Archive for May, 2006

Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

It took a few tries to get into this book, and, even now, it took the character of Fermín to get me more eager to read, to keenly wait for what was going to happen. The story line itself was wonderful, from the cemetery of forgotten books to the fate of the novelist, who seems to keep on dying various ways. The Spain/Barcelona in the book is supposed to be Franco’s, but somehow the reality of living in a dictatorship doesn’t come through — there are police like Fumero everywhere — also, I guess the premise is too Latin to a Northern European, feelings tend to throw people around a bit too much. I am also not sure if I like the way of telling big parts of story by various voices, who, while supposedly different from the main narrator, still sound the same. But I did love many parts of the book, the love of books on every page; the book collectors have the all consuming need to get the rare ones, the cat named Kurtz, as a hello to Joseph Conrad, and, in the end, the need to write books is victorious, conquers all, with the Victor Hugo pen.

Carol Shields: Happenstance — The Wife’s Story

Saturday, May 20th, 2006

The companion book of the husband’s story — the same days, partly the same events, the other half of the shared history. And shows how differently the same event can be seen, how differently the same people can be looked at from another point of view, and also, while different, the love is same between the two people, and with their children. Well-written, and also funny, both books well worth reading. And thinking about.

Carol Shields: Happenstance — The Husband’s Story

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

Jack Bowman only wants to have quiet life, but during the time when his wife Brenda is away in Philadelphia, it turns out to be anýthing but. Shiedls, one of literature’s great losses, manages to make these days of ordinary looking life something special, worth reading and living with, every minute of it, with characters who feel alive all the way. And it’s funny, too.

Jared Diamond: Collapse

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

A heavy book with some pretty heavy issues; why do civilisations collapse, and can anything be done prevent it? Diamond doesn’t claim he has all the answers, but he does ask a few rather uncomfortable questions, especially to a first worlder reader even now overusing the resources, and the book will definitely haunt this reader for a long time. Sometimes there is a feel, that this had been put together a bit too quickly, but I guess when the end of the world is close, we can forgive small sloppiness.

Angela Carter: Wise Children

Monday, May 1st, 2006

Like the lives of the Chance sisters, this novel is sheer fun — and fun to read. Also impossible to describe and/or review it in a few lines, with all its twins, identical and fraternal, its marriages, some lucky, at least for a time, some not so, and the theatrical London behind it all, living and breathing and begetting people and fates like these. Angela Carter truly is a big, big loss to the world’s literature, to us all.