Archive of May 2010

Sat 29 May

On Holiday Reading

I think there really should be a post on my blog that discusses Holiday reading and books.  In fact there ought to be one whenever I take a holiday.  The last was probably for going to Wales, but this was only a weekend and Dylan Thomas remained untouched!

This time it is a week and it is in Northumbria.  Reading seems a more likely proposition.  My Ereader is loaded with "White Tiger" which is this months choice for the Brixton urban bookgroup.  And I have "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen"  on load from my library which is the choice of the reading group there this month.  I also have the unabridged audio book of the same work for the car journey, which I am almost certain we shall manage to fit in since the drive is over six hours long, from London to Northumbria.

That gives the context, and I shall be especially interested to compare my experience of the three media forms, audio, Ereader, and paper.  I shall either make additional posts or edit and expand this one to give an update, assuming I am online whilst on holiday.  Should I be offline the posts will appear on my return, in June!

Sat 15 May


I was very annoyed not to make it to the last reading group meeting at the library on Tuesday. our book for April had been "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy, about which there was quite a hoopla when a movie was brought out on the back of it.

There has been something of a zeitgeist lately for apocalyptic cinema, but this was different, this was a novel. What a novel it turned out to be too. It is not a weighty tome and when people had talked about the movie I had noticed they said "nothing much happens". Well I suppose one could say the same of the book's narrative, but that would be both to miss the point and to underestimate the lasting power this book and the writing in it had, at least for me.

A son is born at the moment mankind has unleashed the worst of all terrors, Armageddon in the shape of a nuclear holocaust. This becomes apparent around midway through the book, but all we are presented with is a father and a boy (we do not even realise they are related to start with) who are forced to survive in a world which is in all likelihood ending. They are travelling the road across America to follow the sun for survival.

I suspect many of my friends at the library will have found the subject matter and incidental images (like barbecued babies) a little hard to swallow (sic), but somehow when you are immersed it is possible to get past that.  Yes, at times it feels as though you are in some awful horror movie (only this time really scaring the pants of you!), but the part that is really frightening is not the dreadful images, rather the feeling this is all too real.  For some reason (God forbid) it seems quite feasible that if there were nothing to eat and no moral authority to prevent it one might find people forced to cultivate and eat other less fortunate people as food - hard to swallow in the context of a blog, but in the context of this text it briefly seems all too possible and that is SCARY!

There is a good deal of dialogue, but again not a lot is said, and yet the weight of the language is well measured. Only once did I notice Cormac using writerly prose and this was reserved for the closing paragraph if memory serves, when he talks of a trout with the world engraved in it's scales.  This was imagery that had cropped up personally for the lead character in the book earlier and I loved the resonance.  Although I would normally have found this paragraph far too over-reaching and obscure it was very fitting in the context it was deployed.

The Pulitzer prize has it's roots in journalism and this book has the feel to me of being written by a master of the craft of journalism - I cannot applaud too highly this novel and the way it does what it does so well - you may be horrified by the subject but the book remains a true work of outstanding literature that I think will stand the test of time.