Journey to the End of the Night

This was a long, strange trip. I read it because Bukowski seemed to enjoy it. I think he called it his favorite book, or at least one of.

I don't know that I completely "got it". It might be the kind of thing I'll have to re-read to fully appreciate. As a writer, I was fascinated by Céline's use of dialogue. Especially the ellipses (…). I still can't bring myself to use them; for some reason they always feel like a cheap out. Anyway, the whole story felt like a long ramble, and by the time I got to Ferdinand's final vocation, everything seemed appropriate.

I don't know what to make of the ending. It was as though Céline just decided to stop, rather than conclude. In a way, the whole thing spins out like a long, drunken yarn that I forced myself to sit through. It was redeemed by the very strong, cynical observational passages. I've highlighted the ones that rung the truest for me.

The afterword in the edition I read was weirder than the book itself. I wish Chuck (Bukowski) was still around so I could sit down and have a nice long talk with him about the story. Instead, I'm left to form my own conclusions. While I think I'm better for having read this, my life experience perhaps hasn't been dark enough to fully appreciate what Céline was going for. And maybe the recognition of that fact is enough.



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