Thursday, October 23, 2014
Letter by letter - part 1
A by Andre Alexis is a short (74 pages) novella that can easily be read in an afternoon. The protagonist, Baddeley, is obsessed with a reclusive writer, Avery Andrews. In his search, Baddeley joins a dinner party attended by Canadian literati. I love that he describes Margart Atwood as “having something of the iguana to her.” That description alone made me love the book.
C by Tom McCarthy was short listed for both the 2010 Man Booker Prize and the Walter Scott Prize. Even though you are not supposed to judge a book by the cover (which we all do) this novel has a fascinating one. Serge Carrefax lives in a world of “c”, that of communication and connection. His father teaches the deaf and experiments with wireless telegraphy. This affects his family, and the story, in many ways. Serge seeks the message behind all the messages.
J by Howard Jacobson is another novel shortlisted Man Booker. Jacobson won this award with his novel The Finkler Question. Jacobson is not known for feel-good novels and he proves this once again with his 13th. He has stated that it is the duty of novelists to take a gloomy perspective ; “I have never met an intelligent optimist” J takes place in a dystopian future in which the memory of the past is only referred to as “the thing that happened, if it happened.” But don’t let this stop you from reading this wonderfully written novel, which has been compared to Orwell’s 1984 and Brave New World. I can easily imagine this novel being taught in schools in the future.
N by Stephen King was one book that I didn’t understand at first. Mind you it could be because there was something lost in translation. It was originally a short story in King’s Just After Sunset and the version I read was a graphic novel. Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but I think in this case I would take King’s words over the drawings (as good as they are). The “N” in this novel is a person’s name but I took it as a symbol for numbers. The characters in the novel all become obsessed with numbers, especially if there are seven or eight stones in Ackerman’s filed. Read either version of the story to find out more.
O by Anonymous follows in the footsteps of the political novel, Primary Color, in which anonymous is Joe Klein. The Anonymous of O is Joe McCain’s ghostwriter, Mark Slater. While the story detailed in Primary Colors had already happened the plot in O has not. It is a portrait of Barack Hussein Obama. It is a novel of aspirations and delusions. And you, Dear Reader, can you guess what is fact and what is fiction?