Monday, July 14, 2008
I was not too eager about reading this book, but I didn't have a choice. 'Grendel' was a required read for school this year. In the past the School Board has had the school read books such as 'Monster', 'Lovely Bones', 'The Five People You Meet In Heaven', 'Night', and the like. I never finished 'Lovely Bones', but of the others I can honestly say that I was deeply disappointed. None of them have happy endings, or beginnings for that matter. 'Grendel' was not any different.
The narrator is Grendel himself; the first monster from 'Beowulf'. He lives in a cave in the woods during the middle ages. Most of the book is about the past, and what brought Grendel to hate humans; especially Hrothgar.
The Bad: The book is gory, crude, and has some language issues. One problem I had with the language was that Grendel even admits he does not know what the words mean or imply, he heard them once used by angry men and now swears with those words himself. I personally believe that literature could do without the swearing, there are plenty of other ways to say what you are feeling (that goes for real life speech too...).
The Good: Gardner has an interesting way of writing. Somehow he convinces the reader to feel and think the same way as the monster, even if they don't want to. I don't know how many times I found myself feeling angry at Hrothgar, or the dragon, at the same time Grendel does, and then wonder how I could have felt that anger, or sympathy a paragraph later.