Monday, August 31, 2009

book review - Lights Out for the Territory - Iain Sinclair

Having read London Orbital you pick up Lights Out for the Territory feeling in some respects it is a dry run for that book. The key personnel with Iain Sinclair writer and marc Atkins photographer are the same but the story is earlier and the landscape different.

Where London orbital was clearly about the M25 this books focuses on a triangle starting up in Hackney and moving down and across through the East End before arriving at Greenwich and finally Charlton.

Sinclair describes the aim of the book as a walking diary of reactions to the graffiti and messages that locals have left on the walls and signs along the route. In a pyschogeoghraphical sense these words should be influenced by the environment around them.

You start expecting a series of semi offensive and profound messages being recorded but quickly Sinclair moves the focus away from just what can be seen on the streets to what has happened to them in the past. There is a particular focus on literary and cinematic references.

The book is full of names and locations that give it a dizzying sense of depth. It is almost headache inducing how many things he manages to cram in. Each event leads to another with connections spinning out of a location like bike spokes. If the point is to prove that under each flagstone there is a story worth telling in London that is well made.

The problem with it is that is feels dated. The Kray's burial service was a long time ago and the area around the dome has changed significantly in the last few years. It was also easy to lose track of the narrative as Sinclair pushed everything he knew at you. That resulted in it being a difficult read in places and a narrative that didn’t really have a conclusion.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

bookmark of the week

This is the first of a couple of bookmarks that were picked up on holiday in France. Most of the bookmarks on offer are of Brittany inspired images of lighthouses and the like. This however shows an illustration from the Little Prince that was next to till in a curio shop in Saint Cast le Guido/

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Red House - post II

having got used to the slightly 1930s style you are introduced to a writer clearly familiar enough with the detective story format to have a bit of fun with it. references to Sherlock Holmes make it clear that Milne knows what he is talking about.

But rather than use the Christie approach of a well known detective figure entering the scene Milne introduces a character that has been drifting round not quite sure what to do with his life.

Anthony Gillingham has an uncanny ability to remember details of things he has casually seen and an enquiring mind. as a result it is he, not the police, that starts to uncover the mystery behind the death of the red House owner's brother.

But can he work it out completely? Time will tell...

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Red House - post I

When i was kindly sent The Red house a thriller published by Vintage Classics penned by A.A. Milne the first reaction was surprise. Not having any knowledge that the author of Winnie the pooh had written a thriller it was at first a surprise.

But after an introduction by the author himself that explains part of the problem with having a public idendity linking you to one particularl type of writing he gets into a decent triller.

Starting with an upstairs and downstairs feel as the story of the unwelcome brother returning aftr an absence of 15 years you don't have to wait long for the sound of a shot, a locked door and a dead body on the other side.

Obviously this has a dated feel because it is set in a different era but in terms of engaging the reader Milne hooks you in pretty quickly and has a style where he makes asides to the reader sharing certain details about the importance of a character before ploughing on with the story.

more soon...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

In praise of J.G Ballard

Earlier this year sadly j.G Ballard past away provoking as you can imagine a slew of tributes in the national press. One of the more inventive ways to mark his passing came from the Guardian which published one of his final short stories and tributes.

it was through reading that final short story, about a trip to the leaning tower of Pisa, that i finally understood what Ballard was about. he was holding up a mirror to the man made world around us then bending reality slightly and writing about the consequences on society and individual human behaviours.

That led to reading the Millennium People, Drowned World, High Rise and soon to be more.

if there is a lesson from the experience it has to be that making a judgement on a writer based on a book you read many years ago, in this case Empire of the Sun, can be a real mistake. there is probably something to ponder as well around the idea of having to wait for someone to die before appreciating them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

book review - The Drowned World - JG Ballard

As you read this book you can almost feel the heat and are scared to look up at the sun as the destructive nature of solar power is described in a way that is almost prophetic.

Ballard sets the story in a world where the polar ice caps have melted and the oceans have risen and London is underwater with just the tops of the buildings visible and liveable.

In that environment a biological and military team are collecting samples before following the rest of the global population to the only cool place at the pole. But the power of the sun, the power of nature to regain a manmade environment and the primeval urge that some people experience makes it a battle to leave.

Add to that mental strain, with the dreams of a primeval world, the letargy caused by heat and it becomes a life of crablike scuttles in the heat from building to building, lagoon to lagoon.

At the heart of the story is a biologist Kerans who is not sure if he will leave. He escapes the moment when the military crew depart and is left with a fellow biologist Bodkin and a rather cold woman Beatrice Dahlo, who seems determined to cling to her apartment. Her selfishness is one of the potential responses that an individual could have to the situation.

Another is to take Bodkin’s path and be lost in a haze of sentimentality and longing for the drowned world that can still be glimpsed below the water but not recaptured.

At that point it feels like a very well written short story that could have ended with a question mark but Ballard introduces the bizarre and frightening character of Strangman who has the technology to drain parts of the city and return London to its pre drowned state. He is fighting the drowning world.

That throws up the biggest challenge to those unsure of where to go. The ghostly world of the past potentially could restore them but it makes the moment of choice even more inevitable. Either you fight nature or you abandon yourself to it.

That choice, set against a brilliantly described world or water, crocodiles and heat, is so well played out that even at the end you are not quite sure what Kerans will do. Having made that choice the reader is given a glimpse with the discovery of a character Hardman who previously made the escape towards the equator what lies ahead. Despite that Kerans carries on South and carries onto the point where he will join nature and the drowned world in every sense.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

book review - The Mistress of Nothing - Kate Pullinger

“The truth is that she hated me for being happy. She hated me for finding love when love had deserted her. She hated me for creating a family when she had lost hers.”

The idea of historical fiction is one that tends to conjure up images of book covers for Ellis Peters type thrillers about monks and monasteries or alternatively something about the plague.

So it was with some trepidation that Kate Pullinger’s Mistress of Nothing was picked up. But there are a few reasons why this book works compared to perhaps some of the other offerings on the market. Firstly, Pullinger has clearly done her research and been to the location of her novel’s setting Egypt. That makes it more a work based in fact than imagination.

Secondly, the backdrop and the timing are integral to the novel not just being used for the sake of being different. Let me explain further. Some times a Roman backdrop feels as if it has been put in because of their associations the reader has with that era of excess, war and emperors. Here the reader is likely to come to a world of class and politics in an old Egypt that is new to them. That means that Pullinger has to work at describing and setting the action.

In one sense this is a story about class and jealousy. A loyal servant finds love and chooses to keep that from her faithful employer. Once the secret is out the relationship breaks down completely. That is handled well although as a reader you are left frustrated with the impotence of a system that was only on the side of one set of people. But that was the reality and Pullinger also paints an interesting picture of the politics of a virtual dictator who is taking the men from the villages to build and die constructing his dreams.

What makes this book work so well is the descriptive powers that are deployed by Pullinger. You can visualise the hot Luxor environment, the small Bedouin children and the camel drives. Her ability to develop characters also means you can see the pain and anger as the relationships between the three pivotal characters changes.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Study in Scarlet - post II

A Study in Scarlet is very much a book of two halves with the second section detailing in rather unnecessary detail at times the background to the murders in London.

Just as you start to think the story has run out of steam and become an almost irrelevant monologue about the establishment of the Mormons and Salt Lake City it pulls back to London.

In a flurry the case is solved and Holmes shows off his powers of deduction and his skill at filling the numerous gaps left by the police. A great read that introduces one of the most famous crime characters of all time. Only criticism is the second half felt like padding and some sort of attempt to have a dig at the Mormons.

A review will follow soon…

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Back from hols

Back from a two week break. Did read a bit so will post up the notes i made over the course of the next couple of days.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Study in Scarlet - post I

This book introduces Dr Watson and the legendary Sherlock Holmes. The later is of course an awkward man subject to great swings in mood that make him a difficult person to share accommodation with.

But Watson enters into the flat in Baker Street with a sense that if nothing else he might encounter adventure. That adventure doesn’t take too long to arrive with Holmes, who seems to spend his time focusing on the minutiae of different types of tobacco and dust inviting Watson to join him as he gets called by the police to help with a murder.

The methods of detection used by Holmes are so different from the police that he is almost seen as an eccentric figure of fun. Yet in his flashes of brilliance he reduces the police to idiotic mannequins. A room in a deserted house with a man lying dead on the floor is just the sort of puzzle that Holmes likes to sort out…

Friday, August 21, 2009

Struggling to re-engage

Most readers at some point or another come across a book they struggle to enjoy. sharing views around reading on here and Twitter has made it quite clear that people do find some things a turn-off.

But having made a sort of pact with myself always to finish a book i start, even if it's horrible, in the belief that there will be something worth learning from the experience, it is hard to walk away from things.

But increasingly there are books lying at the bottom of bags started but far from finished. on holiday The Couples by John updike and The Book of Dave by Will Self consititure the two books I am struggling to get through.

It is not for want of trying but maybe a failure so far to connect with characters or plot. Won't bpther on holiday but i am determined to get through both books this year but to learn from the mistake of getting bogged down with future reading selections.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Turn of the Screw - post II

Once it has been established that the children appear to be haunted by the ghosts of the former man servant and governess then the story picks up the pace.

It becomes a question of trying to stop the children from being destroyed by the ghosts and the governess, with the help of the house keeper, sets out to do just that.

With a fairly limited story and cast of characters James nevertheless manages to get over a sense of growing horror. In the best traditions of tales of this type it is the anticipation of a visitation that keeps the reader on the edge of the seat. Although the ending, which will not be given away here, is also unexpected.

Once you cut through the difficult language conventions and get to the underlying story beneath this is a great little nugget that will provide seeds for future thoughts and nightmares.

A review will follow soon…

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Turn of the Screw - post I

What you have to face reading this relatively short story by Henry James is that it is going to take a while because of the language. He uses very stilted phrases that prevent this from flowing.

The only reason this book manages to keep your attention is because underneath the painful construction of the text is a solid story. The mix of the supernatural and the aristocracy is a well used one but never fails to get the hairs on the back of your neck going if done well.

This takes a while to get going with the story being related second-hand at a meeting of friends in the country. One of the guests promises an account of something so disturbing that the rest of the company will never forget it based on the idea of a child being connected with a ghost.

So the story of a governess sent to a large house in the country to look after two children unfolds. The children are angels and yet there is something troubling the governess who is informed that the older of the two, the boy, has been expelled from school.

Tales also of the former governess dying shroud the house in some sort of darkness.

But things get moving when the governess comes across a stranger walking in the grounds, a stranger not to the rest of the staff, who describe him as the former man servant for the owner. So far creepy but no problem but then the screw gets turned with the revelation that the man the governess saw is a ghost.

More tomorrow…

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Holiday reading continues

Before heading off on holiday The Times was running a free book offer in conjunction with Penguin and as a result a couple of books were picked up ‘free’. The idea of The Turn of the Screw and A Study in Scarlet was that if dropped on a beach or smeared with sun lotion they would not provoke a tragic outburst.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The New York Trilogy - post III

Of all the stories this one feels most up-to-date in terms of its timing. But for vast tracts the focus is on the past.

Again the character of a novelist is asked to help with the literary estate of an old friend, Fanshawe. He steps into his old friend’s shoes in more ways than one marrying his wife and living off the proceeds of the fortunes created by his old school friend’s novels.

But he alone knows that his old school friend is not dead and faced with the commission of his biography sets out to try and rid himself of the feelings of being haunted by Fanshawe.

He heads out to track him down, despite being threatened with death for doing so, and in the process almost loses himself. His marriage falls apart and his own identity is on the brink of folding into the path taken by Fanshawe when they finally meet. The fact that the old school friend talks through a locked door makes him the body in the locked room.

Throughout the three stories you sense the deep knowledge and appreciation that Auster has for the detective fiction genre. But he leaves you feeling slightly frustrated as the stories are not completed with some great linking together. There are images replicated, like the red notebook and the loss of identity, but there are limits to how far the stories are linked.

In the end this is a book that has the power to make you think about identity and language and about how those that don’t know who they are anymore find it dangerously easy to lose themselves.

A review will follow soon…

Sunday, August 16, 2009

bookmark of the week

The French seem to share the love of bookmarks with the British. As a result of my holiday being in Brittany most of the bookmarks show images of waves crashing at the rocks at the bases of lighthouses. There are numerous lighthouses along the Brittany coast and some of the dramatic storm pictures do make ideal bookmark images, being tall and thin. Great to see so many bookmarks on sale.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The New York Trilogy - post II

The story changes tack in the sense of timing. You can imagine the first story being set in the 1980s but this second section is clearly earlier. The subject is again a detective but in a clever play on words the main characters are White, Black and Blue.

White hires Blue to watch Black and send back weekly reports. All Black seems to do is sit in an apartment opposite Blue’s building and read and write. For the detective usually used to tracking down criminals and working on dynamic cases the ongoing assignment becomes frustrating.

He follows Black, gets to know his routine and starts to become changed by the experience with his appreciation of language increasing. That makes it not only more difficult for him to think and write in a limited police-speak type way for the purpose of his reports but also starts to open his eyes to beauty.

With a poetical yearning developing in Blue he starts to appreciate the local landscape. But his instinct and training remain intact and eventually he tires of the watching and as he meets his ex girlfriend and realises that his former way of life has ended forever he becomes slightly resentful.

Forcing the issue through disguised conversations with Black and attempted meetings with White he realises that he has been used and resorts to the sort of violence that you thought he had perhaps left behind.

You can see the links in terms of language, identity and the question of truth but because the stories felt disconnected by time it is with some trepidation that you turn to section three…

Friday, August 14, 2009

The New York Trilogy - post I

This book feels as if it has been around for a lot longer than it has. No doubt that is helped by the recent decision by Faber to reproduce the cover in a 1930s type design. But even inside the stories feel from the past.

Split into three stories the first is a strange and disturbing tale of a writer who answers a wrong call and decides to pretend to be the private detective that the caller is phoning for.

A tale of identity and language unfolds with the main character of Quinn losing his bearings completely as he struggles to solve the case. As he is hired to protect a man from his father after the former survived being locked up as a child by the later who was determined to see what language a child would produce if left sealed off from society.

The expectation is that left alone the vocabulary would come from communion with God and be the language of the Lord, the language probably spoken before the Tower of Babel incident.

Anyway Quinn follows, talks to and then loses the father who seems to be obsessed with the Tower of Babel concept. But Paul Auster introduces a character named after himself as the connection between Quinn and the private detective. The question of identity is constant.

Ultimately Quinn not only loses all track of those who had hired him but also of himself. His apartment, belongings and even name seem to disappear by the end. We are left with a man who has written his thoughts about the case and his predicament down in a red notebook and that is all that seems to remain.

Part II tomorrow…

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Holiday reading continues

Having read High Rise, a tale of violence and societal breakdown in a tower block, you have to be careful about where you go next. Something longer is in order because of the relative speed that was completed.

So next up is the second book purchased specially for the holiday The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster. Recommended by various people I follow on Twitter and blogs this also has the feel of being a ‘dead cert’ in terms of being time well spent.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

High Rise - post II

As the high rise falls apart in terms of infrastructure with the water, lifts and power all becoming intermittent the lives of those inside also falls apart. Each floor becomes tribal hunting in groups to secure food and luxuries from those who live around them. The death, a fall from the top floor of a businessman, marks a watershed where violence is acceptable.

The cast of characters that Ballard describes have to question themselves as they start the slide back into a primeval state. Some fade quickly without the strength to defend themselves whereas others emerge as leaders.

The disturbing nature of the story is nnot just how quickly man can turn on man but the manner in which the residents are so determined not to break the world they are living in that external influences are kept at bay.

Ballard makes you think. As you move through a modern landscape surrounded by the everyday objects he uses as a backdrop you are challenged to think about the chances of his fiction becoming fact. In High Rise those chances are slightly more than extremely remote and as a result the book leaves you disturbed but provoked.

A review will come soon…

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

High Rise - post I

One observation that you have to make about Ballard before you even start is that he manages to get the names of his characters just right. A name in Ballard’s world has to stand for many things. Take an architect for example. The name has to conjure up the image of a successful man, someone who has a certain position in society and as a result someone who thinks and behaves a certain way.

So we are introduced to a character that lives just above the middle of a 40 storey tower block. On the 25th floor he can look out on the floors below but is within a quick elevator ride of the delights of the world above.

But slowly but surely Ballard starts to take the world of the high rise, with its swimming pools, schools and shops and turns it into a fearful world. A society based on floors, bands from 1-10, 11-30 and then above emerge. The tenants start fighting each other at first verbally and in terms of anti-social behaviour. But as the days go by society starts to break down.

As a reader you are constantly asking yourself how this could happen knowing that given the right circumstances and time it well might. Of course things are speeded up in Ballard’s account but otherwise the breakdown of society and the movement towards violence and animal behaviour is very believable.

More tomorrow…

Monday, August 10, 2009

The holiday reading starts

It is so important packing the right number and genre of books for a holiday. Sitting on a beach in Brittany you need to be able to get enjoy the reading.

As a result the holiday starts with something that is not only not too long but could almost have the words guaranteed enjoyable on the cover.

Already I know that this year is going to be the year of J.G.Ballard for me and the more of his books I consume the more I admire him as a writer.

His ability to question modern society and push the consequences of living in concrete boxes obsessed with class and money to beyond the limits are fantastically powerful. So after knocking off Millennium People and The Drowned World it is time for one of the books that some have described as his best, High Rise.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Twelve Chairs - post IV

With the remaining ten chairs consuming both father Theodore, who is sent on a wild goose chase to the edge of Russia, and the pair working together the beginning of the end draw near as each of the chairs is discovered and found to be empty.

This search takes them across Moscow and then finally down to the Crimea. Ippolit and Bender survive being chased out of town by the chess club, an earthquake and other threats.

But the impact of chasing wealth and living like a beggar is that it changes the outlook from Ippolit and he turns from a former member of the landed gentry into a criminal. In the end he is determined to resort to extreme measures to get his hands on the jewels.

But in this tale of the madness of bureaucracy and of the collective against the greed of the individual the fates of Theodore, Ippolit and Bender are all cautions of how naked greed and tear apart the mind and soul. Although there are plenty of little shots at the soviet system and society it is that final message that presumably protected the book and the authors from the traditional Soviet censorship and spells in prison.

A review will follow soon…

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The Twelve Chairs - post III

By using the figure of Father Theodore as the priest using a death-bed confession about hidden jewels as a chance to become rich there is a gentle contempt. The priest is happy to walk out on his flock and share his secrets of a candle factory and wealth with his wife.

It chimes in with the communist view that the church is an organisation with plenty of hypocrisy and with its fair share of wealth loving staff. But Theodore is perhaps more honest than the others making no secret of his determination to gain wealth and change his circumstances.

Meanwhile the pair are working their way through various chairs and are now at a stage where they have managed to get close to buying all remaining 10 chairs at a state auction. But the relationship between Ippolit and Bender changes when the former blows his money on wine, food and a woman.

From that point on, with the chairs lost at the auction to various buyers, the younger man takes control and Ippolit is losing his grip on the jewels.

More tomorrow…

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Twelve Chairs - post II

If you have any understanding of Russian history then there is delightfulness as the events unfold against a post-revolutionary background. There are still those that support the Tsar and there are many who dream of a different world to the one they face post 1917.

In the middle of that are the two conspirators, Ippolit and Bender, hunting for the chair. The old man who is chasing the vision painted to him by his mother-in-law on her deathbed and the young pretender.

They establish that the chairs have been distributed throughout Moscow and plan to head there to rediscover them. The problem is that to do so involves money and they have to beg and scheme to get the funds. The way they get them is to appeal to a group of those dreaming of a return to Tsarist days.

The jokes are directed at everyone in this book but for those that spend their days dreaming of an anti-communist uprising there is a degree of pity mixed in with the laughs.

Armed with the money they need those hunting the chairs head for Moscow…

Thursday, August 06, 2009

book review - Millennium People - J.G. Ballard

It is a shame that it took the death of J.J. Ballard to get me to sit down and read his last short story about the collapsing tower of Pisa in the Guardian. In just a few hundred words he managed to take the blinkers of my eyes and show me that science fiction need not be about space men and aliens. It is about taking a scene of apparent normality and bending it through a refractor of great imagination.

As a result he tells a story that has a mixture of the mundane and the fantastical sitting alongside each other. The mundane is the Chelsea Marina, the baggage area at Heathrow and the long-stay car park at the airport. The fantastic is the bombs, middle class terrorists and the slide from respectability to the brink of murder and insanity of a corporate psychologist.

Millennium People is not just addressing the anxiety of the turn of the millennium but also questioning the society that has been built up and so ingrained that even a shift from one century to another has no impact.

In the middle is Dr David Markham who watches with incredulity as he first wife is involved in a bombing at Heathrow airport. Given the freedom by his relaxed and selfish wife to pursue his ambition to track down the bombers Markham becomes embroiled in a different world.

On the face of it this world is visible behind the curtains twitching in suburbia but the depth of the determination to unsettle the state and shake the middle class out of their stupor takes a bit more digging to locate.

But Markham does locate it and manages to not only find the bombers of his first wife but find himself. He gets to ask himself all sorts of questions about the lines he is prepared to cross as he is put in the position of taking lives as part of the cause. He is even given the chance to take lives in the spirit of retribution.

But this psychologist with a belief that God is a grand scheme invented to placate the masses is attracted to a similar view held by those arguing that the middle classes are equally led blind folded into believing their lives are alright. In fact they are propping up a failing system with their taxes and determination to make the world a better place. That middle class charitable attitude is in fact their weakness.

As Ballard gets his characters to strip that back he exposes some major questions that in this era of the war against terror could not be more topical. If no one listens to you quite how do you get attention? He also makes you think about the character and personality of those that manipulate and coordinate terror as much as he gets you to consider those allowing themselves to be dragged along.

Clever but also accessible and with healthy levels of humour as reintroduction to Ballard after many years absence after reading Empire of the Sun at school this was a real eye opener. This might well be one of my favourite books of the year but I have a sneaking suspicion that the more Ballard I read the more times I will be close to making that judgement call.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Twelve Chairs - post I

Unlike most Russian literature this story start pretty much from the off with the main character and his world introduced with light but penetrating brush strokes. By the time other authors might have got onto explaining the family tree and the situation of the village the main character Ippolit has gone through a day’s work.

As the recorder of births, marriages and deaths in a small village he has a clerks job and a clerks salary and his relationship with his mother-in-law reveals that he was married and widowed and lives in poverty.

In a town where the funeral directors are almost going bust through lack of deaths the moment when his mother-in-law dies is well known across Ippolit’s village. But before she dies she breathes the secret of her hidden jewels and in just a matter of pages a world, a character and now a mission have all become apparent.

More soon…

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Slowing down

The rate of reading really seems to have slowed this year. Part of the blame has to be on doing more cycling as part of the commute but to compensate I had been reading more in the evenings. Maybe tiredness has kicked in.

But the other theory is that I have made a few duff choices this year so far and they have slowed me down because they are enjoyable. Without wanting to get into the debate about whether or not it is right to walk away from a book unfinished let’s just say I’m moving to a point of view that life is too short and the proof is in the number of books I’m reading.

With so many on the to be read pile I suspect that some hard choices are going to have to be made soon.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Just Like Tomorrow - post III

At the end of this you are left with a sense that not only can good things happen in the bleakest of surroundings but also that love is an emotion that really can make the world go round.

As Doria watches her friends fall in love and former drug dealing hoodlums falling head over heels she is left to consider her own feelings for her friends. She decides to give love a chance and as the final few pages are turned this is a young woman who has not only maintained her optimism but now has someone potentially to share it with.

Funny and to use a youth term sassy this was a very enjoyable read. Review to come soon…

Sunday, August 02, 2009

bookmark of the week

Bookmarks seem to be getting harder and harder to come by unless they are some sort of short-term merchandising campaign. I have shared the delights of the Beatrix Potter range but on a trip to a mainstream bookshop today was disappointed to see the same along with some other film tie-ins to promote the latest Harry Potter effort.

The bookmark as an actual page marker serves a very useful purpose and it’s a great shame that bookshops don’t sell a range starting from the very basic up to these expensive promotional items. Without even a torn corner of a ticket to mark my progress I would be lost reading most books.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Just Like Tomorrow - post II

This book is written with great humour and has a very clearly defined tone of voice. As the main character weaves her way through the dissapointments of poverty, educational failure and indifference from various social workers things seem to be fairly bleak.

But what keeps you reading and what keeps the story going is an incredible sense of spirit. Even though there are loads of things going wrong for them the immigrants are determined to survive. They support each other and make it possible for a network of care to plug the gaps left by the French authorities.

It might not always work but the majority of the time Doria is looking upwards rather than down into despair. In that sense it is inspirational.

More monday…