Monday, 28 November 2011

Birdsong - an incredible read

Well, no one warned me quite how affecting Birdsong is. I couldn't put it down, but half the time couldn't read the words for welling up. I don't think I've ever read anything, or seen a film that gives you quite such a personal account of life in the trenches. Reading about the war usually allows you some distance, but this book makes it so personal that you get completely sucked in. It's so clever in the use of context. Characters that I could easily dislike in another novel became the ones I was most fond of, and most precious about if it's possible to feel protective of a fictional figure. The events they go through in the book and as a result the perspective of life they have are so well described that you shift your own boundaries of what is 'likable' in a person. It's a very humbling read.
I've travelled a lot. I read a lot. I studied anthropology and I try to always open my mind to learning about the world from every source available. But reading Birdsong just reminded me of how sheltered our lives are. How different things are now and how privaledged we are to live in a world which was created for us by generations before us who gave up their lives so we could have the protected, safe environment we do now. And that there are still people who dedicate their lives to ensuring it stays that way. I always find it hard to read or see things that relate to war. I find it very upsetting to think about the horrors that people have faced (and are facing) in fighting for whatever cause is on the table at the time. But I loved this book. Every page of it.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Severe blog neglect

Wow, has it really been that long since I last logged in? Eeesh, must remember to look back into the real world every now and again. Apologies for any typos but I'm typing this entry one-handed having had a bit of a fight with my bedroom door and broken a finger last week. Not the best thing I've ever done, but the long wait for the operating table to come free in the hospital meant I could finally get in a few good hours quality book time without feeling guilty about the indulgence. Every cloud and all that...
I found Dracula to be pretty heavy going if I'm being honest. I enjoyed it, and can see why it's such a popular novel with the impressive detail, beautifully descriptive and elegant language and the way the suspense builds, but the trouble I had was that it's so famous. All of the great revelations throughout the book are things you already know so the element of mystery that it must hold for anyone who doesn't know the story of Dracula is really diminished. The other big problem I had with it was the constant battle I was having with my own brain to not read Van Helsing's voice in a Jamaican accent. It was a fleeting moment where I thought the writing style gave him a caribbean twang and the next thing I know everytime he spoke I found myself developing his creole. Sigh. I do wish I had more control over my mind sometimes. He still remains my favourite character in the book. I spent a lot of time finding dark, quiet places to read it in the hope that the atmosphere would get me more into the spirit, but sadly I wasn't drawn in to the degree I'd hoped and found myself flagging a bit towards the end. Still, glad to have read it!
I've popped the Hobbit in my bag with the intention of that being the new venture, but I'm now wondering if perhaps I need something more modern to boost my enthusiasm again. I really want my next one to be something I can't put down... may need to get a bit of advice from the Twitter crew on what's going to give me that brilliant book buzz back.