Wednesday, January 4, 2006
The greatest man in Cedar Hole (by Stephanie Doyon)
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 11:45 pm
I finished this one before we left for Christmas, which means it’s yet another thing I didn’t get round to writing about. Which naturally makes me feel bad.
Not that I have too much to say about it: I bought it in London, in Waterstone’s on Oxford Street during a brief spell of anniversary niceness. I rather liked the cover, which, combined with the fact that it claimed it was ‘about small-town life, growing up and, above all, what it takes to be great’ made me buy it. (Also, it was big – it would last long.) Then I came back to Athens, and I read it. I liked it, though I definitely didn’t love it to bits. It reminded me of ‘Popular Music’, only without the popular music, if that makes any sense. The feeling about it –the small town and the people and the voice of the author– is quite similar: rough yet detailed, uncharitable but still vaguely sweet. And it has a good ending, which I think is rather rare. (In fact usually endings let me down, but that’s a different story.) And that is all.
(As for who is the greatest man in Cedar Hole, everyone seems to think that in the end the author concludes that it is Francis; but I would like it better if that wasn’t the case. It seems too lowly of a writer to write a whole book just to prove one of the characters –Robert– wasn’t as great as everyone thought after all, doesn’t it? It would be a lot better if the book was meant to be a discussion on greatness, but never mind. I should go to bed.)
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
The Jane Austen Book Club (by Karen Joy Fowler)
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 5:48 pm
I don’t like Jane Austen. I picked this in a second-hand bookshop on Stoke Newington Church Street, because, well, I was in a second-hand bookshop on Stoke Newington Church Street. It was a lovely place to be, and a lovely afternoon, and it was impossible to resist making it even more perfect by buying a book. (Anything can be made better by buying a book, as far as I’m concerned.) I picked this one because I’ve considered buying it only to put it down again so many times before, I thought I might just buy it to save me time in the future. Also, I quite like the cover. And I couldn’t find anything I wanted more. And did I mention it was £2,50?
Still, I thought it would let me down. That it would be fun to read but not very good. Rather superficial, in fact. And I was wrong. ‘The Jane Austen Book Club’ might not be the deepest book I’ve ever read but it by no means is shallow. It doesn’t shy away from important things, or play them down. It just looks at them sweetly, and find them pretty, rather like my grandmother might do. ‘Comforting’ is something I read about it on its back cover and I have to say, it’s true. Finally, I’d say that it is original, or rather, well-written and originally structured: not in the way a post-modern house would be but in the way a flower garden can be. In a way, it was almost poetic.
I was happy reading it; inspired; the world looked like a slightly better place for that time. All in all, I think that was the best-spent £2,50 of the London weekend.
Ps Why I never thought of posting about the books I read just like everyone seems to do is beyond me. I really wonder how many books I’ve read the past year. Probably too many (and most of them were a lot more than £2,50 too). Perhaps it’s best not to think about it too much!