Friday, August 19, 2011

12 Books in 12 Months: A Book for Which You Have Not Already Seen the Movie

Title: A Clockwork Orange
Author: Anthony Burgess

Image via The Book Mark

I've seen other Kubrick films - Spartacus, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Eyes Wide Shut - but have managed to avoid A Clockwork Orange. I've always assumed that I wouldn't have the stomach for the violence and the book did little to ease my misgivings. I've long had a plan to read Brave New World, A Clockwork Orange and 1984 together but now that I'm two thirds of the way through the dystopian trilogy, I don't think I'm up for a re-read of the Orwell novel. While I wrote in my review of the Huxley work that Brave New World is not as dark as 1984, A Clockwork Orange is thoroughly grotesque.

A Clockwork Orange reminds me of Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting in many ways: a frequently violent book about disenfranchised youth written in vernacular. Of course, in Burgess's case, it's an invented vernacular but the reader's task of figuring out what half the words mean is comparable. Burgess very helpfully supplied a glossary for his book. I think Welsh's approach was more clever - using the same word in context several times in proximity so the non-Scot can derive its meaning. There are other important differences, of course. Welsh's heroin-addicted protagonist, Mark Renton, is surprisingly likable while Burgess's Alex is a thoroughly psychopathic monster.

A Clockwork Orange is certainly well-written and pulls no punches in making its sociopolitical points. I'm glad to have read it for my own cultural enrichment but it would be a stretch to say I enjoyed reading it. For me, it was the reading equivalent of rubber-necking on the highway. The story is heinous but I just...can't...look...away...


I hope that you, too, will join the 12 Books in 12 Months challenge. Details are here. My own list and books read by others shall be maintained on the pages list on my sidebar. Other blogs currently participating:

My Wife - Wikes! Hikes on the Long Trail
Mrs. Mock - Exclamation Point (!)

If you'd care to join the challenge, please let me know by commenting below or e-mailing me at Also, please tell me how and where I can follow your posts. Don't be shy about suggesting other categories, either. It is my intention to compile a new list of 12 once this one is completed. My only parameter is that no one should have to buy anything in order to complete the challenge - nothing beyond a library card required.

1 comment:

  1. Never read the book but saw the movie when I was in high school...grotesque & violent certainly apply, along with disturbing.