Thursday, July 23, 2015

Deep, shallow, Deep

It's been a while - got a bit bogged down with a new job and the school holidays - I've been reading though, just not writing about it.
The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco
A book I wanted to read, after knowing of the movie and having read bits of Eco previously, I was delighted to pick this book up. I'd been to Kloster Eberbach where apparently scenes were filmed in the old cellar so felt a connection In the end, I didn't really enjoy it until well into the tale. I've read three of four Eco books now and all of them are turgid, rambling, and while scholarly and perhaps written beautifully (I don't know that I can judge that when reading a translation), they are tiresome to read and I find myself being bored by the long elliptical passages. Perhaps I've become base and a Philistine and seeking action and a story arc that engages me, but I found myself failing to care about the protagonists, couldn't be bothered keeping up with the long exposition about various sins, sinners and scandals in the church, and even the two most significant passages of descriptive prose, the boys discovery of the carved doorway in the church, and it's allegorical features, and then the dream sequence where he sees a vision of carnality, which are so important to the book, I skimmed as being just too dense and too much for me.
My preference was the action sequences in the kitchen, stables and library, and the crisis that ends the book. So I'm shallow
I read this "Eco’s gargantuan and complex novel about a murder mystery involving a monastery and a series of clues hidden within their texts is entertaining if not thought-provoking. Influenced by Roland Barthes, Jorge Luis Borges and other enigmatic 20th century figures, the novel is a love letter to the shared process of interpretation that brings together communities and their readers." just now. 
To be honest, the clues were never of interest - the novel doesn't present as a murder mystery for the reader to solve. The writer has spent too much time on religious navel gazing nad because of it what could have been an interesting story set in a fascinating environment became turgid and unpleasant. So - did not like. I respect the scholarship and the book is entertaining, but can't decide what it is.

War - Remington Kane

This is another in the long list of these books - I read and reviewed The Life and Death of Cody Parker earlier and there isn't much to add. More violent fantasy revenge from our hitman protagonist. I'm hooked into the series nad they are readable for those late night don't want to think but need a book times but I don't think I need to spend much time here on it.

The English Patient - Michael Ondaatje
Another book of the movie and another one widely praised - this one I did enjoy. Not a lot of action, no, but a complex tale with mystery and history intertwined. Plus a vague memory of Kristen Scott Thomas in the movie kept me interested in this book. A good tale reminiscent of Graham Green in its morality and tone. Worth a read.
The funny thing is that on looking for the book cover online I spotted on Goodreads that this polarised a lot of people, many of whom hated it for being all the vague, slow moving, 'this is like having gossamer draped over your face and then removed' complaints that it's 'too poetic'. I agree it's slow and nobody seems to do anything much, but hey, they're deeply broken by years of war, so ok. Anyway someone else wrote 'This book is a slow moving dream-- like a great, surrounding poem. The language is unbelievably sensual and the story is like nothing you'll ever read. It is thick with emotion and description. Although somewhat laborious at parts, it's altogether disassembling (to quote the author). It takes you into the raw bleeding heart of Almasy and never lets go. It made me want to die....and then be re-born and read it again. I could not ever express how much I love love love this book.'
So there you go. I used to read a lot of this sort of thing when I was exploring more, and perhaps trying to be seen reading interesting books, by interesting women. 
 Hey ho, more later.

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