"The Secret History"
by Donna Tartt
an awful lot to say about this book and I just know that I'm not going
to get round all of it. Try a murder mystery set in a New England college
campus; a nerdy but elitist group of students studying ancient Greek and
their mentor; try the resurrection of mythological beings, a bacchanal
which in its frenzy reaches a climax with the slaughter of an innocent.
Guilt is a major theme here. Actually guilt and its antithesis, the ability
to act with no guilt, to play at being God - are ya listenin' Bono? -
just kidding. This is a massive bestseller. Popular I think, because it
works like a traditional murder novel, but have none of the clichés.
Quite highbrow really. One for the thinkers.
"Star of the Sea"
by Joseph Connor
yourself, for this is a devastating experience and of course, all the
better for being so. The Ancient Greeks were the ones who gave us the
concept of and indeed the word still used today, for a feeling of psychological
clarity, one feels immediately after a period of prolonged and extreme
emotional activity that is catharsis. The Ancient Greeks were referring
to the mentally washed sensation, which their best Tragedies were able
to inspire in the audiences who saw them. "Star of the Sea"
has the effect. In this compassionate story, Connor has achieved a brilliant
study of the third Irish potato famine and the subsequent period of immigration
to the North American continent, by a people desperate to flee the horror
of starvation and certain death that would be their fate if they stayed
in that blighted country. Late in 1847 the Star of the Sea sets sail from
Liverpool for New York. On board as well as the ship's crew are four hundred
refugees in steerage class and in first class a mixed bunch of more fortunate
people, among them a journalist, members of the aristocracy and their
staff. There is a "monster" stalking the deck at night and he
is intent on murder. Other characters' lives on board are linked together
by a tangle of histories and relationships, known and unknown. It is almost
as though sacrifice upon sacrifice must be made, in order for the passengers
to be able to reach their promised land. And the ghastly demand, of blood
spilled in the old country, to be satisfied with more blood shed, stretches
across the vast ocean to grasp at the tiny lives clinging on to this decrepit
vessel. But it is the personal stories, which tell in human terms the
sheer scale of this disaster that strike the deepest chords of pain and
suffering. Lost souls, broken families, public responsibility losing out
to greed; love turning into guilt; helplessness turning into bitter vengeful
rage. And with these layers of sadness, love, fear, blame and hatred the
tension of this story mounts to a terrific climax.
by Robert Harris
came out last summer, I remember that we were coming in to play our little
run of Cali shows at the time. I started reading "Pompeii" on
the plane from Tokyo. By the time the plane landed at LAX I'd read half
of the book and was totally hooked, I finished it the following day by
my hotel pool, the intense heat of the afternoon, really adding something
to the experience. It was one of the best books I read last year, certainly
the most riveting. And that's actually quite a surprise really, because
here you have a story which takes place over the four days of the great
eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79 - a pretty well documented event, which
most of us learned about at school. It doesn't seem on the face of it
to be the formula of a captivating novel. But I'm playing with you really.
You see, Robert Harris, in case you are not familiar with his previous
works, is able to work a special magic with historical events. He researches
his subject matter to an almost obsessive degree. And more importantly
he tells the story though characters, which are identifiable and real
to us with emotion and sensation, and as a reader you get the rare opportunity
to imagine yourself inside someone else's skin to see through their eyes,
feel what they feel and smell what they smell. Harris is on record as
saying that while in modern day Pompeii, doing the research for this novel,
it was when he recognized the smell of water on warm stone that he knew
he could make the protagonist "Atillius" come to life. I'm not
going to tell the story for you, that's really up to you to find out,
believe me it'll be worth it.
IS CURRENTLY READING:
been blogging recently; not posting blogs but reading them, the verb is
the same for doing both, isn't it? Well it should be, coz the reader is
just as important as the one who is posting the blogs, right? I reckon
my favourite is ...sorry: Belle-de-Jour. Of course I have the underlying
suspicion that it's Martin Amis, in drag - so to speak; wow, that really
would ruin it. No, I like the blog because it's funny, and resilient and
actually: brave. And of course, I just love sexy Jewish girlz. Are ya
also rather like poetry blog; there's a lot of cheese there, but some
stunning poems too: check out 'linkage"
are the things that get me through long studio days when I've dried of
ideas - like tears.
if you do like poetry, this