I’ve realised the blog has become a bit DNF heavy over the last few weeks – which is a reflection of at least one of the following:
– I’m becoming less patient
– I’m less captivated by reading and want to do other things
– the books I’m reading are terrible
– I’m trying to clear some books off the shelves and am not giving them a fair shot because I just want to be rid of them
– I’m reading too many review books in a row and not enough books that I want to read.
In any case, a quick roundup:
The Slaughteryard – Esteban Echeverria – 5/10 (DNF)
Key short story by Echeverria, political activist in 1830s Argentina, in a new and very complete edition by The Friday Project containing a long and helpful-for-context foreword by translator which set the historical context (without which I would have been lost), text, glossary, original text with note, further poetry by Echeverria, and translation of foreword to original posthumous edition.
The story is barely 30 pages long, and there is no doubt about its gore and grisliness. The political satire/parody is very extreme – portrays bleak and bloody events and then says they show the glory of the regime. 5/10 awarded because I find it very difficult to award any sort of mark – so short and bizarre.
Additional information: copy courtesy of publisher via Twitter with no expectation of review; Friday Project, 170 pages, order from Amazon here.
Over the Rainbow – Paul Pickering – 2/10 (DNF)
Bizarre story set in Afghanistan now (i.e with war and chaos); Malone and his wife are young aid workers. Malone meets and is captivated by Fatima, Oxford-educated daughter of the former head of Pakistan intelligence services. When she films a cover of Somewhere Over the Rainbow and it is leaked, she and Malone have to go on the run – and what’s Kim up to in Kandahar.
This felt like it was written on an acid trip. On the one hand, the portrayal of aid worker life in Afghanistan is interesting, gritty, bleak but appears well researched; on the other hand, filming a cover of Somewhere Over the Rainbow in downtown bombed-out Kabul? Everything in which Fatima was involved was incredible. The whirlwind romance between Malone and Kim and the fundamentalist religious aspect of their marriage didn’t really make a lot of sense either.
Additional information: unsolicited review copy; Simon & Schuster, 303 pages, order from Amazon here.
Shogun – James Clavell – 4/10 (DNF)
Old-timey shipping adventurers end up in Japan (which is where they were aiming) after storms and shipwreck etc. So they land very much on the wrong foot. That is all that has happened in the first 110 pages (out of 1200).
This was borderline as to whether I continued or not, but another 1100 pages of every pirate on the crew saying his bit in what was a fairly straightforward argument, and random and unnecessary violence, was too much.
If you like shipping adventures and new lands and don’t mind ridiculously convoluted conversations, go for it.