In November, our Book Club decided to try to read four books the two months. It was a little ambitious, to say the least. No-one finished all four. I managed three and a bit, but gave up on the last one (Updike’s Terrorist) after it made my head itch. I don’t think there was one book that everyone had read either. So we kind of skirted around them in the few hours we had for discussion. Ach, who cares – we were in the pub and the beer was excellent as usual.
I really liked Beowulf – much more than I thought I would. Heaney’s translation is aimed at the modern reader and yet is also supposed to maintain the atmosphere of the original Angl0-Saxon (more Angle that Saxon, I expect). A saga of a brave warrior, set in a time of strong traditions and on the cusp of converting to Christianity, there’s battles against monsters in between meetings in Great Halls.
Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman was also a cracking read. I think people might be put off by the bizarreness of it all, but at the end it becomes clear what that is all about. It’s a morality tale that explores guilt, self-delusion, the nature of infinity, and the personalities of bicycles.
I already knew that Haruki Murakami was a great writer, and while After Dark was not as weighty as some of his other books, it is intense and I found it captivating. It’s not so much a novel as a set of stories about a handful of interconnected people taking place over a single noght. Some of it is suggestive of the supernatural, while the rest is deeply and realistically personal.
As I said, I couldn’t get into John Updike’s Terrorist, and I didn’t finish it. It just came across to me as being superficial, with detailed and yet stereotypical characters. None of the people I’d met in the book generated an ounce of empathy, let alone sympathy, and it made my head itch.
We’ve now decided to read The Life of Pi, which was a Booker winner for Yann Martel, and The Other Hand by Chris Cleave, which I’d never heard of before.