Saturday, May 24, 2008

Life on the edge (x3)

No, the title of this post has nothing to do with Guanajuato. Or Mexico. Or my travels. It does have to do with my literary travels, however. For those of you who might wonder what I was up to this winter, when this blog was so long dormant, one of the answers (besides mundane stuff like taxes, estate planning, and time at the dentist - there's a hellacious trifecta right there, eh?) is that I was reading. Possibly more than is healthy - it's a bit of an addiction - and I was steaming through close to a book a day for a while there. For those of you interested in the full story, there's a little link to somewhere on this page, clicking on it will take you to a site where all the gory details are listed.

But on the assumption that not everyone cares that much about my reading trajectory, I thought it might nonetheless be interesting to include some of the recent highlights and lowlights on this blog. Which is what this post, and the next, is about.

In this post, I want to mention three books I read in almost consecutive order during last autumn. The connecting theme is that each examines lives lived under extreme circumstances; other than that, the books could hardly be less similar.

The first was Jose Samanago's "Blindness". In brief, I enjoyed it quite a lot, once I got over some initial dislocation with his deceptively simple, fable-like prose style. The recent movie adaptation appears to be getting mixed reviews. Here is a link to my review of the book:

The second was "The Sparrow" by Maria Doria Russell. Rumor has it that a movie of this book, starring Brad Pitt, is in the works.

The third, and by far the most irritating, was Russell Hoban's "Riddley Walker". The charitable judgement might be 'an ambitious failure'; a less charitable assessment would involve the phrase 'pretentious, time-wasting drivel'. I tried to be fair in my review, lord knows I tried:

Of the three, I would give my highest recommendation to "The Sparrow". Highly ambitious, not always successful, but its characters and their situation still remain with me.

That's it from the world of apocalyptic fiction for now. If you were expecting a reader's guide to "The Road", you're on your own. Cormac whatever his name is manages to attain a level of pretentiousness in his style which is incompatible with my reading habits.

Coming soon - 3 classics you might want to (re)consider.

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