Books, books, books!

While waiting for my long hair to dry, I am going to talk about one of my favourite things in the world: books:) Have read a couple in the last few months and though i am too lazy to go into an in-depth discussion of these novels, here are just some opinions.

Ali Shaw’s The Girl with Glass Feet

This is a fantasy love story revolving around Ida, a young woman inflicted with a strange curse and is slowly turning into glass. I really like the imagination behind the book’s premise – how a person can be struck with the tragedy, how his or her body transforms into glass bit-by-bit, how the person eventually dies, and how death can affect the invasion of glass on the organs. But, and this is a big but, the writing is almost juvenile and the love story, which I suspect the author thinks of as the backbone of the tale – sucks. The book fails in depicting human relationships and emotions, and at the end of it all, i just felt like it could have been so much better.

Frank McCourt’s Teacher Man

His Angela’s Ashes is one of my all-time best books to read. Teacher Man isn’t bad at all. In fact, as a former teacher myself, I can almost identify with the trials and tribulations of McCourt’s long teaching career. Thing is, it is hard to top Angela’s Ashes. I was expecting a lot more, so I guess I was a little disappointed.

Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran

Real-life account about how a group of Iranian women – under the guidance of their teacher (the author Azar Nafisi) – formed a book club and through Western literature: think the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, Jane Austen, Vladimir Nabokov  etc-gained release from the daily suppression of their thoughts and individuality by the extremist regime.

The book isn’t too difficult to read, it is interesting and provides good historical insight into how Iran degenerated into a fundamentalist state.  The story is also touching and inspiring. The author’s passion for classic Western Literature is the book’s anchor but also in my opinion, its archilles’ heel.

I would like to consider myself reasonably interested in the classics. I have read Fitzgerald’s Tales of the Jazz Age (a collection of his short stories, amongst which I loved the Curious Case of Benjamin Button most), Nabokov’s Lolita , Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, as well as Sense and Sensibility, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, I have done Charles Dicken and erm, read a semi-autobiography of Henry James entitled The Master (fantastic book btw) but to truly appreciate Lolita in Tehran- a much, much deeper understanding of these books is required.

There were chunks of text in the book devoted to the analysis of such literature and man, there were times I honestly felt I was reading a textbook complete with annotations. Not exactly the best feeling in the world. Again, a pretty good book but makes for rather heavy reading.

Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood

I LOVED the book. I have always had a love-hate relationship with Murakami. I love the prose, I love how his books are somehow steeped in reality yet suspended in abstraction and symbolism, and I love how sad he makes me feel (I know this is weird but his books make me depressed in a self-pitying and loathing way which can be pretty enjoyable at times) BUT i just can’t quite get over the fact that I am reading something translated.No offence to the translators – I am sure they are good at what they do – but  i just feel cheated.

 Norwegian Wood is the most accessible piece of work I’ve read by Murakami- not many second reads or guesses required, and I finished it in the 18 hours it took to fly me to my destination. And probably because it is that straightforward, I just felt that the words came directly from Murakami, without third parties coming into the picture.

The end result is a haunting novel- there are so many good things to say about it: the beautiful characterisation, the depth of each protagonist and how I think we can all find some semblance of ourselves or of someone dear to us in each of them, the quotes- oh the quotes, the pace, the complexity and purity of love, and how, how sad it can make the reader feel. I teared, nope more like cried twice and ended up with a stuck nose throughout the plane journey. Not a good book to read if you are already emotionally unstable, but otherwise, sheer enjoyment=).

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