23 February 2007

So. Read any good books lately?

Why yes, actually.

I finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak a couple of weeks ago. At first I didn’t like the rather mannered writing. The initial few chapters smell of the lamp, as the French say. (Apparently). You can feel the (young, Australian) author working really hard to come up with yet another clever metaphor to cram into the already very crafted sentences. Some paragraphs felt forced in their wistfulness. Much of it is beautiful but there are only so many artful lines one can take in one short paragraph before one becomes fatigued. But after a time I fell into its rhythm and the overworkedness of it lessened and I became engrossed by the story. And you have to love a story narrated by the character Death.

Next I picked up Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Such an ambitious book, but man, he pulls it off. This book includes several narratives set in Teh Olden Days, the 1930s, 1970s, 1980s, the future, and the way far off future. Each story breaks (at a cliffhanger usually) then continues later in the book in reverse order until you finish with the bit you started at, sort of. Links and common threads run throughout each story, and the writing matches each character and era which is a lot of fun. Lots of themes of beginnings and endings, and love and truth. It’s the kind of book where you can’t wait to get to it again, but don’t want it to finish. I had to digest this book for two whole days before picking up my next book (Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson). (Which I am thoroughly liking so far and she’s only just been born on page 43).

Oh, I’m also listening in the car to The Impressionist by Hari Kunzru. I read this a couple of years ago but am enjoying it even more on audio tape, especially as it’s read by the honey-voiced author himself. You know how you picture someone from their voice? I have this fantasy that this guy is a young hip London Indian who is absolutely truly madly deeply gorgeous. I read on another blog recently (can't remember who, sorry) that they, the blogger, listened to something read by 'some Brit called Simon Callow', and she had built up a beautiful fantasy of a Hugh Grant lookalike. Ahem. Simon Callow is a great actor but he does not resemble HG. Made me giggle. I wonder if my own fantasy is equally as far fetched? Must google.

Speaking of books, this was the scene on the dining table the other morning.

obsessed

Have I mentioned before that Son #1 has an obsessive personality?

In other riveting news I’m knitting gnomes, sewing pumpkins and enjoying the break from baking birthday cakes right now.

22 comments:

shula said...

Personally, I have no issue with the obsessive personality.

And a 12 year old boy hooked on Arthurian legend?

Frankly, there should be more of it.

kirsty said...

ha ha ha! smiling at the thought of Simon Callow as a Hugh Grant-alike :)

Love your reviews - just the kind of info I like to have about a book

daysgoby said...

Ah! So thrilled, and then so disappointed!

I just got back from the library today - I picked up The Cloud Atlas, but mine's by Liam Callanan - I'll let you know if it bears any resemblance to yours!

Thimbleanna said...

Well, what a weird coincidence. My book group is just getting ready to read The Book Thief which I was going to blog about yesterday but my day was gripped by a thick fog that reminded me of you and Pea Soup and one thing led to another and the blog story changed.... Thanks for sharing your opinion of The Book Thief -- I really dislike "forced metaphors", so we'll see if my group picks up on that....

Suse said...

13 Shula, 13.

He is A Teenager and we must not forget this.

Janet said...

aha, I thought Arthurian legend. Has he read The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley? It's kind of a chick book but I loved it, well I would, but it's very readable nonetheless. There are further in the series, but not as good IMO. Let me know if he'd be interested, I could poke around and see if we have a spare copy handy, there being a few MZB readers in our family.

shula said...

Sorry.

Of course.

My mistake.

MrsFife said...

Um, you'd have this site for Kunzru, right? http://www.harikunzru.com/
Would he qualify as madly deeply wildly (!!!) gorgeous?

Ash said...

Those Mary Stewart books are awesome. Your son should enjoy them :)

martina said...

Son #1 and I have the same obsession!

Wendy said...

I LOVED The Book Thief...became totally engrossed in it. I have Kate Atkinson's book on my list to be read sometime in the next few months, so glad to hear you are liking it :)

MsCellania said...

Yummy post. Ummmmmmmm!

I think obsessive and teenage hormones are kind of a hand and glove thing. Eugh - that wasn't a very good comparison. Ack - I'm too tired to fix it!

And I bet you are tired of birthdays! We have that here, too - birthdays 30 days apart and of course if you go All Out for Youngest, Oldest has a schnoz severely out of joint if the same isn't done for him.

danielle said...

I enjoyed the Book Thief, but had the same reaction to some of the writing. I started to keep a list of impossibly inane descriptions, the adjectives that are completely unsuited to the nouns they described.

herhimnbryn said...

I'm pretty sure you will enjoy the rest of 'Behind the scenes'I have read it twice now and loved it.

May I make a suggestion for your well read teenager?

'Sword at Sunset', by Rosemary Sutcliffe. A story of a true Celtic Arthur.

ps . Thanks for the tip on ' Eucalyptus'.. a great book that I now have to buy for the bookshelf.

tut-tut said...

Have you read The Emperor's Children, by Claire Messud? I highly recommend it.

Rosemary Sutcliffe is always a sure bet.

Stomper Girl said...

I think I had my Arthurian obsession at ezzackly the same age!

nutmeg said...

I just posted about The Book Thief too. I know what you're saying (and so much better than myself) but the main thing that "got" me was the I cared what happened to the characters - so that is generally a thumbs up for me (and the subject matter, setting and time interests me too). Zusac's writing puts me in mind of Jonathon Safran Foer and Nicole Krauss - two writers which tend to polarise opinion too; I personally like each of them.

I have Cloud Atlas on my TBR pile. I read his latest Black Swan Green and enjoyed it but Cloud Atlas sounds very different to it - not that that puts me off!

And I really applaud your son's obsession - books and Arthurian stories and legends - excellent.

Sharon said...

Suse - Have you read Ghostwritten??? It is also by David Mitchell... An interesting style of writing too - each chapter a short story if you like but in some way related to the next... Some of the relationships/connections are obvious - some less so... This has been one of those books which has continually 'spoken' to me... I have resisited buying it until a customer came into the shop and was talking about it - me, not realising it was the same book thought it sounded interesting... A couple of weeks later he handed it to me over the counter and said here it is - read it... So I am!!!
I loved The Book Thief - I often recommend it to customers as a read which is a little different - I really liked the idea of the narrator being Death... I, like nutmeg perhaps sees its value in its subject matter... That author I belive has written an earlier book callled The Messenger set in Sydney - the main character is a taxi driver... In my 'neverending' pile to read is 'Atlas Shrugged' A Fine Balance and The Kite Runner... Working in a bookshop there are constant temptations - but of late i am finding especially the fiction is either historical romance or Dan Brown look alikes... Please don't get me wrong these have their place on the shelf... Don't let me forget Harry Potter who is due to sweep into our stores, on the 21st July... Will he die or won't he die???? I think some customers think we have a hot line to JK Rowlings - we are continually asked do we know the ending/ is this the very last book??? All boxes are embargoed until opening time 9.01- even the booksellers don't get a sneak preview...People are setting aside that weekend to read 'Deathly Hallows... Now back too Ghostwritten....

seldom said...

The sword in the stone is one of my favourite books ever - I love the bit about the singing forest. I was an obsessive 12 year old girl once ...

BabelBabe said...

So glad you are enjoying the Atkinson.
and I felt the same way about BT - it grew on me though. And just fyi, no offense to tut-tut, i *hated* Emperor's Children.

as for your hottie author, he's ok, although he is blonde. I wonder what Mitchell looks like - off to google....

Katya said...

I have all those books except the Yeatman one. Janet, my son had his Arthurian obssession at about the same age and it never occurred to me to give him The Mists of Avalon but he found it lying around the house and he loved it.

String Bean said...

Good book, reviews. Nothing that catches my eye except the honey-voiced author.

I love your last sentence. Knitting gnomes and sewing pumpkins. Why does that sound like a book title to me?