4. Tropic of Cancer - Henry Miller
"Paris is like a whore. From a distance she seems ravishing, you can't wait until you have her in your arms. And five minutes later you feel empty, disgusted with yourself. You feel tricked."
First Publishing: 1934
i must admit, it took me a little while longer to get through this one. henry's is a style to get used to. but maybe that's why Tropic of Cancer, also his first published work, is hailed as a classic, a new voice in the modern age of literature. it's a collection of stories and observations of an american in paris; almost as if a travel journal, he keeps 'the book' with him at all times cataloging the ups, downs and all that's in between for the life of a foreigner. often schizophrenic, his stories go from tales of near starvation to banquets and feasts all smuggled for free, to sleeping on park benches and then in lavish apartments occupied by royalty, of longing for his wife back in new york, to his escapades with dozens of parisian prostitutes. his cynical view of the traditional american lifestyle plays well against the free spirited life he experiences as a writer in a flourishing interwar 1930s paris. it is an acute observation that resonates even now, nearly 80 years past. it's a sometimes shocking but accurately honest look into the maddening artist's mind; the constant search for inspiration, the lashings of writer's block to the point of near hysteria, the struggles and sacrifices that only make the final product more worth it, something to be treasured and cherished, much like Tropic of Cancer itself.