Not a vintage year in many ways. I’m writing this on the day that Debbie Reynolds died, the day after her daughter Carrie Fisher died, the day after Rick Parfitt died, the day after George Michael died etc. etc. Not to mention Brexit, Trump, Syria and too many other deeply troubling things.
O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appears. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
The above is pretty much the only words I can find that help me make sense of it all.
But what about the books? I’ve been phenomenally busy in my real life this year, so only managed 30 in total.
The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick (TV series on Amazon also worth a look)
The Circle by Dave Eggars
Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
The Odd Women by George Gissing
Classic Christmas crime thriller from the 1930s
A re-read inspired by the boys over at Mere Fidelity
It’s excellent, do read it.
Not many contemporary writers can write as evocatively as Zadie Smith. Her descriptive language frequently takes my breath away.
“Summer left Wellington abruptly and slammed the door on the way out.”
“The moon was massive overhead and mottled like the skin of old, white people.”
“An Amazon of retail.”
But while most of this book was a pleasure to wander through , it was an ultimately unsatisfying novel-reading experience. The basic plot is of the disintegration of a 30-year marriage, but that’s fairly banal by itself. Smith presents a large number of two-dimensional and not very likeable characters, but doesn’t resolve any of their stories. At one point it seemed as if the novel would develop into a study of aesthetics in visual art, but that only gets superficial attention.
So I don’t really know what this book was supposed to be about.
Compelling, fast paced and at times, a hard, distressing read, this thriller centred around the hunt for a serial killer. What lifted it a few notches above the average was its setting in the Soviet Union at the time of Stalin’s death and into the beginning of the Krushchev era. I don’t know where Smith’s interest in the Soviet system comes from, or how much research he did for the novel. But he’s presented a very powerful image of what it might be like to live a life, where every movement is monitored, no-one can be trusted and your home, career, position and the safety of your whole family be jeapardised after a bad day at work.
Someone very like Sheldon Cooper falls in love with someone very much not like Sheldon Cooper. This book has a heart; it’s well written and with some seriously laugh-out-loud funny moments, the pages rattle along.
A complicated mystery / thriller, what you might call an ugly read. I struggled to like any of the characters.