Right, so here’s this month’s fiction reading, in no particular order.
The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga:
This book is a refreshingly original take on life in Modern India, told from the perspective of a servant working his way up the ranks, through a series of open letters to Wen Jiabao, the ‘Freedom-Loving’ Nation of China’s Premiere.
The narrator, Belram Halwai, talks us thorough his life and story, under the auspices of the reasoning that this would make an interesting case study for the Chineese Premiere to consider as an explanation for what creates Entrepreneurship.
His self-image and humour propel the story forward, and there is just enough flavour and detail on every page to have some sort of sketch as to what life in India for someone from a lower caste may be like. Not great, as you can imagine.
However, seeing as Belram, the ‘White Tiger’ is a self-proclaimed Servant, Philosopher, Entrepreneur & Murderer, we don’t have to feel too guilty as we read his story. He’s just calling it as he sees it, and it’s a darn good yarn. Recommended.
Slam, by Nick Hornby:
Slam was a book I found myself reading in about a day.
It was totally addictive. It is the story of Sam, a sixteen-year-old Skater, (not Skateboarder, duh) who finds that he has gotten his girlfriend of 3 weeks (who he has lost interest in) pregnant.
In lieu of his own absent father, ‘the worst Dad in the world’, he finds that he talks to his poster of Tony Hawk for advice throughout. And strangely, Tony talks back, albeit though a series of cheesy soundbites from his book, Hawk – Occupation: Skateboarder. Mostly with hilarious results.
The characterization and voice of a confounded teenager rings true from the first page to the last, and there is a lot of cringe-worthy stuff in there. This is my first Hornsby read, I’m embarrassed to report, and I’ll definitely be back for more. Fun stuff.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Steig Larsson:
This is the British Book Crime Thriller of the Year, 2009.
It does all of the things it is supposed to do, in the same vein as a Dan Brown whodonnit.
A journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, finds himself on trial for having published a libelous article on a Swedish Industrialist.
Suddenly, he is approached by a mysterious benefactor, a now-retired Tycoon, who wants to hire him to write the memoirs of his family, and in the process solve a mysterious family disappearance.
Much intrigue and cloak & dagger antics ensue, and gradually a massive conspiracy is uncovered.
The first of three installments with these characters, and it will probably make for fairly satisfactory films.
Reading for a sunny beach, really.
The Cleft, by Doris Lessing
Still not decided on this one, and have had to take a break from it really, as its not doing it for me.
Seeing as the Author won the Nobel Prize for Literature, I felt this should be given a go. It is a somewhat unwelcome wade, in my point of view, however. I must point out that I still haven’t finished it, and if there is massive redemption when I revisit it I’ll let you know.
Basically, the story is that of a Roman senator-turned historian, who is collating the notes of an alternative history of human creation, whereby women came first, and conceived alone, until slowly male ‘monsters’ began popping out.
The poetic realism doesn’t sit as well as that found in many South American author’s work, and there are too many logical objections as a result.
It comes across as a feminist retelling of the weaker sex story, with unlikely results. My girlfriend didn’t finish it either, so that can’t be all that’s wrong with it. May revisit.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard, by JK Rowling
Happily, I’m not a pot-head, or whatever it is that has made the world mad for everything Harry Potter. This is my first time reading Rowling, and it wasn’t too painful.
Again, my girlfriend is a more avid reader of fantasy, and she’s chewed them all up. She was indicating that this is a sort of companion series to some aspects of the Harry Potter franchise, but I’m happy to report that it is enjoyable in its own right as a collection of magic bedtime moral tales for children.
Having done the image search for the book cover, and seen how much mania surrounds the author, I don’t think one more voice is going to add much. In short, it is a satisfactory enough light read, if a little short, and its nice to know that proceeds from each sale will go towards The Children’s High Level Group, a charity Rowling co-founded.
Panic, by Jeff Abbott
Just started this one last night, so may have to revisit the review if something goes badly wrong.
As it stands, this is another whodonnit, whereby a documentary film-maker is called home urgently to find that his mother has been murdered, a hitman is waiting for him, and everything he thinks he knows about his life is a lie.
Reads well enough for now, typically enough each short chapter ends on a cliff-hanger, to get you to turn the page.
We all know how it’s going to end.
I’m suddenly reminded of my dad often leaving me watching the end of the midweek movie when I was growing up, when he had to be up for work.
‘I know what happens’ he’d say, ‘The hero gets the girl, kills the bad guy, and he leaves the world a safer place for Democracy…’
I used to always complain that this story was different, but now I’m not so sure…