Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Midway review of the year - part II

If there is a theme to the second half of the year then the phrase coined by J.G. Ballard seems best to sum it up as a period of reading strange realities. Ballard himself provided Millennium People but there were also contributions from Don De Lilo.

Falling Man was a brilliant response to the grief, anger and confusion of 9/11 and left you understanding the reactions of those touched by the events even if like them you were no closer to understanding the motives for the attack.

But then Cosmopolis is a great Ballardesque commentary on wealth in the digital age where millions can be spent at the flick of a button and as digits cross a ticker on a screen.

Although you had to tilt the head to get the best out of those books it didn’t involve the schoolboy engagement with the text that Golding, with his images, does. The Spire was a story of faith, deceit and human fragility with the building of the spire echoing the destruction of its visionary creator the dean of the cathedral Jocelin.

Back to the science fiction was Kurt Vonnegut with his ability to make you laugh out loud even as he writes about the world ending. Cat’s Cradle and then The Breakfast of Champions were great insights into the imagination of this writer but also provided views from an America frightened of its own power and wealth.

With the first six months under the belt the only downside is that compared to previous years the reading rate has dropped slightly. This is partly because of changes in the commute that have reduced reading time. But it is a slight cause for concern that will hopefully be addressed in the second half of the year.

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