Friday, December 31, 2010
The Month in Books : December
The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro (1996) - This was my sole November read, and I'm thankful it was a good one. Ishiguro's dizzying, gem-like novel follows a renowned musician who tries to ready himself for an important concert, but continually gets sidetracked by exasperating tasks and obligations. Reading it was a disorienting experience. I found myself utterly drawn into to each situation presented, much like the protagonist, but then would become frustrated with the seeming lack of direction. It was unlike anything I have ever read before, and was often so intense it affected my dreams! All in all, it was a thoroughly fascinating experience.
The English Passengers: A Novel by Matthew Kneale (2001) - Kneale's excellently detailed historical fiction oscillates between farce and factual tragedy, which is always a delicate endeavor. Told from a variety of perspectives, The English Passengers presents several intersecting story lines: a crew of smugglers determined to hold on to their haul and their ship, three men who charter it for Tasmania in search of the Garden of Eden, and the thoroughly cruel colonization of Tasmania seen through the eyes of a man named Peevay, a half-aborigine abandoned by his mother. I was ignorant of this specific era in Australia's history (other than my general knowledge of the brutality of colonialism), but Kneale's work has made me much wiser and, without a doubt, much sadder.
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (2002) - Waters' The Little Stranger had a profound affect on me when I read it this past summer, so I expected a similar atmosphere of gloom and spookiness with Fingersmith. Well, gloom there was aplenty, as well as sexual tension, Victorian repression, and some very slick turns. Unlike The Little Stranger, this novel was good and soapy, which made it wonderfully escapist. I am very much looking forward to reading more of Waters' work and fully reveling in it.
Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy by Jostein Gaarder (2007) - My reaction to Gaarder's novel is decidedly mixed. The portions on philosophy were well-rendered enough, but it is naturally not without bias (so little to say on Nietzsche!) and there could have been more discussion between the teacher and the student. Interestingly though, it was the actual narrative that was the least compelling aspect for me; the so-called mystery fell decidedly flat and the structure became repetitive. Throughout my reading, I kept hoping the characters would just move on and go back to talking about philosophy.
at 9:37 AM