The Review Post: The One Where I Review As Many Books I Can (Part One)
I’m going to review some books in what will hopefully be short and pithy. Remember to click the images to find out more! Also, I’ll probably write longer reviews for some books. The ones that deserve that is.
This was so utterly blah that I’m having trouble remembering what happened. I’m not adverse to books without plot because since when was that the most important thing? Yet, Member of the Wedding was so devoid of anything resembling a narrative I was constantly going “let’s go, something happen”. Although being well-written, with an atmosphere of intense melancholy the novel was not for me.
My Life in CIA was one boring book. It straddles the line between fiction and non-fiction, and for a while it delivered on the interesting premise of the autobiographical in fiction; what is real and what is not. Yet, Matthews squanders anything interesting developments with a tacked on and dull thriller at the end. I suppose what irked me about this novel is that Matthews spends so much time on the minute details of his life: what he had for dinner, where he went etc that it slowed down everything. In the end, it’s all a game (not surprising seeing as Matthews is the only American member of Oulipo) but it’s like watching someone play a game – boring.
Nine Nights is disjointed, the narrative isn’t very coherent and you’re left with a slightly interesting, slightly dull novel that never delivers with it’s premise.
From Aberystwyth with Love is slightly weird, slightly baffling blend of hard-boiled, detective stories with a fantastical element. And Wales. It was darker than funny the humour mainly coming from the juxtaposition of quaint Welsh life (with added magical stuff and weirdness) and typical American gumshoe elements. However, it all fell a bit flat – it’s a gimmick and, this being the fifth book in a series, is wearing thin. It’s good enough but don’t be expecting greatness.
The Mystery of the Enchanted Crypt is written by the Spanish novelist Eduardo Mendoza. A strange book but rather good. It features an unreliable narrator who smells bad (a recurring joke throughout the novel is that he never gets the chance to have a shower) and frequently breaks the law. It has an interesting mystery but it is the narrator’s journey and not the destination that is important in this tale. Worth a read.
Wings is supposedly an important book. It also happens to be one of the worst books I’ve read this year. With an almost impenetrable prose style, Wings becomes an almost diabolical game of torture to find out what’s happening and who’s speaking to who and when. Thankfully it’s only 112 pages, unfortunately it’s 111 pages too long. Avoid.
The Swing Voter of Staten Island is a blend of films (Escape from New York springs to mind) and dystopia fiction to make an action-packed journey into a pop-culture, political and thrilling world. It’s good but the characters feel a bit like stock and everything is a bit too movie-like and it doesn’t have a lot of emotional depth. I would recommend it though.