Thursday, September 24, 2009

Book Rundown

These are substantially easier to write than full reviews. Maybe someday I'll read something really excellent again and say something lengthier.

A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin - The first novel in A Song of Fire and Ice, this volume has the reputation for being the medievalist fantasy that destroys all cliches, revitalizes the genre, best since Tolkien, blah blah blah. Martin develops a very large cast of lords and ladies and sets them scheming for control of the Seven Kingdoms. It's brutally violent, sexually frank and doesn't so much blur the line between good and evil as obliterate it - individuals may be vicious or virtuous, but all political groupings are selfishly ambitious. The characters are fascinating, though their relations and titles are extremely confusing and those the prose is merely serviceable, there are passages of great wonder and moral fiber. Unfortunately, the novel ends just as the major powers have really been sent into play and so feels incomplete. The POV changes with every chapter, and many chapters end with cliff-hangers, so that one must often read several chapters further for resolution. This is a gimmicky way to pace the novel but incredibly effective, as I regularly read more in my sessions than planned. I've already reserved the second book in the series. Worthwhile

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris - The humorist's droll collection of personal essays is delightfully understated, self-depreciating but not apologetic, and absurd but not strange. Thanks to my sister for introducing me to Sedaris. Worthwhile

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini - It was popular, I was suspicious, the masses were vindicated. This is an engrossing story that encompasses many of literature's greatest themes: love, honor, betrayal, country, family, atonement. Themes and plot elements are familiar but not cliched. The novel becomes rather too self-consciously literary toward the end, creating heavy-handed parallels to earlier scenes, and its explanation of evil seems to be that sadism is for sadism's sake but it retains a devastating impact even in these last chapters. A rare contemporary novel that actually deserves its audience. Worthwhile

1 comment:

  1. I found Hosseini's follow-up, A Thousand Splendid Suns, to be an even better read than The Kite Runner. When you get a chance, give it a spin.