich, but doesn’t work – she used to be a dancer). She lays about her apartment and listens to everyone else having fun. “They are odious, all those people behind the walls and above the ceiling, wallowing in repose like glutted barbarians, but... they are there.”
Rene eventually befriends her neighbour, a good looking young woman called May who drinks a lot and takes heaps of cocaine, all paid for by her rich and young boyfriend Jean. In the absence of a boyfriend or any friends at all, Rene starts hanging out with these crazy zany kids in their early 20’s. Then Jean, the rich young man, dumps May and starts having an affair with Rene.
He is more than ten years younger than her and she figures it won’t last but lo and behold, he actually loves her. This then leads to about 60 pages of over-analytical rubbish. Rene panics, she decides he is smothering her with love, she decides she doesn’t love him, but then she does, so she moves in with him, but then she decides to leave him, but then she doesn’t, and so he gets angry, so she decides to love him, but maybe she only loves the idea of him, he knows that, he is angered that she knows his thoughts, so he dumps her, so she snares him back, and then she dumps him, but then she doesn’t, and it goes like this on and on and on and it’s horrible.
What’s worse is that I know people like that. The whole “What do you think that means?” brigade of the world. There’s a limit to my tolerance of amateur psychologists, or the two-penny sleuths who vandalise my peace with inane conspiracies, fears and open-ended summaries of every gesture, sound and nuance in life. A spade is quite often a spade.
Don’t read this book. I paid $6.50 and it will keep me up at night. I give it an F.
Equally stupid but less offensive is Daybreak - 2250AD by Andre Morton (who’s a woman sci-fi writer of great renown allegedly). It cost me $4.50. It’s set in 2250, two-hundred years after a nuclear war and the world is populated by humans who live in mountains, some others that roam the plains and some others that live in valleys. They don’t like each other, but they have common enemies such as the Beast People who are mutated half-human/half rats that populate the old cities.
There are other mutants too but they are good mutants, such as the main character Fors (who has night vision) and his mutant tabby cat (the size of a tiger) and they explore this new world and make friends and battle enemies. Through the power of his kind deeds he unites the various human tribes against the Beast Things. The end. What is it with sci-fi novels set in the future and mutants? It’s always mutants. That’s why sci-fi bores me I think. Oh, and how come in the future everyone speaks like a retard?
“This is the small-small one of our hearthside, my brother. She is named Rosann of the Bright Eyes. Ha, small one, bid welcome my brother-“
I don’t recall in Year 10 Science anything about nuclear fallout deteriorating one’s linguistic skills. I give it a D-.
Two people whose book taste I respect have recommended The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I went into three bookstores and they didn’t have it, so I ended up buying No Country For Old Men by the same writer. I haven’t seen the film yet. I feel like I have though because the book was quite visual and dialogue heavy. It was almost like reading a film script. I enjoyed it. You know, it was okay. A page turner, but my life wasn’t changed. I recommend the book as one you can read over two or three nights in bed, as long as you’re cool with graphic violence. I give the book a C.