Tropic of Cancer Review
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I was twelve, as I recall, and a good friend of mine kept talking about this book heíd found at the library. ďItís called Tropic of Cancer, and itís got all kinds of swearing and sex and stuff like that in it. You just gotta read it, man. Itís awesome!Ē My interest was piqued, and I immediately got on my bike and rode twelve blocks to the local library to see for myself.

Picture, if you would, the 1930s. This is a real period piece, void of any sugary coating, any attempt to pretty up the thoughts and words of the people who lived through this time. Upon reading Millerís classic, itís easy to see how such a book could have been banned for over sixty years (although, for the record itís not a practice I condone). Within the first ten pages of the book, every single unsavory, crass, rude, offensive, and sexually depraved expression is used (some of which were even new to me) in the same flashy, in-your-face manner that can be observed in any modern rap video. In fact, the entire first chapter is a censorís worst nightmare (and a wonderful example of freedom of expression).

Once you get past the language (assuming that you want to get past it at all), itís easy to see why generations of readers have sought this book out. Itís a combination of Hemingwayís The Sun Also Rises and Salingerís The Catcher in the Rye. Itís a novel about a moody, anti-social, anti-hero, writing in poverty, with drunks and hookers and bums, in Paris in the '30s. Does it get any cooler than that?

Tropic of Cancer explores the themes of heartache, jealousy, poverty, depression, angst, and rampant sexuality. Itís an ode to everything unsavory, but romantic nonetheless with all the red wine binges and cigarette-soaked, artist-infused conversations a person could possibly hope for. Itís as close as an individual can come to actually smelling a Parisian back-alley without being there in person.

Essentially, if you want to see how far the envelope can be pushedóor if you feel like being shocked by a text thatís more than seventy years oldóthen read this incredible novel for yourself. One caution though: if youíre the type of reader who needs a well-defined plotóthat is to say a plot thatís complex, about spies and espionage or military intelligence, with twist after shocking twist and loads of action, developing into a brilliant climax that will blow your mindóthen this is not at all the book for you. But, if youíre the type of reader who enjoys a character-driven plot filled with interesting views (and expressions!) about the nature of life, love, and the rest, then be sure to check out what youíve been missing all this time.

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