Home > Book Reviews > Books Read – Books to Read – 3/5/09

Books Read – Books to Read – 3/5/09

Okay, so I haven’t been writing a lot of reviews (or any) in the past couple of months. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, and mainly, this is because my actual reading has been on hiatus. This happens once in a while, and it’s been happening. Secondly, I’ve been distracted by my own impending novel launch. I did manage to read two novels by J. M. Coetzee in the past little while though, but I couldn’t really be bothered reviewing them. Mini reviews to follow:

Youth by J. M. Coetzee

This is actually something of a memoir and not very novellistic. I felt that the book lacked any kind of narrative shape, and thus was unsatisfying in its conclusion. Despite this, I could see that Coetzee was a very talented writing with an appealing, minimalist style. Some of the description of life in Britain in the sixties was interesting, and very much in contrast to the stereotype of the ‘Swinging Sixties,’ which Coetzee appears to have missed out on on the grounds of demeanour, if nothing else.

Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee

This novel won the Booker prize in 1999 and it is widely regarded as Coetzee’s most famous novel. The book is about a university professor who sleeps with one of his students and is subsequently stripped of his post (partly due to his own bullish comments). He goes to live with his daughter in rural South Africa, where they are subjected to a fairly horrific attack at the hands of some local men. The professor gets more and more depressed, and ends the novel in a state where a J. G. Ballard novel would usually start (i.e. in a state of decay). Recommended, but I don’t really know what’s so great about this that it deserved a major prize. Hey, I didn’t read the other entries.

So now I have three books on the to-do list, two of which I’ve actually started. The first is Coetzee’s first ‘novel’ (actually two novellas): Dusklands. This is obscure, Ballardian (in that it concerns the Vietnam War, sex, and general oddity) and just quite strange. I’ve actually put it down for the moment. The second slender tome is a book of plays by a Singaporean (although born in China) playwright by the name of Kuo Pao Kun: The Coffin is Too Big For The Hole and other plays. I tend to read anything I can get my hands on by Chinese writers, but I’m not sure if this is really going to do it for me. The third volume, which I picked up today, is a memoir of sorts by a Chinese writer by the name of Da Chen: Sounds of the River. Fascinated as I am by Chinese history and culture, I love reading any kind of memoir by Chinese writers. Apparently this is the second in a series of memoirs, but I haven’t read (or even heard of) the first volume.

So, if I’m good, Guy Salvidge’s reading blog may be resuming normal transmission in the coming weeks.

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