Friday, June 11, 2010

The Satanic Verses.

By Simon.

I don't have anything good to say about this book except- 'I finally finished it'.
I tried to read this three times, getting no further than page 106 before I was finally successful on my fourth attempt.
I can't tell you much about it because, to be honest, I didn't understand any of it. It is mystical at times, literal at others. There are chapters where the pages turn easily, but there are many more where every single word is a struggle.
I give this book zero stars out of five.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Best (and worst) of 2009.

By Simon.

I read a few books in '09, not as many as I would like, but here's some of the best and worst, in my humble opinion.

My Colombian Death, Matthew Thompson. Middle aged and bored with it all, Thompson packs his bags and heads to Columbia to find something, anything, that will make him feel alive.
The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger. A rare genetic illness causes Henry to travel in time. He meets his future wife when she is just a child. A beautiful love story.
The Road, Cormac McCarthy. My standout, must read book of 2009. See review below.
The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom. A guy dies and meets five people in heaven who have had some part, small and large, in his life, who help in understand the point of it all.

Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte. Crap love story. Blah blah blah.
Breakout; How I escaped the Exclusive Bretheren, David Tchappat. Tchappat trades in on his quasi-fame from being in the Big Brother house and turns what should be an interesting insight into this 'sect' into a boring look at a boring young man's life.
The Slap, Christos Tsiolkas. See review below.
Angels and Demons, Dan Brown. I loved DaVinci Code, but this just missed the mark. Not as clever as the DaVinci Code, over the top, but cashing in on a similar formula.

So So (not the best, not the worst).
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follet.
On the Road, Jack Kerouac.
Letter to a Christian Nation, Sam Harris.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Slap; review.

By Simon.

The Slap isn't an official Kaiser Book Club book.

I’d picked up and put down Chistos Tsiolkos’ The Slap on many visits to the bookshop but always decided I had a long enough queue of potentially better books waiting for me on the bedside table. As it turned out, my wife read it so I ended up taking it off her bedside table and starting it. Aside from now having read a book that has been much talked about, I needn’t have bothered.

The Slap is set in suburban Melbourne; the premise being a brat is slapped at a BBQ by someone who isn’t the kid’s parents. The story and so-called aftermath is told from the point of view, in the third person, by eight of the characters who were at said BBQ blah blah blah.

The Slap trades on cliché after cliché, presents eight entirely unlikable characters (some are downright hateable), evokes little more than mild curiosity for how the main plotline will unfold, and leaves the reader trying to work out if Tsiolkas is a self hating ‘wog’ (his word) or is a reverse racist; the parents of the slapped child are the alcoholic father, Gary, and the mother, Rosie, pathetically and absurdly dependant on her child Hugo... these are among only a few ‘white’ Australians that really feature in the book. I say self-hating because every character we explore with any depth is some, or all, of the following things – racist, misogynistic, narcissistic, slutty, dumb, arrogant, unfaithful etc etc.

The Slap is overly and unnecessarily filled with sex and bad language which only served to make me like each character less and less. (Unnecessary unless hating the characters was the author’s point). On occasions the narrative goes off on tangents that are hackneyed, and felt only like boring looks at the life of immigrant (first, second and third generation) Melbourne, that had no real bearing on anything to do with the plot.

In saying all this, I’m glad I read it. If I hadn’t it would still be ahead of me, waiting. I’m undecided on if I will read another Tsiolkos book or not. Time will tell.

I give The Slap 2 stars based on the characters being well enough written for me to hate them.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Next up is...

The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie.
Okay, so I have a confession to make... this could be hard work. I have started this book three times and never got further than page 100. This is one one those books you've always heard about, so it just follows that it must be read before you die.
I'm not going to try and 'sell' it to you, if you want to read it, you will.
We will meet in early to mid January to talk about both The Satanic Verses and Slaughterhouse 5.
Good luck!

The Road.

By Simon

The Road was something I picked up in Borders last week for something to read over the weekend. I am reading Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follet, which is an 1100 page epic about 'ye olden days'. I felt I needed something quick and good to read just to excite the senses. I picked right!

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (All the Pretty Horses, No Country For Old Men) is a tale of the fight for survival in a post apocolyptic world by the Man and his son, the Boy. We don't find out what disaster brought the world to its knees because it isn't relevant to the story. By not discussing this, McCarthy cleverly ensures the reader fully engages in the Man and the Boy's struggles to survive, rather than getting bogged down in details about the end of the world, which are often clumsy and not believable. The setting is bleak and every page reiterates this. Reading this book I was so invested emotionally in the plight of the protagonists that I was distraught at the ongoing, relentless battle they had to survive.

The basic premise is that the Man and the Boy are trying to make their way south, to the coast, in hope to find some kind of better life, or even just survival. Marauding gangs trawl the road, seeking to rape, murder and steal to survive, and to quench some animalistic bloodlust. Every house, building and shop has been plundered for any food or items of use, the situation is hopeless. The Road tells a tale of the love between the Man and the Boy, as much as it does the survival aspect.

On the cover of this book was a sticker - "1 of 50 books you can't put down" and they aren't kidding. It's 300 very easy to read pages and you'll find you're turning them at break-neck speed. Short paragraphs, about 1/3 to 1/2 a page long are divided by a three line gap. You find yourself saying "just one more paragraph, just one more..." and before you know it you've read another 50 pages.

The Road has been made into a feature film which is expected to be released early 2010, so if you don't want to know who plays what part, avoid to much internet searchin if you are going to look for the book online.

I give The Road 4.5 stars.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Next book.

Suggestions for the next book club book are invited.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Top 100

Borders bookstore has just released a list of Top 100 favourite books, as voted by the public. I was hoping Slaughterhouse 5 was there, but sadly... no.