Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Two reviews

I feel like I've lost the ability to review after such a long time. It feels a bit strange now, to sit down and write my thoughts on books I've read, as if I haven't done this in ages, while it's only been a month or so. Oh well, I want to catch up so I'll talk briefly about some books now and see if I can get back on track!

The first is Girl meets Boy by Ali Smith

Ok, I have to admit, after reading this and The Accidental, that Ali Smith is not for me. I enjoyed this more than the Accidental, probably because it was shorter, but it didn't stand out at all. It's part of the canongate myth series, reinterpreting Ovid's myth of Iphis in a modern tale that defies genders. It sounds interesting and it was, I just wished the author spent more time with the two lovers and less with all the rest, including a very long (considering the length of the book) lecture of how to call a bottle of mineral water. It started slowly, and by the time I was interested, it was over.
I can only clearly remember one quote and I love it:
She was the most beautiful boy I had ever seen in my life...She was as brave and handsome and rough as a girl. She was as pretty and delicate and dainty as a boy. She turned boys' heads like a girl. She turned girls' heads like a boy. [...] She was so boyish it was girlish, so girlish it was boyish, she made me want to rove the world writing our names on every tree.
Some parts were really moving, especially those about love. And I also liked that there was a political, rebellious side, even if a bit naive. It's just that I'm not comfortable in Smith's style, and I grow tired of it pretty quickly. The endless flow of words that lose meaning after a while, the fragmentation, the vagueness. It's too abstract for me. I like that in painting but obviously not in prose.
I'm ready to try one more book and then I give up. I was told Hotel World is brilliant. But I don't expect at this point to be blown away by it, so I won't run and buy it any time soon...

Gold by Dan Rhodes
I wanted to save this for a longer review cause I think it deserves one, but time is slipping away and I don't want to be left with lots of old reviews in the new year.
Anyway, this was brilliant! A funny, cosy, original, and quick read that's perfect for these cold winter evenings. With a hot cup of tea, wrapped in a duvet, possibly in front of a fire.
It's about Miyuki, a British girl of Japanese origins, who spends her holidays in the same seaside village in Wales every year, in January. She and her girlfriend had both agreed that, once a year, each had to be able to spend a month alone, away from the other. This is supposed to strengthen their love and their relationship. That's why Miyuki choses the semi-deserted town by the sea, where she can read a book a day, drink gallons of beer at the pub, and go for solitary walks sipping hot tea. She can also binge on junk food as much as she likes and observe the quiet but interesting village life, always from a distance. Only this year will be different. And by breaking the rules and interacting with the locals, her holiday takes a completely unexpected turn.
For some reason, probably because it's very funny and very British, it reminds me of Nick Hornby. The characterisations are wonderful. I loved tall Mr Hughes, short Mr Hughes, Septic Barry and the Children from Previous Relationships. Only by flipping through the pages now, it makes me want to read it again.
Gold is a little gem. Clever, quirky, but also moving and heart-breaking. (You'll see why).
And yes, you'll never think about sneezing in the same way again :)

8 comments:

Nymeth said...

That's too bad about Ali Smith. The book sounds like something I'd like, though, even if the mineral water thing does sound weird :P

I like her a lot, but I really understand why her style is not for everyone. The thing of hers that blew me away the most was a short story called "The Theme is Power", which was published in one of those Penguin Pocket 70's editions. It's probably in one of her collections too, but I have no idea which.

As for Gold: straight to the wishlist it goes!

Darla D said...

Gold sounds like a winner - and clearly I have GOT to read something by Hornby soon! I'll make that a resolution for 2009. I know how you feel about getting behind in reviews. I'm hopeless! Oh, well - I'm having fun when I manage to do them, at any rate.

Zoealea said...

I nominated you for the I Love You Blog Award.

Trish said...

I haven't heard of Gold but it's definitely going on the list! Sounds perfect for starting a new year fresh. Actually reminds me that I need to pick up another Hornby book as well. Eeeks--too many good books out there!

valentina said...

Nymeth, I'll try to remember that one, and I'll let you know what I thought!maybe it's on-line?

Darla, hope you grab a nick hornby soon,my first went straight to the favourites!
and my resolution for the new yearis NOT getting behind reviews!

Wow, thank you Zoe, I have to return the favour now:)

Trish, yeah too many, but Gold is good also because it's quick!:)

Darla D said...

Which Hornby do you think I should start with, Valentina?

valentina said...

well, er, I'm raving about him but I've only read the one! which is High Fidelity. I've also bought it as a xmas present for a friend of mine.
So that I would recommend. But apparently About a boy is also very good.

Darla D said...

Valentina - that's okay! I'll see what's available at my library and go from there. I'm sure I'll like him because of you and Nymeth and Chris and so many other reviewers whose opinions I trust. :-)