August 31, 2007
Even in its failings it is a worthy historical document and an enticing snapshot of the pathology of its writer especially in the references to Catholic mysticism that foretell his later years, some stranded godforsaken saint in a Florida hermitage. It seems Kerouac prophesised and embodied not only the best of the coming generation (rebellion, yearning for adventure, a lust for life) but also the worst; the muddled soundbites, the aimless good intentions but lack of action, the cultural tourism towards the mystical East, the psychobabble and “astral bodies” type ramblings, the sidelining of women while preaching the fraternity of man. It’s all there and it is fascinating. Darran Anderson reviews Jack Kerouac's Beat Generation.
August 19, 2007
Amidst the fun and games though there are snags. While grounded in Catalan life, sometimes it feels too parochial especially with the persistent complaints about the city council. As with most picaresque tales, the book lacks a solid direction or progression, fluttering from unrelated scene to scene with tenuous links between. The kind of whimsy present in No Word From Gurb coupled with the staccato diary set-up can cause fatigue over the length of a novel but Mendoza has a charisma that by and large avoids irritation. Whether the book has the darkness, emotional engagement or bite to make a lasting impression is arguable, but it’s entertaining, peppered with insight and good-spirits, and hell that ain’t no crime. Darran Anderson reviews Eduardo Mendoza's No Word From Gurb.