Sunday, March 20, 2011

"Grendel" by John Gardner

If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm kinda all over the place with the books I choose to review.  Sometimes they're new.  Sometimes they're not.  Sometimes I don't really know (or care) if they're new or old or somewhere in between.  I just know that I like them.

You'll also notice that I bounce around from genre to genre.  That's mostly because I don't believe that any one genre has a corner on good writing.  So far I've reviewed some fantasy, some science fiction, some romance, some literature, some foreign stuff and a thriller, if memory serves.  I don't think I've delved into existentialist writing as of yet.

That changes today.

I will say that I'm not always a fan of existentialism.  I find it rather bleak.  A couple of exceptions to this?  Camus, for one... I like him quite a lot.  He was pretty chipper for a guy that believed that life ends with the void.  Matter of fact, I think he was called the existentialist saint.  Makes sense to me.

The other exception is this.  Is this novel chipper?  No.  Is there any sense of redemption here, in spite of our contemplation of the emptiness of life?  No.

It's just cool.

You take the epic poem Beowulf and tell it in modern language from the point of view of the monster.  How awesome is that?  And Grendel is interesting.  I didn't say lovable.  He's not.  He's kind of a whiner, actually, but he's got lots of interesting things to say.  There is something imminently intriguing about Grendel.  And then there's the dragon...

You know enough of me by now to know that there will be no blow-by-blow of the novel's contents.  I don't want to spoil it for anyone.  Sure, let's go with that.  Actually, I just don't have enough patience.  Or maybe it's that I'm lazy.

Whatever the real reason, if you haven't read this gem, I would highly suggest you do it.  At the very least you can use it to brag to your friends and make yourself seem erudite (and by extension, make them feel like ill-read buffoons). 

But honestly, I think you'll really dig it.  Plus, it's not that long.  So, go pick up a copy here.

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