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Full Version: My Amazon review of Corelli's "Wormwood"
The Fée Verte Absinthe Forum - The Oldest, Largest, Most Authoritative Absinthe Forum. > Absinthe & Absinthiana > The Absinthe Library
Hemingway's Hangover
Fin-de-Siecle' meets "Reefer Madness"!! , September 13, 2006

There should really be two reviews here; one for Corelli's work and another for the work of Kristen Macleod, the editor and academic who wrote the introductory material. Since KMC's material comes first in the text, I will deal with it in that order.

The introductory essay is an obvious attempt to glorify Corelli's work and place the pulp novelist in the upper reaches of the cannon along with writers like Oscar Wilde, who is attacked directly in the text (which is pretty funny, really -- if there was any writer who was marginalized for the issues writers like Macleod supports, it was Wilde. Her attack misses the mark by miles) and whose importance the writer attempts to minimize. Sigh. This is literary criticism of what Harold Bloom so rightly labelled the "School of Resentment". Corelli was a fine writer, entertaining and enjoyable, but to place her histrionic, paranoid pulp on the same level with Joyce and Faulkner is just plain goofy. Give it up.

The novel itself a BLAST. Corelli's over-the-top prose style introduces a young French banker and wannabe literati named Gaston (what else would he be named?) who is gradually seduced away from respectability and into the louched life by painter Andre Gessonex. Gaston soon finds himself a murderous addict in thrall to the wiles of the irresistable Green Fairy and is unable to save himself or the women he loves. He stalks the streets of Belle Epoque Paris like a stoned Jack the Ripper, ready for death and dissolution.

The "translations" of conversational French are hilarious: they include Corelli's footnotes (did you know that the French call waiters "Garcon"? Apparently Corelli felt it important enough to note, along with a host of other dubious entries.) and keeps the amazingly brisk, derisive and hysterical tone high throughout.

I recommend this novel highly for absinthe lovers, just skip the introduction if you don't have a strong stomach for foolishness.
Great review and spot on about Macleod's commentary.
I just went on Amazon and when I came across your review for Wormwood, on a lark I clicked on the thing that took me to all of your reviews. I actually remember reading some of them in the past (namely the one for Moulin Rouge--another spot-on review-- and the absinthe related books), and I have to say that for the most part I agree with you on all of them. I will admit to liking House of Leaves, though I haven't read the other authors you recommended in its place. Anyway, I'll be checking out some of those books. Thanks.
Hemingway's Hangover
QUOTE(ubu @ Nov 24 2006, 01:13 AM) *

Anyway, I'll be checking out some of those books. Thanks.

Go with "The Banquet Years" if you are even remotely interested in belle epoque art and culture. It's terrific.
I will, thanks!
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