Robert Penn Warren is pretty amazing dude.
He’s the only person ever to win Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and poetry. Warren won the 1947 Pulitzer for All The King’s Men, and he won Pultizers in 1958 and 1979 for his poetry. Amazing.
I’m not a big poetry guy. I’ve tried and tried, but I’ve just never really gotten into it. But while researching RPW’s poems, I came across this one called “A Way To Love God.”
See what you think:
Here’s the thing about movies.
If you’re going to remake a film, a film that won multiple Academy Awards and received rave reviews, then you better do an unbelievably good job.
That’s why I believe the Gatsby film was a success. The previous film versions of the classic novel sucked, so the bar was set pretty low when Baz Luhrmann got around to making the movie. It wasn’t just better than previous Gatsby movies–it was a very good movie on its merit.
On the flip side, what about All The King’s Men?
With the novel, which is also my current read from the Time list, Robert Penn Warren won the Pulitzer in 1947. Playing off that success, Robert Rossen directed the 1949 movie, which won three Academy Awards, including the big one—Best Picture.
Here’s a trailer for the 1949 film, which starred Broderick Crawford.
All The King’s Men is one of those novels that has always lurked in the background of my reading list.
I’ve heard great things about it. I’ve known it as a political novel that’s highly regarded, and I’ve always wanted to read it.
Now’s that time! Honestly, the majority of my familiarity with this book comes from the Academy Award winning 1949 film.
Here are a few quick facts about All The King’s Men and its author, Robert Penn Warren.
I need a shower.
No, really, I need a shower. I know that I started off my review of Dog Soldiers with the same phrase. But that was a joke. A ha-ha funny, lame joke.
But when I finished Portnoy’s Complaint, I literally needed a shower. My skin felt like it was covered in yuckiness, nastiness just from exposing my cranial tissue (is that something?) to that novel.
What’s so sad about this is how much I loved my first experience with Philip Roth’s writing: American Pastoral was outstanding. But Portnoy’s Complaint, despite Roth’s engaging and funny writing style, was just too much.
As I mentioned in my post, How Many C Words Is Too Many C Words?, reading this novel seems similar to what reading the transcript of a porn movie might be like. A literary, highly-acclaimed porn movie, but a porn movie nonetheless.
Let me tell you a little about Portnoy’s Complaint.
I’m seriously having problems finding content to write about for Portnoy’s Complaint, due to all the graphic sexual content. But I couldn’t pass up this passage, which describes Alex Portnoy’s father’s issues with constipation.
It’s funny and a little crude. So if you don’t like potty humor, this is your fair warning for the remainder of this post.
Here’s the moving moment:
Let’s say your dad’s a famous novelist. Let’s say you’re taking a literature class and your professor asks you to write an essay on your dad’s novel—presumably, without knowing about your dad.
Do you ask your dad for help writing the essay?
Ian McEwan’s son did when he was given the assignment of writing an essay about his dad’s novel, Enduring Love.
The funny part? He got a C on the essay because the professor disagreed with his interpretation of the novel.
As Ian McEwan explains it:
My first experience with Philip Roth was American Pastoral. I loved the book.
Roth’s storytelling and writing style just blew me away.
Portnoy’s Complaint is a completely different style of novel, written a few decades before American Pastoral.
And it’s graphic. Really graphic. Almost all of it in a sexual nature. Shocking in some places. Roth’s narrator, Alexander Portnoy, uses variations of words I’m unsure I’ve ever heard before. It’s a little overdone, in my view, but I can see the forest through the trees and still appreciate Roth’s writing style.
If you can get past the lewdness, and there’s a lot of it, this can be a funny book. One particular scene from early on stands out to me.
Alex is Jewish, but has been turned off to the faith by his crazy mother, who is a devout Jew. She treats their Rabbi as if he’s the King of England, so when he shows up to see her at the hospital, Alex’s mom just about passes out from excitement. It’s a celebrity!
Alex explains his disgust:
On Friday, you guys shared your answers for the third edition of 101 Books Literary Would You Rather game.
Today, it’s my turn. Below I’ve answered my own weird questions with, more than likely, very weird answers.