Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Reading list for April 2007

Currently reading
Frank Schätzing, Der Schwarm
Adam Smith, The money game - again

Recently read
Terry Pratchett, Thud
   ditto, The fifth elephant
   ditto, Soul Music

Thomas Bernhardt, Der Untergeher

I don't often abandon books halfway through, in fact it almost never happens. Well, I gave up on Der Untergeher after a hundred pages, during which our narrator thinks about Glenn Gould while entering a cafe (yes, you read that correctly: it took him over a hundred pages to open and walk through a door). It just didn't hold my attention, although the subject matter could and probably should have done: a might-have-been concert pianist reflects on his student days and why he suddenly abandoned his studies and gave away his grand piano. I shall probably try again some time.

Pratchett's Thud is the book of the month. I'd say that it is his best so far: a very intense tale of dwarves, trolls, history and madness. Darkness literal and metaphorical is a presence, almost a character, in the story, as Pratchett describes the dwarves' lives in their deep, narrow, dark mines. Brilliant, highly recommended. ("Thud" is the name of a popular board game in the Discworld, played by Lord Vetinari among others. It's a chess-like reenactment of the battle of Koom Valley between the dwarves and the trolls. The game sounds fascinating: dwarves outnumber trolls by four to one; a dwarf may move any number of squares in any direction; a troll can move only one square at a time. This might sound like a slam dunk for the dwarves, except for the balance of strength: a troll can take up to five dwarves in a single move if he catches them right, whereas a dwarf can only take a (single) troll by "spearheading" a line of dwarves pointing directly at it. The game made the jump from fiction to the high street, I shall look out for a copy when I'm in New York this summer.)

Schätzing's Der Schwarm is an environmental-apocalypse novel of Nature getting fed up and taking her revenge on us—or is it just the natural consequences of our millenia of abuse? Horrifyingly real and all too possible, one reads with a kind of sickened fascination. (Lioness: trust me that this book is not for you; don't even the reviews.)

Next month's list
Last month's list



Blogger zhoen said...

I shall have to check out the game of Thud.

May 2, 2007 at 6:57:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Jenni said...

I don't normally abandon books part-way either. Though now that I read purely for pleasure and not on demand (as for school), I'm more likely to drop something that isn't holding my imagination or interest.

May 2, 2007 at 9:23:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Lioness said...

Oh Udge, don't you know me a bit by now?? Of course I'll now have to go read the reviews, you ghastly, ghastly man!

May 5, 2007 at 11:20:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Lioness said...

Ach du Scheisse!

You're very right, I'll now proceed to obliterate it from my mind, LALALALA NOTHING HAPPENED LALALA.

Anyway, one day (I was still a child) I realised I was not only going to die but that also means I'd never read all the books ever written - the good ones, obviously. From that day on I've been on a mission. If the book is rotten I'll skim and find out how it ends - but life's too short, and it's certainly too short to insist upon reading bad books properly when there are so many good ones demanding to come rest in my memory (and bookshelves, need to sort that out again). Not only that, but have you ever heard of Edmondo d'Amicis' book, Heart? It's a juvenile book and oh so dreadful, I dare say worse than Der Schwaerm - it's all abt orphans dying and being killed and sacrificing themselves for the unworthy/worthy. In fact, one of the stories IS the Titanic plot - that tells you something. I read it as a child - it's deemed fit for children, I suppose bcs the world wants to traumatise them and take away their will to live at a tender age - and I couldn't sleep well for days afterwards. When I was in my teens I re-read it, hoping I migth have been a tad too impressionable. I hadn't been, it was still a very cruel and frightening book - so I burnt it. I Auto-de-fé-ed it and yes, I'm both Portuguese and Jewish so the irony wasn't lost but it felt wonderful. Some books should not be allowed to live. Full stop.

May 5, 2007 at 11:35:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Udge said...

I hate to say "I told you so" but, er, I did tell you so :-)

And I fully appreciate the pressure of being unable to read every book in the world, I get that in most libraries.

May 5, 2007 at 4:45:00 p.m. GMT+2  

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