Thursday, 2 July 2015

A Book I Couldn't Read

Obviously I am becoming totally shallow and shallower as my age lengthens. My brain will be a Sahara Desert before long.

 Here I had a reasonably good, even excellent book by all accounts and you think I could read past the first 100 pages, no way. Try as I might, I just couldn't get all the way through.   And I wanted to, I really did.  In fact, I now have tried to read this book twice, the last time after it won the Man Booker Prize.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton is probably one of the most interestingly crafted novels you will find.  There are many wonderful reviews, though some of that wonderfulness is aimed at this books architecture.  The story has a unique way of folding back on itself, each chapter turns out to be half the length of the chapter before and an astrological guide is used (some people have jokingly said perhaps they are not the right sign to enjoy this book).
 The New York Times reviewer called this book a mass confabulation, not a book in the normal sense.  So reading that after my failed attempts helps me feel a little better about my not getting into it.  However, the characters  didn't really interest me either so the structural stuff was maybe immaterial.  I won't be picking it up again.  But kudos to Ms Catton and her Man Booker Prize.

Managed to get all the way through this one....LOL

Singularity by Charlotte Grimshaw is a collection of short stories. I enjoyed each and every one and I've put Charlotte on my list to keep an eye out for new writings.  Each story is a unique piece but all are interlinked by five main characters.  These are interesting, true to life, flawed and wonderful.  I couldn't help but think these were real people and the events all happened to someone somewhere; there is a lot of realism here.  Also tension, Charlotte's writing is superb and she is able to convey just the right amount of tension to make you sit up and pay attention.  Her descriptions of place are wonderful but it is her exploration of people, their motives, actions etc that struck me the most.

And I made it all the way through this one...

 Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things.  There are a lot of characters in this book but mostly we follow the life of Alma Whittaker, a brilliant botanist living at the turn of the 19th century.  I loved all the plant talk and learned lots...for instance did you know the study of mosses is called bryology?  That is what Alma decides the main focus of her research will be.  But besides the science, Alma's story includes the broader themes of  romance, family, loss, aging, loneliness, etc. Yes, this is a +500 page novel, so there is a lot of room to go exploring.  I did have an issue with the direction the story took in the final couple of hundred pages or so, but otherwise I thought this was a good book.

Hope you have some great summer reading on the go.