Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I've been so wrapped up in chronicling the life and times of Jordy that I realise it's been far too long since I did a post on books!

Anyway, here goes. In between honing my skills as the Vaudeville act that is Jordy's mom, and resident cook and organiser of all-things-Christmas, I have actually managed to read a bit. Nope, I'm still in the middle of Great Expectations, but have actually finished a few lighter things.

I was rather disappointed with Linda Grant's 2008 Man Booker shortlisted The Clothes on their Backs. I've been eyeing this book for a long time mainly cos I loved the cover, but in the end, the promise was greater than what was delivered.

The simple storyline was promising: a young girl of Hungarian Jewish (refugee) stock grows up in the tumultous '70s in London. How her quiet life is turned on its head with the discovery of a notorious uncle - what are his secrets? why the discord between her parents and the glamorous Uncle Sandor? how did he get the scars on his back, etc etc.

However, I felt the novel couldn't quite decide what it wanted to be. Was it an insight into the horrors of life in the labour camps during the war in Hungary? Or a tale that centred around the growing pains and moral awakening of an opaque narrator? An extended metaphor for how one's clothes and identity are inextricably linked?

The novel jumped around between any of these strands rather jarringly. Is it me or is the quality of the Man Booker list slowly eroding? What we really need is a new Kasuo Ishiguro or a Peter Carey ala My Life as a Fake. Or something as original as The Life of Pi.

Anyway, I've also become horribly addicted to the cheesy vampire Twilight saga. Rather embarassing but even though the writing is so bad, the plot is so strangely compelling!!! Truly a guilty pleasure. I'm on to book three of the saga and while I'm in the middle of these books, think Great Expectations will just have to wait!

3 comments:

maree said...

Agree about The Booker Prize List Dora - try working thru the Orange List - much more accessible & Peter Carey has a new book out: My Ilegal Self - there I've managed it - a whole comment with out mentioning "you know who!"

Lauren said...

I think you're right as well, I read all of the 2007 shortlisted ones and thought the one which won was the worst.

Tane said...

Dora, have you read Animal's People, by Indra Sinha? I just finished it - both Lauren and I thought it was fantastic. Funny, moving and with a great narrator - a horny, foul-mouthed Indian boy crippled in a Bhopal-type disaster.