Book Review: “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness has been considered for most of this century as a literary classic, and also as a powerful indictment of the evils of imperialism. It reflects the savage repressions carried out in the Congo by the Belgians in one of the largest acts of genocide committed up to that time. Conrad’s narrator encounters at the end of the story a man named Kurtz, dying, insane, and guilty of unspeakable atrocities.

Oh Joseph Conrad, could you ever have imagined you’d get such conflicting reviews about your work on social media over a century after you wrote it?

Of course not, but at least his book has staying power.

I picked Heart of Darkness back up for the first time since high school, after watching “Apocalypse Now” on basic cable, and thought to myself “Let’s see if this little book is as dense as I remember it being.”

Yup.

This isn’t an easy read, nor is it particularly cheery or fun. It’s not the type of book you crack open to feel good about on a short flight or relaxing at the beach, but it’s not without merit.image of book cover of heart of darkness

The novella is a condemnation of imperialism, specifically Belgian atrocities in the Congo, and a bizarre misadventure heralded by an unreliable narrator. The subject matter is intense, and it speaks to capacity for evil that men are capable of.

I enjoyed Heart of Darkness for what it is, and it’ll definitely challenge readers more than the standard YA vampire novels that are churned out these days. I’m just glad that this time around I didn’t have to write a 4-page essay about the deeper meaning behind Kurtz’s last words.

If you’d like to grab a copy of this classic, you can use the affiliate link below and help support this blog.

Heart of Darkness (AmazonClassics Edition)

What I Liked:

  • The main character isn’t the narrator. This is kind of easy to miss, but Marlow is telling a story, and the narrator is an unnamed person sitting on a boat listening to him.
  • It’s one of the best examples of the “stream of consciousness” style in classic literature
  • The story is evocative. Its themes still resonate today.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • This story defines “purple prose”. Conrad was great at description, and loved his unnecessary words. That, along with the “stream of conscious” style can make things difficult to follow at times.
  • This book is a denouncement of European colonialism, and as such, features a LOT of racism. There are all sorts of metaphors and even some allegory in Heart of Darkness, but not when it comes to the racism. That’s just right in your face. If you’re sensitive to reading about things like that, it may turn you off.
  • The language is dense. At times I found myself re-reading passages just to assure I really understood them. It took way longer to read than a 100 page book has any right to.

 

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BOOK REVIEW: “The War of the Worlds, Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies” by H.G. Wells & Eric S. Brown

THE CLASSIC SCIENCE FICTION TALE THAT WILL EAT YOUR BRAINS! 

Never before in the history of warfare had destruction been so indiscriminate and so universal. 

Panic descends upon planet Earth once more as H. G. Wells’s terrify- ing cosmic invaders blaze a path of fiery destruction across Victorian England, leaving thousands of undead in their wake. Our adventurous narrator must survive the apocalyptic alien threat while fighting off rag- ing, bloodthirsty zombies. Who will triumph when man, Martian, and flesh-eating monster meet? Packed with fearsome supernatural creatures at every turn, Wells’s original masterpiece is scarier, gorier, and more suspenseful than ever!

I’ve been meaning to get to this one for a while.

I had a hankering for some undead horror lately, and I finally pulled The War of The Worlds, Plus Blood, Guts, and Zombies from my TBR “To Be Read” list. It’s a “blood enriched classic” in the same vein (pun intended) as the more well-known Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which means a piece of classic literature is given over to a horror author to create a “mash-up” story by blending in horror elements. It’s a fun idea that yields mixed results.

Luckily, War is a winner.

wowbgz.jpgThe first thing to know about this sub-genre is that you’re reading literature. These books are roughly 80% original material, so if you don’t like old time-y prose and dialogue, you’re best to skip it. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, or PaPaZ, as some call it, wasn’t my cup of tea because I didn’t enjoy wading through Jane Austen’s story a second time just for a few scenes of ninjas fighting zombies. Luckily, I had a much better experience with the subject of this review.

War of The Worlds was excellent source material to create a zombie mash-up from. At it’s core, War was already science fiction about a supernatural invasion, so it was a great foundation to throw the undead onto. Eric S. Brown has written numerous satirical horror stories and books, and was a good choice for a co-author. He blends the ghoulish violence and gore into the original work so well, in both plot and prose, it feels like it was always there.

The premise is that a zombie outbreak ensues when the Martians unknowingly bring some outside entity (space bacteria?) with them during their invasion. The undead nightmare becomes an issue for human and Martian alike, and is well designed as an ever-present threat woven through the story. Brown is also adept at penning graphic violence, and his description of death and destruction really delivers on the Blood, and Guts part of the title.

I highly recommend War as an entry point into the “blood enriched classics” series, and for horror fans in general. It’s a cool spin on a classic story, and it reads quickly even weighing in at over 300 pages. If you or someone you know loves alien invasion stories, zombies, or both, put it on your list to read. (You can buy it on Amazon using the affiliate link below.)

The War of the Worlds, Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies

What I Liked:

  • Great adaptation of a classic story
  • Brown seamlessly meshes zombies and gore into the source material
  • Old timey narration is funny when describing horrific violence

What I Didn’t Like:

  • A couple parts from the original story dragged
  • Some of H.G. Wells/Brown’s language was confusing at times, required re-reading

Getting Writer Friends – Wicks Writes

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I saw this post from Emily over on “Wicks Writes” and wanted to reblog it. I had previously posted about reasons to join a writer’s group and her post just reinforces that with some other great reasons to seek peer feedback on your work.

Check it out!

Hello Friends! I hope you are all having a lovely morning so far, Sundays mornings are meant for relaxation and (of course) writing. Sundays are best spent reading, writing and lounging while ignoring the ever present fact that work comes again tomorrow…forget I mentioned it! For now I will let you in on more of […]

via Get some writer friends! — Wicks Writes

Narrowing down the PURPOSE of your blog — Live to Write – Write to Live

I had to re-blog this post by Wendy E.N. Thomas over on Live to Write – Write to Live

She totally nails home the critical point that your blog…needs a point.

I’m currently teaching an adult education class on how to start a blog. When I teach these classes, we spend much time during the first class trying to narrow down the purpose of the blog you want to create. Before you can write your first word, you need to figure out […]

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