Friday, January 30, 2009

More Reading

The Plot Against America: Phillip Roth. A dark, brooding ominous book that considers what could have happened if Charles Lindburgh had become president in 1940 - given some of the openly anti-semetic statements he had been making in the months leading up the election and the rumours he was to stand for Republican party nomination. Told through the eyes of Roth himself, in that alternative past, as a nine-year-old, who watches as his family, and their world, is torn apart by the slow, creeping anti-semitism that broods in the country, as America refuses to become involved in Europe's war. The only disappointment was the ending felt very rushed and didn't seem to chime with the scene that had been set through 300 pages before; but it didn't ruin the book in anyway.

Black Swan Green: David Mitchell. A fabulous, dream-like work that charts 13 months in the life of an introverted 13-year-old schoolboy in 1980s Britain, who stammers and writes poetry, while trying to avoid these two things being discovered. All very coming-of-age but utterly beguiling, especially seeing how his opinions change from child to young-adult.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Hunter S. Thompson. Weird city man. Certainly different and one to say you've read, but is it great? I wasn't convinced that it was that great, but did enjoy its weird, tripped out style and the rash bravado of the central characters. The fact it's something of a semi-autobiographical piece of work makes it feel a more complete, purposeful work. But who am I to pass opinion on Hunter S Thompson?

Mortal Engines: Phillip Reeve. Okay this is technically a children's book - well it is, full stop a children's book, - but like Dark Materials or Harry Potter, it has an element that 'adults' can appreciate. A swash-buckling adventure story set in the future where cities move around and 'eat' smaller cities, to harvest them for materials and so forth. Lots of in-jokes for adults too - CDs being considered high-tech and spelt seedys. But it was just a children's book. What? After The Plot Against America I wanted something light. Jeez.

A Confederacy of Dunces: John Kennedy Toole. Intriguing background to this. The author killed himself because he couldn't get it published. Then his mother found it, championed it and it finally found its fame - winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1981 - 12 years after the author was dead. His frustration was, sort of, justified, as it's a fantastic, rambling, bizarre book, with one of the most outrageous lead characters ever put to page - Ignatius J. Reilly - and full of great comic turns to drive the plot. A plot that never explains itself to the reader, but trusts you to stick with it, as numerous side stories are brought in, that career into the main story, tearing off in their own direction before everything starts to converge together, in the most spectacular fashion, towards the end.

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