Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Few Good Reads

(Me writing this article)

Being a miserable bitter git is awful tiring work. I know everyone loves a good laugh, but honestly, if I have to write another story about Britney shitting on stage or Amy Winehouse sawing her husband's elbows off I'm going fuck my laptop out the window. I really do feel horrible inside writing about this bollocks sometimes. Rather than spend an evening trawling through grotesque peepshow that is fame, today I'm going to recommend a few good books I've picked up recently.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon

A rollicking good tale from the Author of Wonder Boys. Tells the story of Josef Kavalier, an aspiring magician and talented artist, who flees Nazi occupied Prauge and goes on to create one of the most enduring superheroes of the golden age of comics, The Escapist, with his cousin Sammy. The characterization in this novel is particularly strong with both Joe and Sammy being infuriating and lovable in equal measures. Full of wry humour and impeccable set pieces this has more heart than a four chested mountain goat.

The Road, Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy has long been one of my favourite writers. His epic novels about the unrelenting savagery of man are full of passages of such breathtaking beauty you almost want ingest the book. That would be unwise but probably not fatal. So go ahead, eat one. In the meantime, check out his latest novel set in the aftermath of a Nuclear Holocaust. It tales the tale of a dying man trying to protect his young son from gangs of marauding cannibals as they make their way across a burned America. Haunting and beautiful.

Jesus Son, Denis Johnson

This was made into a forgettable film which was actually co-scripted by the author himself. While the film was dull, the book on the other hand is a captivating read. Not so much a novel as a series of loosely interconnected stories as told by a staggeringly eloquent junkie. Full of passages of such poetic grace that I actually wrote one down and used it on a chick one night. I got a ride. Score!

The People's Act Of Love, James Meek

Wow! This was my find of the year. Wouldn't want to give to much away by revealing the story (and what a story!) but let me just say I have not been gripped by a novel like this in a long time. Without saying too much I can tell you that it involves a mysterious stranger arriving in a small Siberian town during the Russian Civil War of 1919 with astonishing and terrifying consequences. A minor masterpiece.

Everything Is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer

I wasn't as blown away by this as some people were. I found the passages relating to the Author's grandmother slightly boring and the whole thing gets a bit sickly sweet at times. Perhaps the hype surrounding the book put me off somewhat but I finished saying, "so what?" Having said that the character of Alex, the word mangling interpreter, makes it worth buying alone. Hilarious in places but deathly dull in others.

Drop City, T.C. Boyle

Many consider this to be the prolific American author's masterpiece. Set at the tail end of the 60's when the dream was beginning to turn sour Boyle brilliantly weaves the tale of a burnt out hippy commune that ups sticks and heads for the wilds of Alaska. As life falls apart during the harsh winter months tempers flare and strange friendships are borne. Boyle is a fantastically descriptive writer and spins a brilliantly atmospheric tale. Sort of like a Robert Altman movie if it was a T.C. Boyle book.

Phew! That was pretty cathartic. I feel like a new man cleansed of all my hate. Having said that I'm sure my next post will probably be some sordid tale about Kerry Katona eating one of her babies. In the meantime I hope you enjoy my recommendations.


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