Archive for March, 2012

Book 779 Botho Strauss – The Young Man

March 27, 2012

So far I’ve disliked a lot of novels written by Germans, unfortunately Botho Strauss is joining that list.

The book is basically about an a theater director who gives up on that type of life and dedicates it to writing. As inspiration he watches people and tries to write about it. Although this plot does sound good it quickly turns into a dirge about the state of humanity and popular culture, also are bits of fantasy thrown in to add a bit of spice.

Dull dull dull. I finished it, but just.

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Book 780 Louise Erdrich – Love Medicine

March 25, 2012

 

These past two weeks have been quite a stressful one and it seems that a ton of events happened the second I opened Love Medicine. First of  all I had an infection in my chest due to the adverse weather conditions that are occurring , then a four-day trip to London (which was very enjoyable) However as I was stepping in the taxi I received the news that an uncle of mine who I was close to passed away.

Anyway it’s in the past now and I have finally finished the novel.

Love Medicine focuses on two Indian tribes living on a reservation. Each chapter is about a certain individual and his interaction with other people on the reserve. Although this seems fragmented, a story does form.  As I lived on a reservation for nine years, I knew exactly what Erdrich was referring to as she captures the life perfectly.

Saying that I just wasn’t the mood for this book so I admit my progress was a bit on the slow side but definitely I can vouch that due to the events surrounding this book it was an unforgettable read!

 

Book 781 Don DeLillo – White Noise

March 11, 2012

I just wrote a long and detailed review of this book and it got deleted! Since I’m too lazy to rewrite, I’ll summarise this book in one sentence :

Modern Life is Rubbish.

 

update two – Hurrah – thank goodness. I’m suscribed to my own blog!. Here it is :

 

Don Delillo’s White Noise was a book I absolutely hated when I first read it back in 2004 but now since I’m older (and cynical) I’ve come to appreciate my second reading of the novel.

As such you could say that this is DeLillo’s homage to modern life and how fearsome it can get. Sure all of DeLillo’s novels are about that but this is his most sarcastic.

Jack Gladney is the head of Hitler studies at university. He has survived four marriages and his current wife, Babette is constantly afraid of death and is taking pills to overcome it. Funnily enough all of Jack’s six or so children embrace the modern life they lead. Television , adverts, natural disasters (in fact the Airborne Toxic Event section of the book criticises the media very heavily) fast food and everything consumer related.

Is there a plot? not really but there is a small storyline which gives White Noise a bit of body. Jack finds out that his wife traded sexual favours for the pills that she takes and he sets out to kill the supplier. As such this ties in with the overlying theme of consumer America.

White Noise is not DeLillo’s best novel. Parts of it do drag a bit and he does hit the message home way too many times. But it definitely isn’t terrible. I see it as a precursor of what was to follow (namely the excellent Mao II and the dazzling Underworld) but it is a good read on the whole and worth checking out.

Book 782 Zhang Xianliang – Half of Man is Woman

March 1, 2012

 

Half of Man is Woman is considered a very controversial book in China as it focuses on the labour camps Zedong set up during the sixties and also the novel features some sex scenes – which was unheard of at the time.

The book is about the author, who is a wrongly accused political prisoner, and his experience as a rice cultivator and a shepherd during Chairman Mao’s reign. However instead of descending into a litany of tortures and hardships Xianliang takes a different aspect and that is maintaining a serious relationship with someone in a camp.

When Xianlaing first sets his eyes on Huang he immediately falls in love with her and after an eight year gap he marries her,  unfortunately the marriage does not work out due to the fact that he has been ingrained in the camp system for so long that nothing else seems to interest him, despite his wife’s efforts he does get a divorce.

Half of man is Woman is a political novel – but it goes on such a different tangent you’d mistake it for an overly dramatic love story, but through this catastrophic relationship Mao is clearly the one being criticised.

Personally I liked the book but I must admit the translation wasn’t too great and bothered me at times. Sayign that the content is so powerful that you do get sucked into the book. Anyway I haven’t read many Chinese authors so my second foray into their lit wasn’t a bad one at all.