New Reading Pile, Old Reading Pile
This is my new reading pile. Astute observers will notice that there are still some in there from my last reading pile and that they have been joined by yet more comrades from the Amazon.
However I can report that some books from the old reading pile have been read and I am going to write a very quick review of each one.
NEVER LET ME GO by Kazuo Ishiguro. An unusual book and one which I found quite unbelievable until I was about three quarters of the way through and I realised the point of the novel - whereupon I believed it was one of the most profound books I have ever read. I suppose I had a small epiphany - if such a thing is possible. It was about accepting the life you have and taking nothing for granted. I like the way I was forced to see things in a different way. Like all the other Ishiguro books I have read it was cool, measured, and slightly aloof - and all the better for that. Now I want everyone I know to read it too.
AUSTERLITZ by WG Sebald. This I found mesmerising. The prose with the interspersed pictures seemed to grip me immediately by the hand and lead me through the pages like a child with her mouth wide open in a gormless and rather unattractive manner. The book seemed to speak uniquely to me - part of the reason for this may have been because rather strangely I read the parts set in Wales in Wales and the parts set in London as I was travelling to London. It was as if we were following each other around. At the end of the book I felt I had learnt something important although I didn't know exactly what. I just feel it is there, though, lodged somewhere in the old grey matter, biding its time, just waiting for the right moment to reveal itself.
WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte. Now I know I should remember whether or not I read this when young but I'm afraid that I don't. When I read it recently the text felt familiar - but I wasn't sure if that was because WUTHERING HEIGHTS seems to have entered our collective consciousness (through film and Kate Bush)or whether I really had read it long ago. It seems to affect other adolescents quite profoundly and in the discussion we had about the book in France it seems to have been the one book several people remembered from that time in their lives. Of course this book has been reviewed to death and perhaps all I need to add is that I enjoyed the story and found the structure unusual and interesting.
PATCHWORK PLANET by Anne Tyler. I found this quite a light and highly enjoyable read - some of the parts made me laugh out loud. The main character was very appealing - flawed but likeable at the same time. Towards the end I thought the book gradually changed timbre and became much deeper, with the evocation of old age particularly powerful and well done. I liked this section the best. Like all excellent comedy it juxtaposed tragedy and humour and the result was very affecting and sad. A really good book which I highly recommend - but then I highy recommend all of them.
Finally, the FIRE EATERS by David Almond. This was set against the Cuban Crisis of 1962 - which since I was only 2 or 3 at the time I do not remember. I had not realised that things had been quite so terrifying and David Almond portrays a society which believes that the world they know is about to change forever. The tone is foreboding throughout, gradually building to a climax towards the end; but this sense of dread is softened by the extrememly well-drawn characters which are warm and believable. The setting is unusual - the Northumberland coast of the UK, which in 1962 seems to have been a bit of a backwater. One of the families makes a living by filtering coal dust from the sea and the beach with its seam of coal and dunes makes an evocative setting. It is a book for young adults and I found it as moving as anything else I'd read.
So that is it. There are other books I've read but they didn't appeal to me as much for one reason or another - so I'm ignoring those.
P.S. This post was brought to you via FIREFOX since Safari kept quitting on me even after I'd re-installed it.