This book is made up entirely of questions. This could have been interesting.
"When did you last have a piece of Melba toast?
"Author, you are wasting my time.
"Could Mendeleyev place you correctly in a square on a chart of periodic identities, or would you resonate all over the board?"
Now if you don't think about it for even a micro-second, this has the air of being deep. And if you recognize Mendeleyev you might feel a flutter of self-congratulation. (Hey, I got that reference!) But if you actually think about this question... well, you soon discover that there is nothing there.
It´s a shiny, empty box.
The book alternates between these two types of questions (mundane and pseudo-deep) until you loose the will to live. Or you stop reading. I recommend the latter. And somehow the fact that these empty little baubles are in the form of questions really irks me. It´s an insult to the readers´ intelligence. Why would I waste my time and energy on what is essentially fluff? A question mark does not create instant philosophical depth and the sheer number of questions included here does not create substance.
In a way it´s a perfect product of the consumer age: inauthentic, content-free -- basically the equivalent of mental junk food.
And it doesn´t even taste good.
[I don´t usually do scathing reviews, but I hate to think of anyone else wasting their time and money on this hollow rubbish.]
Read this ages ago and didn't like it. Was I too young? Bad translation? Not sure, but I loved it this time. Beautiful images and descriptions, by turns horrifying, sad, wondrous and suspenseful. He goes from large scale epic adventure to the small pleasures of a warm, cosy bed.
Fagles' translation is magnificent -- he's a poet in his own right:
"give the boy the name I tell you now. Just as I have come from afar, creating pain for many--men and women across the good green earth--so let his name be Odysseus...the Son of Pain, a name he'll earn in full."
"...numbing sorrow had stunned the man to silence..."
"as the sun sank and the roads of the world grew dark."
"a man whose white bones lie strewn in the rain somewhere,rotting away on land or rolling down the ocean's salty swells."
"and the young men brimmed the mixing-bowls with wine."
"as the sun set and darkness swept across the earth."
"and always dear to our hearts, the feast, the lyre and dance and changes of fresh clothes, our warm baths and beds."
"...as they danced across the earth that feeds us all..."