Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

On Chesil Beach.jpgAnother grenade thrown into the current gender wars?  Another poke at sexual repression?  On Chesil Beach – the book – is not this. I see the book by Ian McEwan, and the new film, are being misused for these polemic purposes.  Pity, because here is something worthwhile and relevant, 55 years after it was set.

In placing the drama in 1962, McEwan is deliberate.  It is a direct reference to Phillip Larkin’s Annus Mirabilis, the year sexual intercourse “began”.  McEwan describes well the times.  I am old enough, just, to remember some of this, CND, Macmillan, colonies getting independence, etc.  Now, reviewers sneer at the effective evocations, “melon boat for starters? Ha ha.”  After year and years of rationing, that was exotic. Even using onions was not universal.

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Buried Giant.jpgKazuo Ishiguro’s “The Buried Giant”.  Does it stir?  Will the earth quake as it breaks surface?  If you are looking for a literary Godzilla, go elsewhere. Ishiguro’s tales is set in England, after the Romans have left and the first Saxons have arrived.  It also is a canvas for memory, loss and forgiveness to be explored.  Easy to read – it is not a light read.  And like the travellers in the book, the allegories can readily lead you into forests with little light.

(This seeks to be a spoiler free review.)  The tale starts with an older couple, Axl and Beatrice, becoming unsettled in their village life, and setting off to find their son who had left home years earlier.  It is very early on that the land feels under a mist that smothers memory.  Recollections of the past are in fragment only, if existing at all.  As time passes and encounters on the road occur, are shards of the past snatched back.  (more…)

9788483063279-us-300.jpgDemi-God for some, very-devil for others, Marx is a marked man.  So when a biography says he was fun – that’s worth looking at.

Francis Wheen’s account of Karl Marx (Fourth Estate) is hugely acclaimed.  And rightly so.  Karl’s famous image really gives the wrong sense of the man.  Francis says he ended up a bourgeois Victorian.  But she shows what a lively character he was.  Very sharp intellectually, man of thoughts and ideas, rather than cutlass and pistol.  Driven personality, hard arguer, verbal bully, intemperate, heavy smoker and drinker, devoted father and grandfather.  But – dry and dusty he was not.

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the ministry of utmost happiness.jpg

Arundhati Roy’s “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness”. A Good Read?  Like beauty being in the eye of the beholder – the simple answers are usually misleading.

I finished it and had mixed feelings. It had very good reviews and I really don’t know why. It is in effect a critique of India’s political classes, dangerous nationalisms, its cruelties to Muslims, Dalits, the Hijra, and Kashmir in particular. A story well worth telling, and I’m quite interested in that. It has been a tale told by others many times.  Indeed, there is a long tradition of English medium Indian writers dishing the dirt on Indian society (Rohinton Mistry, Arvind Ardiga, etc)

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