Saturday, 27 June 2015

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Set in the deep American South this follows a young girl's journey into adulthood amidst a world of inequality, racial tensions and poverty. Abused by the man she calls 'Pa' and separated from her devoted sister, Celie struggles to carve out a future of her own.

In many ways I like this book. I like the characters, the clever way Alice Walker integrates and uses the unique voice of the main character and it is also quite educational. The story kept my interest all the way and overall it's not a bad read.

But I did feel kind of disconnected from the story. You know sometimes when you read a really good book and you feel like you are not just reading a book but actually 'consumed' by it? I didn't get that with this book. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's because there is so much historical hype about the Color Purple and whenever there is hype, genuinely I tend to be a little disappointed. Or maybe it's because this book isn't really aimed at me at this point in my life. I do feel like it's more of a woman's book and even though I'm not exactly a blokey bloke, maybe I'm still not the intended reader.

But I also think part of the reason I felt detached from this one is because there are simply too many characters to hold on to. I found myself struggling to keep up with what I can only describe as a literary version of ' Who's who.'  There are so many characters in this and so many locations it's not easy to keep up. It's not helped by Alice Walker's use of the 'Mr --' thing instead of just using people's surnames. But maybe that's the kind of thing the main character would have done in those days.

I did like this book but I didn't love it. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had read it when I was younger.


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Hard Water by Jean Sprackland

First published by Cape Poetry in 2003.

I have always had a love hate relationship with poetry but I still try to read a handful of poetry books a year. This jumped out at me at our local library and it's a handy quick filler of a read.

This honestly has to be one of the best collections of poetry I have read. There's not really a damp squid in there. Jean Sprackland's writing is fresh and quirky and, in places, reassuringly northern. Her writing reminds me of Billy Collins who is still my favourite modern day poet.

 A few notable crackers: Hard Water, Caravan, Shocks, The Man Who Comes To Collect The Bottle Bank, The Light Collector and the unique and disturbing A Baby In The Filing Cabinet. I'd say the Light Collector is the pick of the bunch.

Overall a fab collection of poems.


The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

The Buddha in the Attic recounts the trials and tribulations of the many Japanese women who travelled to America in search of a better life, clutching the photos of their new husbands to be, in the early 1900's. Some of them were as young as 12. Some of them were seasick. Some of them never made it across.

I've never read a book written in First Person Plural and I didn't know anything about the Japanese picture brides before I read this book. It's a book that shouldn't work. It should be boring. It is borderline Non-Fiction and there isn't really a traditional plot to grab hold of. But it does work. A lot of that is down solely to the wonderful prose that Julie Otsuka weaves the story with. Every line is significant. Every line is powerful. Every line is totally gripping.

The story is an eye opener. It's educational. It is tragic and inspirational. It's just the right length for the story that it tells and I think the biggest compliment I can give the Buddha in the Attic is that is has given me something different. It is unique in a great way and I can't ask for more than that.


Friday, 12 June 2015

Helen's Babies by John Habberton

There is something I find incredibly annoying about listening to Librivox recordings. I can't quite put my finger on it but I don't think I've ever listened to one that I didn't find annoying.

This is an old book and it's perfectly harmless. It's a book for children or a book for families, which ever way you want to look at it. It's about a well groomed city guy who spends a week looking after his sister's young children. He initially finds the children annoying but he ends up literally falling in love with them. They get up to all kinds of scrapes and mishaps but forgive me, I wasn't rolling around on the floor in hysterics.

I just found it boring. Maybe if I had read the book instead of listening to a woman reading it to me I would have appreciated it more. I just found her annoying, especially when she was reading the children's voices. I just wanted to chuck this book-less book at her!

Not my cup of bovril.