Tag Archives: Books

WOOL, by Hugh Howey

I found out about WOOL from a Facebook friend, who recommended it highly. And boy am I glad she did! Post-apocalyptic and dystopian literature doesn’t come much better than Hugh Howey’s five novel series(with more to follow, as well as the prequels FIRST/SECOND SHIFT).

From WOOL’s ominous beginning – a recently widowed sheriff volunteers for “cleaning” – to its revealing conclusion, the author fills each page with characters that grow from accepting the status quo to questioning everything they’ve been led to believe about how and why they live the way they do. Even the ‘villain’ of the piece is motivated by what he thinks is right – and a part of me understood why he acted the way he did.

Mr. Howey’s writing is superb; his descriptions of life underground are both real and affecting, and his action scenes gripped me with their authenticity and pace. In WOOL, mankind’s future is as bleak as Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD, but the hope Hugh Howey offers at the end makes following Juliette’s journey a sign that maybe, just maybe, we can make amends for our mistakes.

Read WOOL. Please.

The Daily Rant: Raving Haruki Murakami and 1Q84

Rather than rant away on some topic that’s currently got my back up, today I wish to rave about an author I’ve recently discovered. I don’t know a lot about Japanese author Haruki Murakami, but 200 pages into his new novel, 1Q84 (first published in his native country in 2009), I am astounded and captivated by this literary marvel.

This is a long book and was originally published as a trilogy. However,  the American publishing company Knopf published all three novels in one volume last week and it’s this edition that I picked up in Hodges Figgis. For reasons best known to myself I tend not to read foreign authors (my recent attempt to read Les Miserables stalled at the end of the first volume), but it appears Murakami’s style is distinctly Western by nature.

I can’t give too much away about the story mainly because I don’t really know what it’s about. Okay, it has a fantasy feel to it because of its theme of parallel universes and a race of beings known only as the Little People. But it’s the power of Murakami’s prose that’s holding my attention. He is a very ‘readable’ literary fiction writer (an oxymoron if ever there was one) and his characters are uniquely drawn and compelling.

From what I’ve read so far, there is murder, sex, religious zealotry, magic realism and a 17-year-old Japanese dyslexic who may or may not have written a book called Air Chrysalis. It is this girl, Fuka-Eri, around which the plot revolves.

At the moment I’m taking every opportunity to read this novel, whether it’s stealing a page or two while working, or whole chapters when I have more time. Like I said, I’m only a fifth of the way through the novel. but already I feel like I’ve discovered lost treasure.

100 Words. 100 Days: Day 94. On Classic Novels.

There was a time when I wouldn’t touch a classic novel with a lighted pitchfork. They were too dense, I thought, written in a language no longer relevant for today’s modern needs. Too many thees, thous and words I need to look up in a dictionary.

But then I picked up Les Miserables, by  Victor Hugo. Yes, it’s dense, with passages that seem to go on forever, and for no particular reason. It has more tangents than a geometry manual; but it’s a joy to read. I feel that I’ve given classics a bad rep. Now I’ve changed my tune.

 

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 93. On Good Reads.

I pity those who say they’ve never read a book and don’t feel the need to. Sure isn’t it a waste of time? they say. We have bills to pay, mouths to feed, and work to be done. Who needs sparkly vampires anyway? We have cinemas and DVDs for that. To them I say, you’re missing the point. Movies and television shows provide the images for you. With reading you have to do the work yourself.

And yes, my non-reading friends (who are more than likely not reading this), reading is work, and it rewards better than most cash-paying jobs.

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 74. On Disappointments.

James Patterson was a writer for whom I had a lot of time. His earlier Alex Cross novels, up to an including Violets Are Blue, were outstanding pieces of entertainment: fast-paced, relentless thrillers. I could read a book a day if I had the time.

Then they got stupid. But worse than that, they became predictable. Even worse than that, I wished Patterson would kill off Cross once and for all. Then Patterson became a cash cow; so much so, he farmed his writing off (in my opinion) to anyone who had their hands out.

Have you been similarly disappointed?

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 73. On Impulse.

We’ve all been there: that moment of madness that overtakes us with such force that we have no choice but to submit to its will. I don’t know what drives you, my reader, to such behaviour; but for me it’s the need for a book. Not just any book – but one book that I need – must – get my hands on.

Last week it was The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. After seeing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, I just had to get my hands on some classic Cold War fiction.

As it turned out, I ended up buying three more books.

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 72. On Smiley.

No, not the emoticon but the character: John Le Carre’s famous spymaster, George Smiley. Coming out of a screening of the recent adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, I thought about fictional characters authors are most famous for. Fleming has Bond, Lee Child has Jack Reacher, Conan Doyle had Sherlock Holmes.

For people of a certain age, Sir Alec Guinness’s portrayal of Smiley was the benchmark by which Gary Oldman would be judged. But now Le Carre’s creation has a new lease of life, and  I would love to see him return for another adventure.

Classic characters will live forever.