"Portrait of A Lady" by Henry James: What a tedious book. All that gossiping and scheming and matchmaking; if I want that I'll pick up some Jane Austen. With the end I wondered if James was sexist enough to believe all women have to be married or if he was being anti-sexist by showing how unhappy married life can be.
"Kim" by Rudyard Kipling: This felt a little like watching "Gunga Din" on TCM, though not quite as offensive. With all the "thee"'s and "thou"'s it didn't seem like Kipling had much ear for the native tongues. Despite that it was interesting as an antique and the father-son bond between Kim and the lama was nice as well.
"A Scanner Darkly" by Philip K. Dick: Actually this wasn't on my list but the library didn't have the one I wanted so I read this instead. The portrait of the five burning-out junkies was interesting in showing how paranoia and madness grips them (except for Luckman, who just seems to come and go) and drives them to destruction. Unfortunately the book fades in the end. That end drags on for too long and lacks much of a dramatic punch. I watched the movie version then and didn't like it any better. The subtlety of the book wan't portrayed on the screen, nor was the animation used to much effectiveness.
"Neuromancer" by William Gibson: I'm sure SF fans would skewer me for not caring much about this one. It's hard for me to appreciate this in 2007 the way they did back in 1984, sort of like if you watch "Citizen Kane" or the original "Star Wars" now they don't seem as revolutionary as back in the day. In reading this book I was often confused about the technology. I hate SF books that act like I should know all about the stuff they just made up so I have to try to understand about "ice" or "simstim" or "the Sprawl" and so forth from the context. If you don't want to explain it, give me a glossary in the back or some footnotes, please.
"A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess: On a similar note, I feel like I need a Rosetta stone or the universal translator from Star Trek to read this book so I can understand all the slang the narrator uses. I picked up as much as possible from the context, but it seems like I'm missing stuff. Is there a translation available somewhere? On a related note I watched the movie, remembering it was on a Bravo special of the 100 Scariest Moments or something like that. I thought the acting and choreography was so hammy that I was chuckling too much to be scared or tense, except when they put those things on his eyes; I have a real phobia about touching around the eyes. I'm sure that was the same effect as described with "Neuromancer."
That is all.