Film and Writing (M.A)
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Book Review: "A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom" by John Boyne
Now, it's been a very long time since I have read anything by John Boyne and really, I have missed him a lot. A very long time ago, I read This House is Haunted and even longer before that I read the all-important The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. I knew he wrote other books but after checking the blurb of The Heart's Invisible Furies I was kind of put off seeing that he was writing soppy romance-based stuff now. Recently, I decided to put that aside and check out a book called The Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom and now, I'm stuck because I think that this is possibly one of the best books I've read this year and yet, there are some points that I am really not getting about it. I am stuck on a very divisive fence.
Book Review: "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt.
The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is one of the most prestigious awards in fiction writing and honestly, there have been some amazing winners in the past including: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Empire Falls by Richard Russo, The Hours by Michael Cunningham and a whole bunch of others. Now that I've mentioned these alone, you can kind of see a common theme of emotional depth of character, intense descriptions and atmospheres, simplistic plots that overwhelm and intensify as the book goes on. That's all well and good and possibly some of the criteria for winning the award. Unfortunately, I cannot say that I understand entirely how The Goldfinch was chosen to stand next to these. With hardly any character development and clichés at every corner, The Goldfinch proves that its prose is a good start that turns into a bunch of washy nonsense as the book goes on.
Book Review: "Nocturnes" by Kazuo Ishiguro
There is no doubt about the fact that Kazuo Ishiguro is possibly one of the greatest writers of the 20th/21st centuries and that he has contributed to the evolution of modern literature in countless ways with his magnum opus Remains of the Day which has since become a classic British Novel and his book of dystopia, Never Let Me Go. He has also written some absolutely incredible books, some I have read more recently than others including, but not limited to: A Pale View of the Hills, The Unconsoled and, the intensely beautiful An Artist of the Floating World. Kazuo Ishiguro returned to the awe-inspiring emotionla dystopia he had created in Never Let Me Go to write his latest novel, Klara and the Sun which, in my opinion, was absolutely brilliant. I simply cannot wait to see what the Nobel Prize for Literature winner does next. But for now, this review is about his book: Nocturnes.
Book Review: "A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters" by Julian Barnes
As you probably know already, Julian Barnes is one of my favourite authors ever. My favourite book by him was Arthur and George before his epic The Man in the Red Coat came out and then, that was my favourite. Julian Barnes has a very particular way of writing, with a strange sense of humour, a brave social critique and often characters who are going through the depths of emotional or existential turmoil, even Julian Barnes' short stories have and intense impact on the soul. The most recent Julian Barnes book I have read was called The Lemon Table and it was a book of short sotries. It was absolutely fantastic. Now that I'm engaging in more of his short stories - I can honestly say that this man can pretty much write anything well.
Book Review: "The Finkler Question" by Howard Jacobson
It's been many years since I read a book by Howard Jacobson, well - about six years really. I read his book Shylock Is My Name when it first came out in 2016 and I remember being absolutely engrossed in it from start to finish. I cannot imagine why I did not pick up another book by him until now, in 2022. The Finkler Question is a really heartfelt novel that kind of reminds me of things written by Julian Barnes. It's got such an incredible amount of emotion between the characters and, from start to finish, is an achievement of character development, identity discovery and a larger critique on human natures of desire, love and death.
Book Review: "Reading in the Dark" by Seamus Deane
I have never heard of this book in my life, I simply found it at the library and thought it would be something good to read. I did not look at the blurb or the cover really but instead, paid attention to why it was called Reading in the Dark. I too, like to read in the cover of darkness with maybe a small lamp (it would probably explain my terrible eyesight too). One thing I found out whilst exploring this book is that the stories within are each connected to various ideas of life, learning, poverty, death, art and the list goes on. Each a philosophical realisation, each a very realistic picture of the lives of those we sometimes forget. This book may not have been what I thought it was going to be about, but it has really opened my eyes to a brand new aspect of Irish Literature.
Book Review: "Mikhail and Margarita" by Julie Lekstrom Himes
I have to admit, I read Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita over ten years' ago now - it has been an awfully long time. I have seen it here and there but since, I have focused my strengths with Bulgakov on his other novels such as Heart of a Dog - which I would have to say is possibly my favourite by him. This book is a slice of history which I really did not know about before - I had heard of what happened in not a lot of detail, but to learn all of this information puts his career into a lot more context than it once did. It also puts into context the tyranny of the Soviet Union and the lengths that they really went to when it came to silencing people that they did not deem friendly to the state.
Book Review: "The Unconsoled" by Kazuo Ishiguro
Kazuo Ishiguro is an amazing writer. When I was younger, I read books by him including Never Let Me Go, Remains of the Day and The Buried Giant. - I've loved reading Ishiguro's books because of his presentation of human nature both good and bad. He has a way of giving each character he creates and insane amount of goodness in order to create a connection with the reader, but then again they can also go to the darker, deeper aspects of humanity that are not such good attributes to have. His last book to do this, I would say was Klara and the Sun in which he demonstrated the good and bad in the responses from human to AI. Ishiguro went above and beyond in order to give us a window to what our own humanity could possibly become. In An Artist of the Floating World he does this once again - the light and the dark both come through the characters and their actions. In The Unconsoled, Ishiguro repeats this once again, but with a discomfort that some critics have still not been able to shake because of the madness of the writing style.
Book Review: "Suttree" by Cormac McCarthy
Cormac McCarthy is an absolutely brilliant author with some great literature from over the course of more than forty years of writing. His book All the Pretty Horses is in my own favourite books of all time list and I have read many others by him too. I was recommended the book Suttree - a book by Cormac McCarthy I hadn't really heard of before and I was immediately excited about it. Online reviews stated that it was written in the style of William Faulkner and seeing as William Faulkner is one of my favourite writers of all time - I didn't imagine that this book could do any wrong for me. Though, be that as it may, I held off judgement until I had read the book. And it was amazing.
Book Review: "The Lemon Table" by Julian Barnes
I've read quite a bit of Julian Barnes in my time. My favourite Julian Barnes book is obviously The Man in the Red Coat because it's all about one of the most fascinating cultural movements in artistic history - the Belle Epoque. The Man in the Red Coat really does showcase the beauty of Julian Barnes' prose, as we also see in some of his other works, notably The Sense of an Ending. But, as I'm reading The Lemon Table I'm starting to discover that maybe I don't know him as a writer as well as I thought. I have been left in a very positive state of confusion by these stories and I couldn't be happier about it. Of course, it's heavily descriptive, it's mundane and not a lot happens at all - it's definitely my kind of book.
Book Review: "Red Dog" by Louis de Bernieres
Another Louis de Bernieres novel so soon? Of course. But this one is a lot shorter and I only found it because I was trying to get another book. Honestly, I was quite surprised at this book because it's different to the two de Bernieres novels I have already read. Over a decade ago I read Captain Corelli's Mandolin and as recent as a couple of days ago, I finished Birds Without Wings. One thing I've noticed about Louis de Bernieres novels is that he will always attempt to emotionally attach you to something, whether it be a cause or an idea and then, he will subvert it. For example: in Birds Without Wings, we have a very clear idea of the fact that we are supposed to like certain characters over others, but this is subverted later on in the book - not so that we do not like them anymore, but just so that we think about our opinions of them, formed throughout the course of the book. I think a similar thing can be said about Red Dog. So let's get into the review...
"Absalom, Absalom!" by William Faulkner
This is by far one of my favourite books of all time and definitely in my personal top five when it comes to American Fiction. It is an excellent novel to read in order to learn about power dynamics and the way in which power can go to a man's head very quickly and come crashing down around him. A definite plus when you are living through a constantly changing world.