Home > Book Reviews > Reading Round-up – 30/4/08

Reading Round-up – 30/4/08

I read a vast quantity of books during April, most of which have been reviewed here. There are a handful, however, that I haven’t reviewed properly. There are varying reasons for this.

The Road – Cormac McCarthy – there are about a thousand reviews of this already, so I didn’t feel the need to add another. This is one of the most gripping books I have read in years. I literally couldn’t stop reading until it was finished, even thought that meant staying up past midnight when I was already tired. If you haven’t heard of this, I suggest you do a google search.

The Day of the Locust – Nathaniel West – I hadn’t read a word of West, but I had heard of him. This is considered to be his masterpiece. It was published shortly before his early death in 1940. This book isn’t ‘dated’ – it’s a scathing, bitter attack on the culture of Hollywood, California. This is a slender tome, but well worth reading. West’s other famous novel is ‘Miss Lonelyhearts,’ which I will get around to reading sometime.

Sky Burial – Xinran – XInran is the author of “The Good Women of China,” which is about the lives of Chinese women in the eighties. This book is about one woman in particular who goes to Tibet in 1958 to look for her presumed dead husband. She doesn’t return to China for 30 years. Is this a novel or a memoir? As a novel, this is perfectly acceptable, if a little hard to believe. As a memoir, I found this impossible to believe. Its almost as if someone has spinned Xinran a tall tale and she’s swallowed it hook, line and sinker. Unfortunately, this book sheds very little light on the history of the conflict over Tibet that has raged since 1949.

The Chelsea Manifesto – Bruce Russell – Russell’s second novel is a curious amalgam of items – an aging hippy-come-crook called Ben Wallymacher, a geodesic dome in Bridgetown, the study of psychodrama (which I hadn’t heard of), and a trip to New York. I was extremely enthusiastic about Russell’s third novel, “Channelling Henry,” but I ration my enthusiasm here. This took a long time to really get going, and when it did, it went in unexpected directions. I didn’t dislike it necessarily, but I am confused. I will need to re-read this carefully before reviewing in detail.

Next on the agenda is Hal Spacejock: No Free Lunch, which is the latest in Simon Haynes’ series. Expect to see a review of Hal 4 on this site in the coming days. And then…I’ve run out of things to read! I’ve got plenty of books I’d like to read, but money is a problem. Sob.

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