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The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

Currently re-reading, again...
Yeah, yeah, I know. Where's the review, eh? Well, don't let me disappoint you. I'm not planning to write a review of this one. In fact, I'm unlikely ever to write a review of it. This is partly because I plan to keep re-reading it in perpetuity until I understand it completely. Of course, there have been numerous famous faces who rubbished the Disney-esque narrative theories of Campell, but in truth, I can't help but love this book, even if I can't help but misunderestimate it. It's fab. It has a permanent home on the shelf next to my bed, along with Michel de Montaigne, the collected stories of Angela Carter, and William Hjortsberg's biography of Richard Brautigan.








   

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The Elephant by Sławomir Mrożek

It’s a wonder that Sławomir Mrożek lived to be 83. Maybe the post-Stalin regimes of Georgy Malenkov, Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev were less likely to pitch a critical satirist into an unmarked grave or have him dragged off to winter in Siberia than was Uncle Joe. Maybe he just wasn’t widely read and therefore not deemed a threat. Or perhaps his support of the Stalinist persecution of religious leaders in Poland and his membership of the Polish United Workers’ Party (until he defected) stood him in historical stead good enough so that he didn’t find himself on the sharp end of a radioactive umbrella. Because frankly, having read The Elephant, published in 1957 but not banned until 1968, it’s hard to see anyone in the Soviet bureaucracy letting this level of criticism go unpunished.
Take the titular story, The Elephant, one of 42 similarly absurd political satires in this slim volume. A provincial zoo, lacking “all the important animals” is awarded an elephant by the Party, muc…

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If there’s one thing about this dense, frankly mind-bogglingly erudite book to love/find empathy with (apart from my own Canadian edition’s deckle-edged hardbackedness – deckle edges; good or bad? Discuss!), it would have to be the passages narrated by Sibylla, mother to genius progeny Ludo. As a parent to one post-toddler and one pre-toddler, as well as occasional taker-up-of-space in the lives of three other young human beings, there are so very few occasions where a simple conversation can be carried out to its logical terminus without interruption and digression; conversations start, stop, return to the beginning, are interrupted once more, are delayed and postponed, and cycle back again until it’s time to give up, get off …

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