Sunday, June 12, 2011

Five Books

And yes, that is precisely what this is about. Five books.

Begin your week with

The Elegance of the Hedgehog; Muriel Barbery

“Apparently, now and again adults take the time to sit down and contemplate what a disaster their life is. They complain without understanding and, like flies constantly banging against the same old windowpane, they buzz around, suffer, waste away, get depressed then wonder how they got caught up in this spiral that is taking them where they don’t want to go. The most intelligent among then turn their malaise into a religion: oh, the despicable vacuousness of bourgeois existence!”

And here's a review in the Guardian. Perhaps, after this, you can move onto:

Netherland, Joseph O'Neill

“Now that I, too, have left that city, I find it hard to rid myself of the feeling that life carries a taint of aftermath. This last-mentioned work, somebody once told me, refers literally to a second mowing of grass in the same season. You might say, if you’re the type prone to general observations, that New York City insists on memory’s repetitive mower – on the sort of purposeful postmortem that has the effect, so one is told and forlornly hopes, of cutting the grassy past to manageable proportions.”

Then just for fun, try:

The Big Sleep; Raymond Chandler

"When a dying millionaire hires Philip Marlowe to handle the blackmailer of one of his two troublesome daughters, Marlowe finds himself involved with more than extortion. Kidnapping, pornography, seduction, and murder are just a few of the complications he gets caught up in."

Prepare now for a magnum opus; a 700 and some long behemoth:

A Fraction of the Whole; Steve Toltz

"Meet the Deans: 'The fact is, the whole of Australia despises my father more than any other man, just as they adore my uncle more than any other man. I might as well set the story straight about both of them.' Heroes or criminals? Crackpots or visionaries? Relatives or enemies? It's a simple family story... From the New South Wales bush to bohemian Paris, from sports fields to strip clubs, from the jungles of Thailand to a leaky boat in the Pacific, 'A Fraction of the Whole' follows the Deans on their freewheeling, scathingly funny and finally deepy moving quest to leave their mark on the world. "

Also, go see what the Guardian has to say..

Last but certainly not anywhere close to the least,gently ease your way into:

The Hakawati; Rabih Alameddine

“I felt foreign to myself. Doubt, that blind mole, burrowed down my spine. I leaned back on the car, surveyed the neighborhood, felt the blood throb in the veins of my arms. I could hear a soft gurgling, but was unsure whether it came from a fountain or a broken water pipe. There was once, a long time ago, a filigreed marble fountain in the building’s lobby, but it had ceased to exists. Poof.
I was a tourist in a bizarre land. I was home.”

And if you don't want the New York Times to have the last word, go read some of these and tell me what you think.