Winter treats.

I have been quiet for a few months but be reassured… I am back.

I have been quite busy with my readings during the past few months. Here’s a little preview of the books I’ve read, reread, loved, liked, will never open again.

Ѵ Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. The summary on the back cover of the book suggests that the story you’re about to read is the story of the author BUT as the subtitle subtly corrects that false first impression, this book is well and truly a novel. The inconsistencies and incredible (as in you can NOT believe it) twists and turns will remind it to you constantly. None of the characters is real and its a shame because some of them are just adorable. You will tell me, it’s a work of fiction…of course the characters are not real..and I will answer…well I’ve been duped by the back of the book summary and believed it was a true story until half way through the book. The plot is inspired by what Roberts experienced during his trip to India. During the first 500 pages, I really enjoyed the book. I adored the painting the narrator was giving of India, its color, its savors, its so numerous different cultures coexisting more or  less pacifically, the cultural incomprehension between the Australian narrator and the Indians he was meeting and learning to love. It made me smiled, even laughed. Something was bothering me though. One of the recurrent themes seemed to be the narrator’s complaint about his past. He committed armed robberies. He was arrested and sent to jail. He escaped, first to New Zeland then to India. He never takes full responsibility for his actions, he doesn’t stop to really think about the consequences of his actions but keep blaming the system for having taken away his freedom. On and on the narrator whinges and complains about the feelings he felts in prison, how unfair it was, how nothing he had done was justifying the rapt of his freedom. After 600 pages, the story starts to become highly unrealistic. After living in a slum, opening a free clinic there, becoming the “son” of one of the Mafia Godfathers, the narrator is now in Afghanistan fighting the Holy war against the Russians. He gets shot at, bombed etc and he’s barely injured (it felt a bit like a Rambo movie). It literally makes you roll your eyes and say “yeah right”. I kept reading thought until the very last page (963) and I have to say,  I have mixed feelings about it. I’m quite sure this one won’t be reread anytime soon, or ever, but I’m glad I read this Australian best seller.

Ѵ The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman was a pure delight. The style is flowing, spellbinding and it’s a real page turner. The two central characters are total opposites but both walk the same path towards the reconstruction of their broken lives. 

Lamont Williams, recently released from jail ( for a crime he didn’t commit) works as a janitor in a Cancer Hospital. He needs to go through the six months probation period if he wants to have a chance to see his daughter again. He meets there an old man, Holocaust survivor. Not only will the man tell his story to Lamont but he makes him memorize the names, the dates in order to repeat it, as often as possible, so it will never be forgotten.

In parallel, the Australian/ American Historian Adam Zignelik, son of  well known Civil Rights lawyer, teacher at Columbia is about to lose his job after he lost his girlfriend. His world is crumbling, he seems to head toward alcoholism until one of his father’s friends asks him to investigate about the role of the black soldiers in the liberation of the death camps, including Auschwitz. This book is a must read, something that will leave you changed in some way. It made me want to read more about that historical period. Since one of my book clubs had it on its monthly selection, I also read…

Ѵ A Train in Winter by Caroline Morehead. Fabulous book about 50 women taken from different  French regions and sent to Auschwitz, most of them for being part of the Resistance. Amazing story about courage, resistance, surviving and friendship.

Ѵ Once on a Moonless Night by Dai Sijie was a reread. I read the English translation and didn’t like it when I absolutely adored it in its original version (French).

Ѵ Carrie by Stephen King was also a reread. Nothing better than a very familiar, all time favorite read for the 10th times. Everybody heard of the horrific, deep, fascinating story of the teenager Carrie White, her incredible power and her bottomless pain. If you’re looking for something that will kidnap your heart and haunt your nights, look no more, you’ve found it.

Ѵ The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman was a recommendation from a very close friend of mine.Since she has good taste, I sometimes listen to her and follow her advises. It was an easy read. I’ve heard of Neil Gaiman (who hasn’t ?)but I had never read anything of his before. I enjoyed it very much but I can not say I was much impressed by it. It left me lighthearted and smiling but it didn’t rock my world. A couple of very subjects are evoked but not developed (child abuse for example). In my opinion it lacks of deepness.

Ѵ A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof  by Tennessee Williams. a pleasure fron the first word to the last. A very deep and sensitive painting of the root of personal and collective misery. It shows how misery comes from frustration, impossibility to communicate with the one you love and dissimulation. Williams’s style is absolutely enchanting.

As I said…quite a busy winter !