Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Little Varied Reading

I did a fair bit of reading yesterday. I finished KAFKA IN BRONTËLAND by Tamar Yellin, which is one of the best short story collections I've read for some time: each story was absorbing and had something to say. I also found it interesting to read so soon after reading Chekhov's. The style has changed. Whereas Chekhov provides an intense description of a phase in a life; the modern short story seems to be more encompassing and broad. Chekhov's is a little like a detailed portrait; whereas the modern style, exemplified by Yellin's, is painted with a broader brush. I thoroughly enjoyed both.

Then, after putting away the fiction, I turned to something that arrived on Saturday - A SENSE OF THE EARTH by David Leveson. It is a celebration of the study of geology; a very unusual and uplifting read. Leveson believes that a geologist should be in tune with the earth; he should be not just a scientist but have a spiritual connection too. 'What he does is a reflection of what he is, and it permits him to view the world through a unique prism.' In this book he aims to convey what it means to him to be a geologist. As well a revisiting a subject I have always loved I am learning a lot too. I am also appreciating the many photographs of a part of the US I have always wanted to visit: Ohio, Arizona and New Mexico - the remote south west.

Then, finally I was back onto the fiction: James Meek's WE ARE NOW BEGINNING OUR DESCENT. It's very exciting and the start describes the life of a war journalist, which is something James Meek knows very well. The idiosyncrasies of the journalists bunked up in an Afghan house make absorbing and entertaining reading but there's one thing I can't understand: why do I find descriptions of hole-in-the-wall toilets glamorous? But somehow I do!


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