I was tethering the cows out by the pond when a boy came into our pasture saying that Father Cléophas himself want to see me tout suite in the morgue.
And even based on true events, although I have to admit that the note from the editor(s) and shared background information took away from the story, for me anyway. I could have not read them, of course.
The story here is how two slaves on Martinique are sent to another island to bring back the slaves the French Fathers think they own while the island is English now. Sounds like nothing could go wrong, right? Nothing fishy at all at sending two slaves to silently invite slaves to move islands.
Lucien and his brother Emile are the ones that are tasked with this, and Lucien is the one telling the story of these few days. He does so in a mix of English, French and Creole, which works well with their surroundings and situation.
The only gripe I have with the story only being about this one event, is that as the reader you feel slightly dropped into someone’s lives and left behind when you (probably) only want to learn more. Maybe Jane Harris should have gone with a bit more creative freedom there. But what she writes, she writes appealingly.
Sugar Money, Jane Harris, Faber & Faber 2017
When I woke up that morning, it was still pretty early.
I didn’t know there was a book before the film. Now I know the story, I’m … going to skip the film. There are amounts of pain/trauma you don’t want to go through twice. See also: The Green Mile.
Lean on Pete is a horse, but it’s Charley’s story, and it’s a collection of miseries. Charley and his little-good father move through the USA to wherever work is, his mother is mostly unknown and there’s never enough money, furniture or food.
Because his father disappears from time to time, and it’s the summer holiday anyway, Charley (15 years old) goes looking for a job. He finds one in taking care of race horses, with a dodgy fellow, because those seem to be the only kind in his life.
The story is hailed for being Americana, humane, a slice of life and so on, but for a large amount of time it is just sadness upon badness upon abuse. Don’t mistake this book to be something for horse fans, either.
The only reason I’d call this a summer read because in winter there isn’t even nice weather outside to distract you from the shit luck Charley has, again and again. Yes, all of it is nicely written, but just consider the sacrifice of happiness.
Lean on Pete, Willy Vlautin, Faber and Faber 2010
It was the happiest moment of my life, though I didn’t know it.
Not for this story, but my opinion on it. A Nobel Prize winning author it may be, a deep, emotional romance in the loved city of Istanbul it may be, I only found egoism and sexism, with a dollop of patronizing ideas towards women.
The male main character starts an affair with a much younger, and poorer woman when he’s engaged to a nice, intelligent woman of his age and social standards. He steamrolls his mistress into many things, while not giving anything in return, only to throw a tantrum in any way but yelling when she disappears after his engagement party. There’s moping, pouting, dramatic thoughts and work-omitting behaviour. But don’t view it as that, he all has to do that because he’s so in love!
This goes on for years and years. Whenever there’s an interesting look into (high) society in Turkey of the seventies and eighties, the lens is turned back to the ever-suffering man. How dare she, how dare his mother worry, how dare his brother ask to come to work again, and so on, and so on. After eight years things turn in his direction again, but still there’s the woe-is-me tone.
An exhausting, frustrating novel that is interesting for about 10% of its pages: whenever Kemal Bey deigns to show a look at the world around him, instead of the one inside of his head.
The Museum of Innocence, Orhan Pamuk, Faber and Faber 2009
Skippy and Ruprecht are having a doughnut-eating race when Skippy turns purple and falls off his chair.
You could say that this is the school/teenager version of Everything I Never Told You: someone dies, the reader learns about all the lives connected to and entwined with the death character.
But that would ignore a large number of differences, so let’s just keep the second part of the sentence. Skippy’s dying isn’t a large part of Skippy Dies, really.
The reader moves around Seabrook College, following some of the students and staff. Male teenagers of every age, with the familiar (male) teenage problems.
But there’s never just one dimension when there’s humans involved, and Paul Murray slowly peels away all the layers. Illnesses, abuse, shame, and is the reader supposed to change their judgment of character because of them or not? What does that say about our view of the world?
Of course there’s coolness, girls and futures to worry about as well. The characters are frustratingly human, rooting for them sometimes only possible because of how the story moves them.
I finished the book with a final sprint of the last 200 pages and am still a bit subdued. Skippy Dies isn’t a 600 page sob story about the decline of the (educational) world, but it definitely does remind you of all the sides of a person we never/barely see, yet shouldn’t forget about.
Skippy Dies, Paul Murray, Faber and Faber 2010
Slowly I’m changing my mind about collected (short) stories.For a long time I thought the short story was for the writer that couldn’t come up for a novel-spanning plot, while these days it only shows that creating a good short story is tougher than filling x number of hundred of hundreds pages. The Nocturnes dip and fall, while still managing to leave some element of each story behind.
As the title tells us, all the stories are about music. Musicians, the influence music making or not making has on someone’s life. Some stories are shorter than others, which gives a strange extra experience – a cadence, maybe?
None of the stories are excessively bright gems, it’s more the entirety of the five that leaves a certain feeling behind. Do the characters mentioned need help, was the reader an active participant or was it really only about music?
For a short collection, and for starting readers of short collections, definitely something nice to read.
Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall, Kazuo Ishiguro, Faber and Faber 2009
I’m still a beginner when it comes to graphic novels, picture stories, illustrated stories for grown-ups or however you want to call it.
I started out with The Sandman Chronicles (beautiful, sad, terrifying) and ended with Saga (beautiful, hilarious, uncomfortable). Just like with “ordinary” comics, it’s hard to know where to start.
I picked Jar of Fools because of the cover and discovered it to be a picture story a few seconds later.
The story is sad, without color, with color, and a pale hope for something better. It’s appealing; find it and read it.
Jar of Fools, Jason Lutes, Faber and Faber 2008
In dit verslag kun je lezen waar Meadow en ik sinds onze verdwijning zijn geweest.
Hoe vaak zal het gebeuren, een vader die uit wanhoop zijn kind ontvoert na een scheiding? Dat een man en een vrouw zulke vreemdelingen van elkaar worden dat ze niet meer met elkaar kunnen communiceren?
Schroder is het verslag van een vader die op een dag besluit niet genoeg te nemen met de tijd die hij met zijn dochter mag doorbrengen. In plaats van een net afscheid aan het einde van de dag, gaat hij er van door met zijn dochter, voor een ‘kleine vakantie’.
Natuurlijk gaan hier allerlei dingen aan vooraf, overgoten met een groeiende wanhoop. De hoofdpersoon schuwt het zelfbeklag niet, maar heeft ook (soms pijnlijke) momenten van inzicht waardoor het alleen maar duidelijker wordt wat voor een fouten hij heeft gemaakt.
Schroder laat zien dat het niet alleen de moeder is die emotioneel en irrationeel kan worden door een scheiding en het gemis van kinderen. Hoofdpersoon Eric is niet het meest aantrekkelijkste karakter, maar hij is wel een mens.
Schroder, Amity Gaige, Faber and Faber 2013