The Plague Bookclub

Our Plague Book Club recommends the following books for a Plague year: The Black Death (Philip Ziegler) (1969) “All the citizens did little else except to carry dead bodies to be buried… At every church they dug deep pits down to the water-table; and thus those who were poor who died during the night were bundled up quickly and thrown into the pit. In the morning when a large number of bodies were found in the pit, they took some earth and shovelled it down on top of them; and later others were placed on top of them and then…

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A Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles)

(2016) In 1922, at the age of 33, the urbane Count Rostov is exiled by the People’s Comissariat for Internal Affairs to the Hotel Metropol, Moscow for life upon pain of death.  He is spared immediate execution only because he is known as the author of a poem in praise of the pre-revolutionary cause:- “Alexander Ilyich Rostov, taking into full account your own testimony, we can only assume that the clear-eyed spirit who wrote the poem Where Is It Now? has succumbed irrevocably to the corruptions of his class – and now poses a threat to the very ideals he…

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Auto de Fe (Elias Canetti)(1935 – trans. into English in 1946)

A surreal representation of pre-World War 2 Mitteleuropa (specifically Germany), Nobel Prize winner’s novel Auto de Fé is an intense and disturbing stew of poverty, insanity and brutality.  Dr Peter Kien, who is (at least in his opinion), the world’s greatest Sinologist, leads a strictly structured, hermetic life of study and paper-writing. He subsists on an inheritance, treating offers of professorial chairs with contempt. Although his housekeeper Therese has shown no attention  at all to Kien’s 4-room library  during the eight years she has lived in his apartment – other than in assiduously dusting it, Kien is enchanted when she…

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Australian Classic Fiction

The Varnished Culture thinks some Australian novels are worthy of the whole world: An Imaginary Life (by David Malouf) The Book Thief (by Markus Zusak) Capricornia (by Xavier Herbert) The First Man in Rome (by Colleen McCullough) Gould’s Book of Fish (by Richard Flanagan) The Harp in the South (by Ruth Park) The Magic Pudding (by Norman Lindsay) The Man Who Loved Children (by Christina Stead) The Merry-go-round in the Sea (by Randolph Stow) My Brilliant Career (by Miles Franklin) My Brother Jack (by George Johnston) Oscar and Lucinda (by Peter Carey) Picnic at Hanging Rock (by Joan Lindsay) Power Without Glory…

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Blonde (Joyce Carol Oates)

November 25, 2019 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | Fiction, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WRITING & LITERATURE |

(published 2000) We at TVC have never been charmed by the pasty, lumpy creature ‘Marilyn Monroe’; the bundle of affected moues, fleshy wiggles and whispers that the Frankenstein Studio reportedly stewed-up from some bits of lovelorn redneck Norma Jean and handfuls of sexpot glamour queen Marilyn.  Other than her almost-acting in “The Misfits” and her quite realistic impression of a starlet in “All About Eve“, her performances are tedious repetitions of wide-eyed Marilyn cooing and writhing her way through a sea of leering men. So, while we have little faith in Marilyn’s ability ever to inspire, we have much in…

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