Book review: The Inheritance of Loss

July 19, 2007 at 11:10 am (book review)

If you like fun books this one is not for you. It’s an engrossing, depressing, confusingly brilliant piece of writing from Kiran Desai.

Each character is a complete emotional mess and the book connects all the trials and traumas in some way. Every personal tragedy is explored in relation to other people.

A retired judge struggles to adapt to life in India during a time of immense political upheaval in the mid-80s. His granddaughter comes to live with him and falls in love with her tutor (surprise, surprise, it’s a kinda forbidden love). The judge’s cook longs for his son, who’s in New York trying to eke out a living by working in dodgy food places. In the mix are two Indian sisters who long for all things British and a whole other selection of motley characters add more layers to this story of loss and pain.

Each character endures severe suffering and the story is told in such a way that you can feel their pain along with them. By the end you’ll probably feel completely drained and won’t want to touch another book for a couple of days.

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Book review: The curious incident of the dog in the night-time

July 3, 2007 at 8:39 am (book review)

I was one of the few people who read Mark Haddon’s second book, A spot of bother, before I read his first. But I’m glad I did because everyone who did it the other way around said the second wasn’t as good as the first. I disagree (but that for another post).
The curious incident of the dog in the night-time is certainly a fantastic read – the language, the punctuation, the plot: sheer genius.
I’ve been reading a lot of great books lately so I’m glad this one didn’t disappoint. For those who haven’t yet given it a go – do.
If you like intelligent books that have an interesting twist, this is one to get hold of.
It’s about 15-year-old Christopher Boone who has Asperger’s Syndrome (so can’t really identify emotions in others which makes life complicated.
He has quirks, such as hating the colours yellow and brown and loving the colour red, he hates being touched and will not eat his food if it touches each other on his plate (ok, sounds like many people I know).
He lives in a safe, protected environment with his dad until their neighbour’s dog is killed. Christopher loves dogs so he makes it his mission to find out who killed the dog.
His “detection”, as he calls his detective skills, lead him on a journey that he never could’ve imagined – and he takes us along in painstaking detail.
This is a great book that gives us insight into a world we would never otherwise have know and Haddon is superb in his sincerity.
I think it’s a testament to his wonderful writing skills if one really thinks the person who wrote this book suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome.

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Spud – The Madness Continues

July 3, 2007 at 8:31 am (book review)

I finally finished it. The madness does indeed continue in this book but it’s not as good as the first one. It’s certainly amusing and touching but for me it felt a bit like the formula was stretching a bit.
What I found intriguing in the first book – the honesty, subtle humour and sensitivity – seemed a bit faded because it was a bit less sincere.
Still, it was funny and much better than the other drivel coming from South African pens. I would recommend it as a light read.
It’s certainly not a waste of time but Van de Ruit should please stop here. Don’t do a Johnny Depp and not quit while you’re ahead.
Score: 6 out of 10

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Book review: Spud by John van de Ruit

May 25, 2007 at 9:31 am (book review)

I’ll be posting a book review now and then. Let me know of any fab ones you know about that I simply have to read. 

John “Spud” Milton is only 13 years old but he’s one of the funniest, most charming characters I’ve read about in a long time. He and his buddies – Mad Dog, Gecko, crazy Vern and Roger the cat, Rambo, Boggo, Simon and Fatty – make up the Crazy Eight. And as their name suggests, they get up to all sorts of wild and wacky behaviour – mostly with hilarious consequences.
The eight struggle with being first years (and all that it entails), hormones, growing up, ghosts and girls. Oh, and surviving their midnight swims…
I usually don’t read ‘funny’ books but this was one of the best ones I’ve ever finished. I suspect it has something to do with the frankness and honesty it conveys; the hilarity seems to be a side-effect rather than the goal. Even serious topics and painful moments are dealt with in a frank, honest and, ultimately, side-splittingly funny, way. More Hugh Grant than Martin Lawrence kind of humour though – if you want toilet humour you won’t find it here.
The other characters who form part of the book add more layers to a well-written tale. If you really want to laugh out aloud, you must get into this book and experience some of the Milton madness.
The next book, Spud – the madness continues, is out soon so watch for the that review in a bit.
Toby’s score: 8 out of 10

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