Archives for posts with tag: books

I keep trying to pick up books that, to me, count as more than filling time. I don’t get much free time, and there are way too many books I want to read. So, I always try to sort the wheat from the chaff, which is usually okay. However, the same trend sets in every time I am busily immersed in thinking and writing. I end up reading simple straight forward, and in the end not much interest, fiction.  It’s usually okay because there are many many books that fit this profile and are perfectly brilliant. Yet the last few days have seen me turning the pages of David Devereux’s Hunter’s Moon, and I don’t know why I continue to do so. I think it’s to do with not finishing books. I do my best to give books the benefit of the doubt by finishing them. Also, this means I get to know what happened, even if it’s dire, and I have a complete experience. I also have great respect for anyone who has work published, it’s still an achievement worth acknowledging.

The problem with Hunter’s Moon is that it is not entertaining for me, and the talk of magic and magicians etc are only talk. We here and see very little actual magic in any in depth way. We get more indepth descriptions of brain-washing and an actual example of a character going through the processes described. Both of which are key to our understanding of what is happening and the behaviour of one of the characters. Yet, in the end it relegates the magic, and makes it feel tacked on. This ends up being a novel that can function perfectly well without magic being an actual ‘real’ thing in the book. Yes it’s about cultists and the S&M sex scene, the two things modern pop-cultural magic is connected to. But it fees flat and ineffectual.

The problem is that the characters also feel ineffectual. I don’t mean they don’t do anything, I mean they do not move me, or make me feel anything for them. I don’t even feel they are real, and it feels like they couldn’t possibly be living in the same casual domain as us, which renders the attempt at making this happen in the ‘real’ world, farcical.

It is frustrating that I could go on and on. I could continue to expose the problems I have with the book, which I am am not going to do. I don’t like the book, but I am sure others do, and this post isn’t meant as a review. Instead, this post is meant to remind me, by pouring out the words, and making them public, why I need to control and think about my reading more, and work out what it is that I want from my reading and why.

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répétition 2

I find it difficult to read books more than once. I find I want new books, new ideas. The books I love most I am unable to read again due to the memories conjured by the original reading.

Am in the process of reading Hal Duncan’s bombastic ramblings about his recent travels to see his play performed in Chicago.

Reading these posts reminds me that if you have any interest in fantasy, sci-fi, classical mythology (from __ to Ancient Grece and Rome, gay, ‘literary’, or even the state-of-the-art of Scottish, fiction, you HAVE to read VELLUM and INK. They are a two part mind-bending epic or amzingness. I found VELLUM by, as it turns out lucky, randomness, and bought it on the strength of the cover design and inside cover gobbit*

Vellum.jpg

Yet, i still find myself returning to Heraclitus translated into Scots, which is perhaps my favourite piece by Duncan. Observe:

I
It wid be wise tae listen
No ti me but tae ma Word’s division,
Showing each accordin tae its kind,
Things us they ur. Maist pay no mind
Tae who they find things us they ur;
They make nae sense u thur sensations,
Simply follyin their ain beliefs.
It isnae right tae act and speak like men asleep.
E’en the posset – curdled milk wi beer or
Wine an spice – ull separate unstirred.
It wid be wise tae listen,
No ti me but tae ma Word. “

Go read the Rest

*Usually called the blurb

The Nightly News by Jonathan Hickman

Being British I have grown up exposed a great deal to multiculturalism, where I am from in sub-urban London that is mainly in the form of an Asian community. I have been fortunate to have friends who were born in Britain to Indian parents, and also to have known students from India who have come to Britain to study. I have also been able to watch and enjoy a great amount of Bollywood films. I indicate all of this at the start because it is important to my understanding of the writings of R. K. Narayan (I will skip a brief biography as it is easy to find in the link for those interested) who is an Indian author who writes in English, and has added a great many new chapters to my understanding of India and its people, history and culture.

It is fair to say that the stories I have heard previously had always been told for some sort of reason, and often the sotry would be something I could not essentially grasp. I would understand what it had to do with the person/people telling it but not how it fit into the jigsaws that make up my thoughts. This was often true with Bollywood films which are unashamedly made for middle class India, and this has asmuch to do with my financial/social standing as it does my understanding of Indian culture and society.

Therefore, reading Narayan’s books was eye opening, his prose exposed me to an India I had only previously seen in glimpses or phrases, and with Narayan came full novels and a set of short stories. All dealing with an India which feels much more accesible to the casual reader. It cannot hurt that the texts are written in English forgoeing any problems of translation. Narayan’s India stretches from the rich to the poor and untouchables. In several cases it deals with the future and tradtion of India. ‘The vendor of sweets’ is just such an example in which the owner of a local sweet store (in the Indian sense of sweets) sends his son to America as that is what the son wishes. upon the son’s return he desses and talks like and American and even brings a wife who is not Indian. Through the father and son we see two generations ‘butting heads’ not because they do not like one another but because they do not and can not understand one another.

Perhaps though what is most accessible is the feeling of timlessness to these stories. I am sure that if I was better acquainted with india I would be able to discern a time period for the stories. This however is not necessary, as the stories are not historical chronicle they are instead commentary on the life people live, in this case Indians, and how this can bring about conflict and humour, while at the same time trying to discuss meaning and importance in life, which can not help but cross over into the readers own thoughts, even if they are not Indian. I hesitate here to say that they are ‘universal’ stories and narratives. That is not the case, but neither is it the case that they are inpenetrable if you are not Indian.