Here some stuff about the books I read. For now I'm mostly using the bits I write for my Dutch online bookgroup so the text is usually mostly in Dutch but the quotes from English books are in the original.

maandag 17 augustus 2009

Ghost Children ~ Sue Townsend (1997)

Typical Townsend easy reading. Short fast sentences. Clearly sketched characters. Story of a man who revisits the woman who aborted their baby (which he had wanted to keep) 17 years earlier. Intertwined with a young hopeless couple with a (battered) baby and another on the way. And a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Ok, I'll admit, it was the blurred dog photo on the front that first drew me to the book. Good 'in between' sort of read.

vrijdag 14 augustus 2009

We Need to Talk about Kevin ~ Lionel Shriver

For the first 100 pages there weren't enough corners on the page to turn down all the bits I wanted to mark as memorable/recognisable/quotable. She basically just writes down all the reasons I've ever voiced for not having children plus a lot of the arguments I would also agree with for actually overcoming these reasons and having them anyway. And the rest of the book just makes me glad I only ever got as far as the nOt having them bit! I cringed my way through much of the book, thinking, Oh this could have been me, mother of a horribly logical serial killer. But it wasn't all horrific recognition (always a bit of a cheap way to enjoy a book really...) She writes frighteningly well. So sharp and accurate. I've heard her style described as cold and calculating. Fine by me, I'd rather have her 'calculatingly' accurate prose than a lot of the sloppy emoting and cliché spouting which so often counts as 'literary thrilling' these days. Like Grunberg's 'Tirza', this book, which for me was good enough as a burbling and withering description of 'family life' which I never wanted to finish, turned tail at the end with a shocking twist. I'm seldom good at seeing such things coming as I don't look for them in books I'm enjoying just for the writing. And as in a perfect short story, once the end is revealed it is of course, inevitable that it should be so. The clues were all there. I'm still in a state of mild shock at how good this book was. She's a female American version of Arnon Grunberg (and from me there is no higher praise.) I've heard that she's a bit of a one-trick-pony, and that her other books are not nearly as good as this one. I may well try one and see if I agree with this but for the moment I'm happy to let her stay up on a pedastal with an inscription on it reading 'Elma's best read of 2009 so far'.