September was a bit of a hectic month for me as you can probably tell from my September Update. I started my new job, I’ve now finally made it into my new bedroom, and as I write this I am just a bit run down and ill which is never ideal. As such, I really didn’t get to experience all that much to review in September other than Kubo and the Two Strings and the three items I will be discussing today. It’s probably going to be a bit longer until I’m fully settled into everything, but that’s life. Time for my Monthly Mini Reviews for September!
The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1941)
The cover of my edition of The Last Tycoon (Source)
As you’re probably already aware, I’m a big fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work and in September I finally managed to read his final novel, The Last Tycoon, or at least what is available of it. Unfortunately, when Fitzgerald died at the age of 44, the novel remained unfinished and un-edited. With that said, it is a fascinating read. The novel tells the story of Hollywood film producer, Monroe Stahr, and his rise to power and his conflicts in the industry, largely through the eyes of the young Cecelia Brady who is in love with Stahr. Stylistically, the novel flits between first-person and third-person narrative, giving the reader a unique blend of viewing characters through their own eyes and through the eyes of another. Fitzgerald was always one to play around with how he presented his narratives, but this seems like the most effective outside of The Great Gatsby. What’s also intriguing is that the characters of the novel seem much more grounded in reality and as such grow organically as the story progresses. Plus, there’s also a level of detail in the technicalities of film production in Hollywood which further grounds the love story Fitzgerald set out to write. In the edition of the novel I own the plot outline from Fitzgerald’s notes is included along with a number of his suggested amendments to the scenes he had written and his character studies which opens up Fitzgerald’s writing process just as The Last Tycoon opens up classic Hollywood. In its unfinished state, The Last Tycoon is merely a promising curiosity which can never come to true fruition. However, had it been finished, while it probably would not have matched the perfect craftsmanship of The Great Gatsby, it certainly would’ve gotten closer than any of Fitzgerald’s other novels.
Rating: 8/10 – Great
Critical: 4/5 Personal: 4/5
Uncharted 4 (Naughty Dog/Sony, PS4, 2016)
After getting The Nathan Drake Collection when I got my PS4 and finally playing them earlier this year I was very excited to see what Uncharted 4 had to offer. The first thing you realise about the game is how damn good the game looks. Animations are outstanding, the image quality is unreal, the game’s physics are incredible, and generally it’s a showcase for what the PS4 is capable of. Gameplay is also greatly improved upon from earlier entries with combat encounters being incredibly fluid depending on your choices thanks to notably improved enemy AI. The series still suffers from the back-jump being difficult to pull off but it’s only a small issue. Then there’s the story, one which harkens back to the heights of Uncharted 2. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it has great character interactions and growth (everything between Nate and Elena is just pure gold), and in general it’s probably one of if not the most satisfying Uncharted story to date. Considering the game has to bring Nate’s story to an end, it achieves that impossible task. There’s also a whole bunch of other nifty features include in terms of an Encounter Select and other collectibles in the form of optional conversations, journal entries, and journal notes, and that’s in addition to the multiplayer mode and the plethora of difficulties. The game could probably be criticised for some of the same issues other Uncharted titles have had in the past, like an over-reliance on set-pieces, somewhat over-simplistic climbing sequences and puzzles, and the villain being one of the weaker elements of the story; but on the whole, Uncharted 4 comes out on top of the Uncharted pile alongside Uncharted 2. It’s an awesome game which is technologically spectacular and just generally a whole lot of fun to experience.
Rating: 9/10 – Awesome
Critical: 4/5 Personal: 5/5
Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, ed. Robert Bridges and Charles Williams (1930)
The title page of my edition of Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins
Gerard Manley Hopkins is at this point probably my favourite poet outside of Milton and Robert Browning, and part of that is down to his poems following me through my English Literature course from the beginning of A-Levels all the way through to one of my final exams. It was only right that I get a copy of his poems at some point and upon graduating I got a wonderful second edition collection from a bookshop in Cambridge. Having finally had the chance to read through all his poems again I am struck by how much I do enjoy them. They’re often quite simple in their imagery and generally quite religious in their message, but they’re a joy to read and a joy to analyse. Hopkins’ use of sprung rhythm means he’s unlike many other Victorian poets and writes much more like the medieval poets I’m so fond of. Hopkins also makes great use of alliteration which gives his poems a delightful punchiness when read. In the end, I’m probably a little overly biased towards Hopkins thanks to his impact on my life and because his alliterative style has seeped into my own writings, but I would highly recommend giving some of his poems a read if you get the chance as they are really fascinating.
Rating: 8/10 – Great
Critical: 4/5 Personal: 4/5