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Monday, April 25, 2016

Ancient Light by John Banville

Ancient Light is a love story about an affair between a teenage boy and his best friend's mother.

It's written 50 years after the event from the perspective of an old man looking back on his past. The style of the book, as well as elements of the story, very much remind me of The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro , which in turn I thought borrowed on Coming Up For Air by George Orwell. All three are written by oldish men looking back on their past.

Ancient Light flips between the past and the present, when then teenage boy has become an old, failed actor, whose daughter killed herself ten years ago, and is sort of drifting aimlessly towards the end of his career. I found it difficult to maintain an interest in the "present day" part of the story, I must confess. I thought the other two writers I mentioned did that part better. The point and purpose of this part of the narrative rather escaped me I am afraid.

Next up is a book, If I Fall, I Die, which looks rather ambitious and difficult to read, but I will give it a go!

The opening sentence sprung out at me because it does not make sense. I like a challenge so let's see where this takes me!

Friday, April 22, 2016

This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash

My third attempt to read a book from Bookcase 60, This Dark Road to Mercy, proved to be successful.

Mercy is not a conventional crime book. It's a story, written mainly from a child's point of view, about being kidnapped by her estranged father, who is a petty criminal on the run. There are several other perspectives too, a former police officer, trying to find the children and a hired killer trying to find the father. It's a bit of a jumble altogether, and all seems a bit pointless to me. A baseball title clincher is a sort of backset to the story, and all the characters drawl sentences starting with the words "you's all", but other than that everyone speaks normal English. The plot seems a bit vague, and the characters other than the elder child, Easter, and her father, all seem a bit contrived. The book just doesn't seem to go anywhere, I was waiting for the plot to really open up, but it never did. It gets just 4 out of 10.

Next up, I return back to A-Z fiction, to Bookcase 64, to resume my journey with no gaps left behind me. I start with a book by someone called John Banville, who I have not heard of before.

All I know about it is that is a love story about an affair between a teenage boy and his best friend's mother.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Book 62, Things Fall Apart, is a sad fable of the destruction of native customs in Nigeria by the "white man".

It's told from the point of view of a village elder, who is gradually broken by the onset of Christianity and colonialism. My problem with Things Fall Apart is it only really gets going in the last 50 pages; the author spends the majority of the book setting the scene, and then the ending feels rushed. I award Things Fall Apart 5 out of 10, but the last part is probably a 7/10.

Next up I return to Bookcase 60 for my fourth attempt on it to read a crime book! I think this is the worst failure rate yet.

I have studiosly avoided anything with the work homicide anywhere on the covers, but I've still tossed aside three books after a few pages. This Dark Road to Mercy is an American book, but it's about children who become orphans, not the cliche-ridden forumla fiction which litters the crime shelves, I hope

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Three Tales by Gustave Flaubert

Book 62, Three Tales, is three long short stories that are all tales of morality.

They all take on Christian themes or depictions of semi-fabulous figures such as John the Baptist. I am not a practising Christian. I don't mind books like The Alchemist which are about fulfilling your potential. All of these stories were about people realising the error of their ways. Quite frankly I found all the stories quite boring and I got nothing from the book at all. I won't be reading Flaubert again, and award Three Tales 2 out of 10!

Finally I move to the A-Z fiction which is the bedrock of any library. Every bookcase will contain authors I am familiar with but I am not allowed to read those as I have already read material by the same writers. First up is an African novel that caused quite a sensation when it was first published.

Things Fall Apart is published on the Penguin Classics label so I am hoping it's just that.