Drew’s #23 — A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

 

Yuk, Yuk, Yuk!  …and I don’t mean “funny”!  The book is as awful as the movie but pretentious enough to present itself as a social criticism.  The story follows Alex the hooligan as he vandalizes, rapes, murders, and burglarizes his way arrogantly through a small field victims (including one of his own hoodlum companions) until he finds himself in prison.   There he cravenly hides behind a priest (whom the author–typical of the common, pseudo-intellectual pomposity of the rank, low-class, trash-writers-masccarading-as-socio-politically-signifcant-commentators-but-in-reality-are-no-talant-hacks–portrays as narrow and dimwitted) until he kills another inmate.  Alex’s further crimes (for which he remains remorseless and unapologetic) land him in a controversial reform program which psychologically deters him from violence and mayhem.

However, when he is released back into society, he finds his room rented out to a respectable man–appreciative of Alex’s parents, his body beaten by his mistreated cronies–now led by a rival gang leader, and his sorry self imprisoned and tortured by the husband of a woman he raped.  At long last he forlornly throws himself head-first from a window, cursing everyone and everything but himself and his woefully self-indulgent character.  Alas where an unremarkable tombstone should mark the end of this grotesque carnival of a story, the fiend refuses to just die.

Instead, our “hero” is not only saved by the society he preyed upon, but pardoned and venerated by it’s officials!  Most disturbingly, he is not simply forgiven by his loving parents but THEY seek HIS forgiveness (whereupon the rotten little twit scorns his family for his mistreatment).  Horrible wretch that he is, Alex is not only held unaccountable for his despicable deeds, he is championed as a moral role-model when he benevolently ponders putting aside his life of wickedness for adulthood.  The authors point, as he belabors to some length in the prologue, is that good and evil are a personal moral choice.  Right.  Somehow this unapologetic cesspool of profane and heathen brutality is really just a philosophical illustration of… something.  The only reason I spent a moment at all recounting this pulp in a review is to save you, gentle reader, from the wasted time of finding this out for yourself.

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