Book review x 2

Posted by Bel. The time is 4:15pm here in Wellington, NZ.

I'm doubling this one up because they were both quite little books and I banged through them and am already onto a third.

Getting these books out was quite an excitement because they both came up as being 'stack' on the library computer. (Haha I accidentally typed 'stank'.) So I had to go and ask the librarian to get them for me and imagined that they were being fetched from some Hogwarts-like room of towering dusty shelves and a cool ladder than goes along on wheels and other such things which nerds like me fantasise about.

In reality, it meant that one of the book had pages so worn-out and soft I had to be careful turning them for fear they would rip in my fingers and the other wouldn't open right up properly, so I had to kind of guess what word was at the end of each line on the left-hand page, and at the start of each line on the right-hand page. Which, as you can imagine, was hugely annoying. So, stack is stank.

Of the two books, Rebecca West's "The Harsh Voice" is my nomination for Purchase of Shiny New Copy for Library Public Shelves.

Myself reading a book, with books in background. (Books. I love em.)

This was a collection of four novellas, an unusual length - but I liked it as it was long enough to properly get something going, but the restrictions meant that there was real craft to the narrative too. If I had to guess, I'd say that ever-true parable "the love of money is the root of all evil" is the linking theme between each of the tales. This helped them to seem fresh despite the decades which have passed since their writing, due to today's fraught economic climate.

There was some stunningly beautiful writing - I was surprised by descriptions that leapt off the page, such as comparing a young woman's good looks to that of sweet canned fruit, dripping with syrup. Okay, I'm botching it here, but in the book, it totally worked and was brilliant to read. I love when tactile senses are summoned by an author, as well as the visual, and West did this wonderfully.

Grace Paley's "The Little Disturbances of Man" was a short story collection even more strongly thematically linked. Men and women, the relationships that tie them together and the aching distances which continue to keep them apart was the common ground again and again.

I will admit to skipping a couple of the stories, as I found the somewhat repetitous nature of it a little draining. You can only read so much about couples letting each other down, about being in an affair at cross-purposes, about someone being determined to leave for their own benefit, but then deciding to stay anyway. Personally I found taking stupid photos of myself far more entertaining, but that is probably because I am a doofus.

This is me reading a not freaky bit.

This is me reading a freaky bit!!

"The Harsh Voice" by Rebecca West,published 1935 UK.
Recommended (if you can get a good copy). #32 on 'The List'.

"The Little Disturbances of Man" by Grace Paley, published 1959 USA.
Not recommended. #33 on 'The List'.

One thought on “Book review x 2”

  1. Oooh perhaps I could double-up by taking a photo of myself with my new haircut reading a book I just read and thus cover two subjects in one go?

    Oh and um, the books sounded fine. (Okay okay the photos mainly stole my attention.)