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A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess is probably my favorite novel of all time, yet I rarely find myself recommending this book to my friends. With other favorite books of mine, like Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five and King's Misery, I found myself recommending them to everyone. Why won't I recommend A Clockwork Orange to everyone? Well, it takes dedication to read. The book is only about 200 pages yet it will probably take you about as much time as a 400 page book. Why is it such a challenging book to read? Well here is an average outtake from the book:
But then I counted odin dva tree and went ak ak ak with the britva, though not at litso or glazzies but at Georgie's nosh-holding rooker and, my little brothers, he dropped. He did. He dropped his nosh with a tinkle tankle on the hard winter sidewalk. I had just ticklewickled his fingers with my britva, and there he was looking at the malenky dribble of krovvy that was redding out in the lamplight."
Can you understand that? I can! Anthony Burgess made up a complete new slang for this novel. I'm one to often make up words, but what Burgess did in this novel is just absolutely amazing. At the beginning of the book you have no clue what's going on. There are only a few cases where Alex, the narrator, actually tells you what the words mean. After a while, you start to understand the language, funky words, odd sentence structure, and all.
The story is in first person and told by our narrator Alex as he goes through a very interesting journey. Alex tells you his story as if you were one of his droogs, (gang members) which means he talks to you very informally. Alex is a problem child, to say the least. He's in his early teens and he seemingly cannot do anything but evil. The book shows Alex and his droogs going around for a while doing anything that they can to do bad. They do anything from beating up random people, to stealing, to tearing up the seats on the bus on their ride home. One day, when Alex breaks into a woman's house and beats her up, he accidentally kills her. His droogs rat him out to the police and they track him down and take him to jail. After a few years in jail the police decide to test their new plan for saving criminals, and the first person they test it on is Alex. With new medicines, they make it so Alex can only do good and the thought of doing anything wrong makes him sick to his stomach. From there on it shows what Alex is like without being able to do wrong.
I love the books that show you the minds of criminals, and this is by far the most interesting that I've read that fits into that category. Alex talks about how pleasant things are so horrible and acts like you know where he's coming from with his argument. At the beginning of the story Alex and his droogs beat up a guy because he has a book called The Miracle of the Snowflake. Alex is an amazingly drawn out character. I can't even imagine how Burgess both created his own language, added a great story, and an amazingly deep character. The book is very funny at times. Alex lies to you not realizing that he had told you something else earlier. He lies to so many other people about what really happened with certain stories that he starts believing them himself. Other characters tell jokes about him and Alex tells you that he can't understand the jokes, when you yourself are falling out of your chair laughing. A Clockwork Orange isn't all laughs though, for its mature subject matter that includes a ton of violence, a lot of stealing, and even some rape. The book has a superb moral that leaves you thinking for weeks and weeks on end. There's an extra chapter added onto the latest publication of the book that was never released in the American version. I can't figure out why they would have taken it out of it in the first place, it wraps things up much better.
I have yet to see the movie, but from what I've heard, it's extremely disturbing and I can imagine it being disturbing. The book, however, isn't very disturbing because it is told by such an unlikeable and fairly silly character, in a fairly silly sounding slang. I can't imagine the movie being better than the book, this book is just too good and you wouldn't be able to capture all of the feelings you feel in it. Every other story I've read that was written in a first person viewpoint to being on the big screen hasn't really turned out that well. If you can get past the difficult slang definitely read this book, you will not regret it, but there are always going to be those who can't get past the slang.
Watch the film - it's really good! Part of what makes it so disturbing is that Alex is a likeable character; there's a lot of humour and that's hard to process alongside the violence. I'm embarrassed to say that although I've owned the book for a few years, I haven't actually read it yet... Great review. Leigh :-)
plod591 22.10.2007 09:52
Like the review and example of the slang used, seen the film, but I am not sure I could fancy the book.
MAFARRIMOND 22.10.2007 03:22
I've seen the film a few times and yes it was disturbing. I would be interested in reading the book. muareen x x