I was, alas, too young to listen to The Goons the first time around but over the years I’ve heard bits and pieces of them here and there. Today, however I stumbled across the clip below and have been catching up with some of the stuff I’d missed. The simple humour, the naivete of character… delightful, clever and hilarious.
I read it in one sitting and… only kidding! I’ve been on with it for a few days, now, and I’m about 160 pages in. I realise, of course, that it’s far too early to judge just how readable the novel as a whole actually is (this edition runs to in excess of 1,400 pages) but so far I’m finding it absolutely riveting. Tolstoy through necessity draws his characters with an economy that I find extremely attractive. The brushstrokes are quite broad, but for all that there is an enviable subtlety to it that gives it a relevance that I hadn’t expected.
I should have known, though. As I have said before, I read Anna Karenina many years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve already used the word “relevance”, I know, but that’s the overwhelming feeling I get from it. It doesn’t seem at all dated. I watch and listen to these characters and despite our obvious differences, I understand their dilemmas and concerns in a way that I seldom do when reading contemporary fiction
To write this quality of work and knock out twelve children… that Tolstoy — what a guy!
(Expect more on this subject over the coming weeks, months, years… why not, decades! From the comments and reviews I’ve read, I’m expecting a few difficulties up ahead!)