Review of Crime and Punishment

Crime and PunishmentCrime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My reading of Crime and Punishment was the start of what I hope to be a revisiting of numerous Russian classics. I read all the big guns (barring War and Peace) many years ago and, quite frankly, got NOTHING out of them. I was confused, bored, confused, unable to wade through the thick writing, confused and, lastly, confused.

I should probably address my confusion. I am, in real life as well as in art, an absolute clod at handling peoples’ names. And it is common in the writing of many languages for characters to be referred to with various handles. In Russian you have the complete name, the last name, and the familiar name all interchanged willy nilly. So your main character will be Raskolnikov for the first ten pages and then suddenly someone named Rodya will be addressed. And you’re supposed to know with zero instruction that this is Raskolnikov’s nickname, or familiar address. Which is fine. I shorten Elizabeth to Liz or Thomas to Tom or Richard to Dick (though I’ve never understood that last one). But when it’s a nickname for a giant name in a foreign language that I hadn’t grasped much to begin with and has very little to do with the original name and there is zero hand-holding given…well I get lost. Combine three names per character with 12 or 13 main characters and for me it’s a complete cluster-f**k of proper nouns that I have a hard time keeping straight.

Ten years ago I was lost, now I managed to keep my head in the game and sort out what name referred to whom with, for me, shocking accuracy.

I know that seems like a terribly superficial thing to dwell on, but nothing has effected my ability to enjoy Russian literature more than this. And I’m not saying it should change, again, this is standard fare for many languages, but man does it make for some rough going.

Okay, that’s out of the way, now onto the book. The book is awesome. Somehow I missed this ten years ago. It’s a brilliantly gripping story of murder told mainly through the eyes of the murderer. Raskolnikov’s madness and rambling thoughts are beautifully painted as well as his struggles during lucid moments to come to terms with what he actually believes. This struggle takes place amid tons of philosophical ramblings from all the characters. But the philosophies discussed were only barely overwritten (I generally have little patience for authors who let a character take ten pages to pontificate on their personal philosophy…a few sentences, sure, but I’ve never been out drinking and heard anyone talk for twenty minutes straight about the nature of man. It just doesn’t happen and whenever I catch an author doing this it pulls me out of the story). The cast of characters were interesting, the numerous subplots of blackmail, coercion, love and desperate attempts to cling to the past were all fascinating. Not to mention you get a very interesting twist on the classic Who-Done-It here where…well you *know* “Who Did It.” You watch him do it. And yet the book manages to keep the police investigation interesting and believable as well as cast just enough doubt on what on earth actually happened due to Raskolnikov’s somewhat unreliable viewpoint.

And then, after all of this, at the end, you are suddenly given just a stunningly beautiful affirmation of humanity and love that came so out of nowhere yet had a perfect foundation under it that I got chills up and down.

I can’t wait to read this again in ten years…maybe even less…depends on how long War and Peace takes me.

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Interview up at Freda’s Voice

I’ve started making the rounds on the internet to promote Persistent Illusions. There should be a number of reviews and Q&A’s and a few marble statues depicting me standing over a slain lion cropping up over the next few months. You know, the usual stuff.

Freda from interviewed me last week and the post is now live. Ever wonder why my grammar seems distinctly non-English or what my favorite book is or what advice I’d give to new authors or what I look I like with orange glasses on and a week’s worth of stubble?

(Hint…click here for the answers)

Art Contest is Done

See? I told you it would take me awhile to get my head together and officially end this thing. Technically the submission deadline for the Second Annual Fan Art Contest was last Saturday. A few extensions were granted…because I forgot to announce it was over. And because I’m nice. And sort of lazy. Also I like Cookies n’ Cream ice cream better than anything except for Heath Bar Crunch.

So the entries are in, except for the extensions granted, and I’ll get them together and run them past judges and do the hallaballoo like last year. It’s worth keeping in mind that it’s roughly 160 degrees out and I have family visiting, so it may be a few weeks until we revisit this.

Thanks as always to my fans who dared to throw their art into the mix. I love all of it and sleep better at night knowing there are people out there who actively want to take my 200,000 word long brain spasms and create their own art from them.

Stay cool, everyone.

48 Hours Left…Depending on When You Read This

The Great Second Annual Joseph Devon Fan Art Extravaganza Giveaway Contest is coming to a close for this year! I added more words to the name because that makes it better.

You have 48 hours left until Friday the 15th at midnight EST when the contest officially closes. And then, to be honest, you probably have until I get up on Saturday morning when I get to my computer and write about how the contest is over.

So far there have been some great works submitted, the usual slew of drawer cleaning exercises, AND there have finally been some “cocktail napkin sketches.” Nothing technically on a cocktail napkin yet, but a few entries in that vein.

So go spill some paint or doodle in Microsoft Paint or craft a work of exquisite sand art or just have some fun with a sharpie and your forearm and make me some art.

Do it.

Otherwise Mary will die.

10 Days Left in the Art Contest

The Second Annual Joseph Devon Fan Art Contest (I really need to shorten that next year) has TEN days left for entries.

Get a move on people.

To inspire you I’ve placed Jack Davies latest entry below. Please click on it for a larger size so you can actually read it.

I laughed.

Quite hard.