Archive | April, 2014

Van has finished reading…the Inheritors by William Golding

24 Apr

Quite simply, this is an astonishing book. I can see why he is known for Lord Of The Flies (it is a fantastic book!), but it’s a travesty that the Inheritors is not second on the list of titles that trip from the tongue – a tragedy that so often there is no second title to trip from the tongue. I’m weighing up whether I like The Inheritors more.
Like Lord Of The Flies, we feel our way into the story, clinging to points of reference to get a handle on what it is Golding is showing us. But unlike Lord of the Flies, it’s the characters we feel our way into, rather than the scene. And it’s a stroke of genius. Golding presents us with an astoundingly well-conceived impression of a burgeoning mental process – of logic, communication and understanding beginning to mesh. In doing so he endears these characters to us so that we’re there with them. We are with them in their myriad emotions, and in their struggle to understand that inner life. We may have more words with which to tackle it today, but I wonder whether we’re really any closer.
This story shows us the base of all our instincts, strips back every strategy we lay against our fear, our need, our desire, and presents us with a wholly plausible – and effortlessly engaging – origin story. Read it. You will not be disappointed.

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Van has finished reading…The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

1 Apr

There is permanence in stone. It’s what we choose to build our monuments with, our houses. It frames our landscape and is the firmness beneath our feet. It can even teach us about the past; reveal eras in its striations, show richness or paucity in the sedimentary layers, cosset for us a fossil record from millennia ago. But the rest is all circumspection.
Daisy’s life began in a town built on stone. There are facts about her trajectory, touchstones that are documented. They are the fossil record of her existence. But the life – the living and breathing and feeling flesh-and-bloodness of her – is so much harder to pin down. This is a life seen through the eyes of others. Even Daisy as her own narrator (narrating in third person, mostly) admits to us the wayward nature of her own truth. How much do we ever really know of a person? Somewhere between the bald statistics and the truth there’s an answer.
Complete with family tree and inserted photographs of the family members, The Stone Diaries skates a path along the border between fiction and biography. The lack of trajectory, other than the inevitable march of time, weaves a subtle magic so that at times you find yourself having to remember just how big a fiction this work is. It is sometimes touching, sometimes funny – especially when ‘unintentionally’, those uncomfortable moments where laughter is the safest route, often tragic. Undoubtedly, it is a joy to read.