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Middlemarch: An Authoritative Text, Backgrounds, Reviews and Criticism (A Norton Critical Edition)
Bert G. Hornback, George Eliot
The Magic Mountain
Thomas Mann, John E. Woods
Love in the Time of Cholera
Gabriel García Márquez
The Stranger - Albert Camus, Matthew    Ward What a waste of space. Reminiscent of [b:Steppenwolf|16631|Steppenwolf|Hermann Hesse|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1347752205s/16631.jpg|57612] and [b:Notes from the Underground|17881|Notes from Underground & The Double|Fyodor Dostoyevsky|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1330074091s/17881.jpg|2551651], this text takes self-obsessed colonialist ennui to a new level of suck.

After burying his mother, “nothing had changed” (24) for narrator. When his buddy beats the fuck out of girlfriend on suspicion of polyamory, narrator “didn’t think anything but that it was interesting” (32). When he dropped out of university, “I learned very quickly that none of it really matters” (41). When asked by his own girlfriend to marry, “I said it didn’t make any difference to me” (id.). Even the course of events that leads him to murder an “Arab” is received with apathy: “To stay or to go, it amounted to the same thing” (57).

So, yeah, he shoots a guy five times because “the Arab drew his knife and held it up to me in the sun,” whereafter “all I could feel were the cymbals of sunlight crashing on my forehead and, indistinctly, the dazzling spear flying up from the knife in front of me. The scorching blade slashed my eyelashes and stabbed my stinging eyes” (59). Though this is not developed at trial as a defense, he does state that he shot “because of the sun” (103), which is true enough.

The douchiness only compounds, though the absurdism is comical--such as when he complains in prison that there were no women: “I thought it was unfair treatment. ‘But,’ he said, ‘that’s exactly why you’re in prison.’ ‘What do you mean that’s why?’ ‘Well, yes--freedom, that’s why. They’ve taken away your freedom.’ I’d never thought about that” (78).

Similarly comical: “For by giving it some hard thought, by considering the whole thing calmly, I could see that the trouble with the guillotine was that you had no chance at all, absolutely none” (111).

Trial itself is basically surreal--not quite Kafka, but a host of irrelevances are presented. As an attorney, I am compelled to agree with narrator’s lay opinion that “my case was pretty simple” (63). But court and counsel turn it into a melodrama about dude’s mother and how he got a new girlfriend and shared cigarettes with his mother’s caretaker. Prosecutor is a nice caricature, similar to some DAs whom I‘ve known: “I suggest to you that man who is seated in the dock is also guilty of the murder to be tried in this court tomorrow” (102) (I.e., someone else’s case).

Nifty observation during defense counsel’s summation: “I listened, because he was saying, ‘It is true I killed a man.’ He went on like that, saying ‘I’ whenever he was speaking about me. […] I thought it was a way to exclude me even further from the case, reduce me to nothing, and, in a sense, substitute himself for me” (103). Legal representation, like artistic representation, is a fiduciary duty--but it’s also a derridean supplement--a substitution and an addition. Narrator doesn’t get that, and is merely irked that he can’t have the floor the entire time, even though he has little to say, and by design: “It’s just that I don’t have much to say. So I keep quiet” (66).

Ends while appeal of death sentence is pending, confronting priest, who wishes to convert atheist narrator, with an overtly nihilistic rant, followed by some Nietzschean eternal recurrence bullshit.

Recommended for those who make it appear as though they agree whenever they want to get rid of someone whom they are not really listening to, readers who have lost the habit of analyzing themselves, and persons who have truly never been able to feel remorse for anything.