Sunday, May 02, 2010

More books

Read a few books recently.

An Artist in a Floating World
by Kazuo Ishiguro. Very enjoyable and thoughtful story set in post war Japan that deals with, through a domestic setting, the way pre-war and post-war society reveres, then reviles, those who led them into the war, be that through political decisions or propagandist art. Interesting stuff and as well told as ever by Ishiguro.

The Buddist of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi. A great, spiralling story of growing up in the London suburbs. Set in and around London I knew some of the locations and streets, even if it was based in the 1970s. A great mix of high realism and slightly mad story plotting combined to make a highly enjoyable, and without being pretentious, profound novel on the ways of parents, children and growing up interlink.

Remember Me by Melvyn Bragg. Melvyn Bragg has had a tragic life. His first wife killed himself and he had two breakdowns before he was 31. True. This book, 550 pages long, is that entire story of Joe (read Bragg) meeting Natasha (his wife, Lisa) and their life growing up until her death. It's sad to know that happened to a man who is so watchable on interesting shows, but it's sadder still that I just found this book so boring. So much telling and not showing. The amount of times that Natasha is described as "wonderful" and "one in a million" by other characters, without any hard proof for us, as the reader to understand this, drove me mad.

She says nothing of note, nothing funny, interesting, clever, profound, nothing.

She does write a book, but we see nothing of this process, we are just told that she begins it, then finishes it. It is published and reviewed favourably. Talented, clearly, but so in your face with the fact that "this is what happened, take my word for it", that I found it tiresome to be given no chance to see anything, but instead be force fed the story.


John Medd said...

I've only read Ishiguro's The Remains Of The Day. As is so often with these weighty tomes - it's worth the emotional investment you make in them.

Dan Worth said...

Yes, Remains of the Day is excellent. So hypnotic some of the writing and a sad story.

Highly recommend Never Let me Go too. that is even sadder and so moving but never OTT. The film is out later this year. Read it first, in case film ruins it.