Tuesday, July 06, 2010

More books

Three books read over the holiday described below.

Ever After by Graham Swift. Having thoroughly enjoyed Waterland (recommended, highly) I noticed this book in my local Oxfam for £2 and splashed out. It was definitely worth it – a sad, somber, reflective book on life, art, religion and death, it covered the life of a university tutor, knowing he is something of a fraud, ruminating on the death of his wife, his mother, his step-father, and at the same time, researching an ancestor's fall from grace as he came to question the existence of God in the 1850s. Moving, well-written stuff.

The Noughties 2000-2009: A Decade That Changed the World by Tim Footman. A supposed reflection on the 2000s, this book was really little more than a list of different ways a theme of the decade was interpreted among the art world (X wrote book Y, Z produced film A, after event T and so on (can I use other letters like that?)), and the bare facts around the events of the decade – 9/11, global warming, globilisation, war on terror, financial collapse. Only the chapter on shopping, which contained some stomach turning quotations from a chief of Starbucks about why people go to Starbucks (i.e. for the 'experience maan'), was particularly illuminating

The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje: Possibly more famous from the film (that I've not seen, but may seek out now) this was a highly-lyrical and interesting novel set in Tuscany (where I was, how apt), at the end of WWII, detailing four strange individuals thrown together in a crumbling Italian villa, and their interactions with one another from shared pasts, and possible futures. Some very clever and original set pieces, and character back stories made the book very interesting, but the ending felt a tad rushed, a bit too instantly dramatic, when one character suddenly loses his sense of purpose on hearing of the atomic bomb drops in Japan. Still, worth reading.

Any thoughts on any of the above most welcome.

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