Sunday, July 4, 2010

June's Reading in Review

A few days late, but here's what I was reading amid other distractions in June...

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (novel)

Love in the Time of Cholera (Popular Penguins)
The first book by Marquez I've read. I bought it at the same time as One Hundred Years of Solitude (gotta love those $12.99 penguin classics), so you'll see that title discussed here at some stage later in the year. So I haven't been turned off Marquez, exactly, but I'm not sure about Love in the Time of Cholera. There's plenty to admire: it's ballsy, an epic on a very personal scale. But I never really felt anything for Florentino Ariza or Fermina Daza. They're unlikeable in many ways (he's a perpetually constipated despoiler of fourteen years olds and impregnator of unsuspecting house maids who thinks he's saving himself for Fermina Daza; she's a iron-hearted, strong-headed woman who smells the laundry and is funny about eggplant). The only time I felt close to a character was in the opening section where we follow Dr Juvenal Urbino. On reflection, this was probably the only "scene" in the novel, the rest was all rapid fire narration. I like a bit of both (showing and telling, if you will), but for me the mix was off in Love in the Time of Cholera.

Gilead by Marilyn Robinson (novel, audiobook)

GileadListening to Tim Jerome read Robinson's novel was a fantastic experience. The story is told in epistolary form and one of the strengths of the book is the voice of the narrator, Reverand John Ames, who is writing a long letter to his young son whom he will not see grow up. Ames stumbles into debates of doctrine and reflections upon decades-old sermons - you wouldn't call the novel a page-turner in the usual sense. Stumbly, reflective, non-plot driven novels are often hard to get into as audiobooks, but this was not the case here. There was plenty of time to marvel at the craft and intellect of Robinson, and the voice-acting of Jerome, while still feeling pulled along by the story.

Everything We Hoped For by Pip Adam and Once Upon A Time in Aotearoa by Tina Makereti (short stories, NZ)

Once Upon a Time in AotearoaEverything We Hoped forI attended the launches of both these books (Pip's in May and Tina's in June), and I completed the trifecta with the launch on Thursday. I enjoyed both collections, which are rather different (as is mine from theirs) -- rather than say anything else, I hope to interview each author individually in the coming weeks/months and post it on my blog. T'will make a welcome change from the A Man Melting spruik-fest, I'm sure.

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