Honey for the Bears by Anthony Burgess: Book Review
“Prof. Brooks-I have enjoyed your class immensely and I have developed a much greater appreciation for Russian history and literature. I wish you all the best and a speedy recovery from your surgery. Sincerely—Ishai (dated)”
I left out the last name and date to protect the innocent. There's something a touch sad about giving away a gift--especially a book. Even if it seems to be from some ass-kissing kid. Prof. Brooks couldn’t have much cared for the book or he wouldn’t have sold it to some used bookstore in
This is a funny book. More than once, I found myself chuckling out loud, and re-reading sentences put together quirkily with an odd flamboyance. High-brow literature written for the Three Stooges. Briefly, the book is about an Englishman, Paul Hussey, who is voyaging to
Paul Hussey is an endearing character. Even when he attempts an "erotic assault" on the Russian maidenhood. Whenever he gets caught breaking the law, lying or cheating, he is indignant and outraged like some wronged customer at a fancy store. Never does he feel afraid, ashamed or guilty. It works well, and has a slap-stick comedic feel to it.
But despite all this, I was never really engrossed by the book. A classic “it’s not you, it’s me” problem. Well-written, fresh, interesting, funny and indeed "fizzing with energy" as the book jacket reviewer proclaims giddily—I should have loved it. But didn’t.
I was almost bored by large parts of it. Especially when he is describing all the Russian architecture and boisterous, drunken oddities of the Russian people. But he never rambles on about it--not really. And it is clear that he has a soft spot for the Russian people so his jabs feel familial somehow, instead of cranky and dismissive.
Regardless something about the chemistry of my brain when I was reading it or maybe the cosmic address of the moon in the sky---something stopped me from devouring this book. It's slightly unnerving to have an indefensible opinion, which is why I went out and got A Clockwork Orange this weekend. Await firm opinions on Burgess.