“Snuff” by Terry Pratchett
Not vintage Pratchett but not bad by any means. Involves smuggling and slavery.
“Abyssinian Chronicles”by Moses Isegawa [New Year’s Resolution]
I bought this because it got good reviews. It sat beside my bed for years. Picking it up and reading the back did not fill me with enthusiasm. It’s by a Ugandan who moved to the Netherlands. Funnily enough, this first novel is also about a Ugandan who moved to the Netherlands. And it was going to feature magical realism. I hate magical realism. Whenever I think of Ben Okri’s “The Famished Road”, I feel mildly ill. However, good news – there was no visible magical realism. In fact it zooms along with lots of plot and incident. Our hero spends about 100 pages in a catholic boys’ boarding school and though the time, context and many other things were different, I was very surprised how much the mood reminded me of the school in Paul Murray’s “Skippy Dies”. That book features a Dublin boarding school which is a very thinly veiled description of a school run by Holy Ghost fathers – a missionary order, I do wonder whether our hero also attended a Holy Ghost seminary and could that explain the atmosphere or are all boys’ boarding schools, in some ways, the same? It drags though. 460 pages is a good 200 too many. But, you know, it could have been a lot worse. Author is very keen on lush adjectival use which is tiring. But let those of us without sin etc.
“Des Histoirs Vraies” by Sophie Calle [New Year’s Resolution]
More art than literature. A series of pictures about her life taken by the artist and her commentary on them. Mildly disturbing.
“Dei Bambini Non Si Sa Niente” by Simona Vinci [New Year’s Resolution]
This got good reviews and I thought it would be good for my Italian. It is a good book and it was good for my Italian. Unfortunately, it is also a deeply unpleasant and disturbing book. Not recommended if you are at all sensitive.
“Ladysmith” by Giles Foden [New Year’s Resolution]
I read and disliked “The Last King of Scotland” by the same author. Why would I torture myself this way? I suppose I was curious about the Boer War. “The Last King of Scotland” is a very literary book about Idi Amin in Uganda. This is not literary. In fact, it’s pretty clichéd in many places. It begins with an eviction in the West of Ireland. It has a distinct whiff of shure and begorrah. The action then moves to South Africa where anyone who turned up at all at the Boer War puts in a cameo: Churchill, Gandhi, MacBride (one for Irish audiences) – you name them, they’re there. It’s alright, I suppose and, mercifully, a very easy read, but mostly underwhelming. And also, I still didn’t know who’d won the Boer War at the end.
“Death Bringer” by Derek Landy
The latest Skulduggery Pleasant offering and very acceptable, if you like teenage fantasy novels set in Dublin. Go on, you know you do.
I know I can click any of the links by the book titles, but I’m also going to ask: how many books were on your New Year’s Resolution list? It’s looking like you’re really getting through them here at the end of the year. So will you do another New Year’s book post in a couple of weeks and show us the state of your bedside table a year later? I’m assuming you’ve piled on new offerings as you’ve gone through the resolution books. . .but for some reason I’m imagining a satisfyingly clear bedside table, having accomplished your goal of getting through all of them. So how’s it going?
Bad news. I feel the book I got you for Christmas will end up on resolution list. Worthy but potentially dull (but also signed by author)
I think the people who write the blurbs on books often do the authors a huge disservice. Especially if they use the MR words. I resisted the Restraint of Beasts for years because it was described as ‘kafkaesque’ whereas if they’d said ‘this is the darkest, funniest book about fencing (ie. putting up fences) you will ever read’ then I’d have discovered it much sooner
Kara, you read my mind – I will indeed.
H, oh dear, but I thought I already had too many presents..
TM, yes, sometimes, particularly with literary tomes which one approaches with some caution in any event.