Thursday, September 04, 2008

Summer Reading

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield is a book that I picked up off the shelf in What the Book because of the cover and then bought because of a couple of well-written sentences that I read while browsing. It starts with a quote from one of the main characters of the book, the author Vida Winter, in the fictional Tales of Change and Desperation:
"All children mythologize their birth. It is a universal trait. You want to know someone? Hear, mind and soul? Ask him to tell you about when he was born. What you get won't be the truth; it will be a story. And nothing is more telling than a story."
It's a book for booklovers, as most of my favourite quotes from the book were all about reading and writing. The author is dying and wants to tell her life story to an amateur bibliogrpaher.
There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so entralled you can not move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.
The bibliographer has her own story to tell, that of a twin sister who died at birth and the result that has had on her life and family. The Vida Winter story has at its core the story of twins too. I didn't at all see the ending coming, which I much prefer in a book. I don't read mysteries to figure it out myself, otherwise the book ends up boring me.

Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes - characters even - caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you.
This happens to me all the time. I often have the hardest time getting into a new book - particularly if there is a noted difference in style between it and my last book. I've been known to take a couple hundred pages to get into a book but end up loving it.
There are too many books to read in a single lifetime; you have to draw the line somewhere.

The quote from The Thirteenth Tale hits the nail on the head, and if you are looking to only read good books, you should definitely read Fatelessness by Imre Kertesz It's a novel with an odd tone, so detached. The main character is a boy whose name you never really know and you watch him try to make sense out of his world, as he slowly moves from normal life to life in a concentration camp. It was the detached tone that really moved me.
"I would have looked for water next, but unfortunately it turned out that there was none; hell, I fumed, don't say we'll have to go thirsty again after all this, just like on the train."

I also read Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami, mostly at lunch time during my last couple of weeks at Poly and also on the plane back to Canada. I must say, I didn't like it anywhere near as much as I like his novels, but the stories were still good. I like his ability to write about the mundane and the fantastic, all in the same story.
"A poet might die at twenty-one, a revolutionary or a rock star at twenty-four. But after that you assume everything's going to be alright. You've made it past Dead Man's Curve and you're out of the tunnel, cruising staright for your destination down a six-lane highway - whether that's what you want or not. You get your hair cut; every morning you shave. YUou aren't a poet any more, or a revolutionary or a rock star. You don't pass out drunk in phone booths or blast out the Doors at four in the morning. Instead, you buy life insurance from your friend's company, drink in hotel bars, and hold on to your dental bills for tax deductions. At twenty-eight, that's normal. ~ New York Mining Disaster
This collection of short stories mostly left me with a desire to read another of his novels.
I don't write novels and you don't import furniture. You know what I mean. In university I learned there were lots of realitities in the world. It's a huge world, there are lots of different values coexisting, and there's no need to always be the top student. And then I went out into the world. ~A Folklore for My Generation

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