Sunday, September 03, 2006

What I've read on my travels

I'm back from spending a week in Poland, a trip occassioned by my husband's cousin's wedding. Books where brought and read. I also fried my brain by talking Polish a lot.

Alexander McCall Smith: The Full Cupboard of Life
This is the one in which J.L.B. Maketoni evades a parachute jump and he and Precious Ramotswe get married. And that about sums it up. Still heart-warming books!

Harper Lee:
To Kill A Mockingbird
I was recommended this by my good friend E, who sometimes comments on the blog. She is an editor so has to read a lot of shite for work, and said that it was a pleasure reading something so good. So mr Bani went and bought it and some other books (as is his wont), and I am pleased that he did, even though I despair at the state of our flat.

This is a classic story, and obviously I'd heard of it, but for some reason I'd always thought it was sort of a lad's book, sort of Hemingwayish. I will admit to not actually having read any Hemingway, for I am sorely prejudiced against him for some reason (the laddish themes I imagine his books have most likely), and I really should atone and go and immerse myself in his work right away.

Anyway, this is not a laddish book at all. It's a story about a lawyer in a small town in Alabama in the 1930s, who defends a black man accused of raping a white woman. The book is written from the point of view of his tomboyish daughter, who is about eight. A great part of the book does not concern itself with the trial at all, but tells about the girl's and her brother's childhood pastimes, and most of all their fascination with the next door recluse, Boo Radley. (This becomes important towards the end.) Harper Lee manages to show us the deep immorality of an apartheid system such as this, how it corrupts otherwise sane and reasonable people and poisons their souls. It's not always a case of telling people to feck off and stuff it, you may love them, respect them and like them even if they are beyond reason when it's a question of race. All this through the innocent eyes of a child - which leaves us with a feeling of hope, after all. I enjoyed it very much, and I'm glad I didn't read it earlier, as I think I actually appreciate it more now that I'm older.

Then I came home, and picked up the Ian Rankin novel I'd forgotten. I'd half finished it before the trip, and meant to bring it for the plane. Just as well that I forgot it, I had plenty to read anyway. This one is called A Question of Blood, and is about a shooting at a private school. One of the murdered boys is a relation of Rebus's, and the killer is ex-SAS, like himself.

It's not too bad, but I just can't take to Rebus. I have this feeling that Ian Rankin could've done a lot more with the character, but now he's just this maudlin alcoholic with a gift for punning. I can read it, but it doesn't really leave me wanting more. I only got this one because we went to this book-swapping day at mr Bani's colleague's house.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird! I felt the same way you did, that I wouldn't have enjoyed it half as much when I was younger.
The language is just lovely.

bani said...

I completely agree. You really feel like you're there, and you understand how they're reasoning.

HB said...

Jeg leste "Å drepe en sangfugl" da jeg var tenåring, mye fordi Tanita Tikaram (min heltinne på den tiden) anbefalte den i et intervju. Jeg likte den veldig godt! Men det er nok på tide å lese den en gang til, og denne gang på engelsk.

bani said...

Ååååhhh, jag gillade också Tanita Tikaram! :-)))

Ja, det är nog en bok som man gärna ska läsa på engelska, för sydstatskänslan.