Although I sometimes enjoy writing reviews, it’s not always that I find the time or the energy for it. That does not mean I’ve not been reading (and thinking)…
I’ve dropped the ambition to catch up with everything; but I thought I’d try a summary post with “mini” reviews from my reading over the last three months (August – October).
But of course, once I got started, I ended up writing more than I thought I would. So I’ve just decided to split the result into two posts. (As much for my readers’ sake as for my own!)
This post will be about some “contemporary” books.
In another I’ll be reporting from my reading of some classics.
(Illustration from Alice in Wonderland, by John Tenniel)
Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson (1997)
I first read this book in May this year, on Kindle. I liked the introduction chapter; but the deeper I got into the book, the more confused I felt by the time warps and retakes and multiple alternatives. Quite possibly it’s all really frightfully clever (I did recognize references to the Bible, and Shakespeare, and Jane Eyre, and Alice in Wonderland, and…) – but personally, I have to say I felt sort of cheated at the end.
Still puzzled, I decided to give it a second chance a few months later, when also finding it as audio book from the library – but even after a that, I still felt I did not know how to review or rate it.
I also listened to two more books by the same author: Life After Life and A God in Ruins (those two in Swedish), but have to admit I found those equally confusing. I suppose I sort of get the idea (like, can there ever be a “true” version of a fictional story?) – but I think I still prefer it when authors make up their mind!
(If you are going to read them, I think I would recommend that you read them in text rather than listen to them as audio books. At least if like me, you listen in bed, and tend to fall asleep while listening… With an ever-changing story, it is very hard to find one’s way back the next day to where it last made sense!)
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling (2016)
The Special Rehearsal Edition Script was released in book form at the same time as the play opened on stage in London. (I was able to buy it the next day in the local book shop in my town.) I’m sure that seeing it on stage must be spectacular; but for a play, I also actually found it surprisingly readable. (I’m not sure why I say surprisingly; as people have been reading Shakespeare for centuries…) The story picks up right at the end of the epilogue in the last book, with Harry Potter’s younger son, Albus Severus, as the main character. I think Rowling quite cleverly manages to tell a “new” story, while at the same time also linking it to the past. I liked it, and I think the play also bears a message in its own right: about how we relate to history, and family, and finding ourselves, and the delicate balance between learning from the past vs. making our own way into the future. (I can also see why she chose this format for it. As a book all the flashbacks would be too repetitious; and as film I think would also feel weird with different actors than we’ve become used to seeing.)
A month later, three collections of short stories from J.K. Rowling’s website Pottermore were also released for Kindle. I think all the individual stories can also be found for free on that website; but as I’ve not been following that, I did not mind paying a few dollars to get them neatly collected in the Kindle format.
- Short Stories from Hogwarts of
Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies
- Short Stories from Hogwarts of
Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists
- Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide
I enjoyed the extra background info about characters and objects and whatnots from the books. In short, JKR is one author who does like to stay in control of her creation. Even though she too plays around a lot with time and memories and alternative solutions, and even adds magic into the mix, she still sets limits for how far experiments can be taken – even in the Wizarding World!
Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett (2013)
(Audio narration by Tony Robinson).
This was the last book in Pratchett’s Discworld series to be published before the author’s death (2015). It features the introduction of railways and locomotives into the Discworld, and belongs in the subseries with the character Moist von Lipwig – who in a couple of previous books was also involved in sorting out the post office and banking system in Ankh-Morpork.
I have actually listened to all of the 40 Discworld novels as audio books – but never read any of them in print. It was my brother who first introduced me to the series, I think back around 2000/1 – and has kept feeding them to me… This last one, I bought/downloaded myself from Audible, though. (One more book has been published posthumously, but I’ve not read that one yet.)
There is a complete Discworld bibliography at Wikipedia; helpful if you want to read the books in order, or according to sub-series.