When I picked this up I think I was somehow confusing Samuel Beckett with Saul Bellow – I know the latter is on the list for a couple of titles (one of which I’ve read – Henderson the Rain King – and did not especially enjoy) and have previously read/studied (and did like) Waiting for Godot by the former – so I wasn’t especially looking forward to reading this when I started.
Initially Malone Dies reminded me of the Tin Drum, in that its narrator is writing from his hospital (asylum ?) bed, currently incapacitated and with an apparently lose grip on reality (which could support either hypothesis for bed type). Malone switches between description of his current predicament and the story of a boy called Sapo – who is eventually institutionalised himself (which did blur the lines between him and the narrator). Halfway through Sapo’s story Malone decides that Sapo is a ridiculous name, and the character will henceforth be known as Macmann (again blurring the line between Malone/Macmann by betraying himself as an unreliable narrator).
Although Malone Dies is more abstract than the Tin Drum (but less “magic fiction”-y) I did prefer it – the ambiguity of Malone’s voice and milieu intrigued me rather than annoying me (as it often does). I think this may be the only Samuel Beckett novel on the list and I know that it was initially written in French – which would have been interesting to read alongside the English translation.