Well, some of them are treasures…
Just in case you thought the “struggle against violent extremism” and such has taken over completely, I thought I had better get back to books.
Greg Iles The Footprints of God (Coronet 2004) is a thriller, somewhat in Dan Brown territory (and you know what I think of him.) However, I have to say I did enjoy this book. The writing is better than average, the thriller ingredients well deployed, and the characters are more than cardboard cutouts. There is also some fascinating science underlying it all, and, I am happy to say, a politics somewhat to the left, for an American. Recommended.
Domenic Stansberry Chasing the Dragon (St Martins 2004) is a total waste of paper and ink, on the other hand. Trashy doesn’t do justice to this thin parade of stereotypes, cliches, and limp writing in Noddy-complex sentences for the literacy-challenged. Don’t go there. A thriller without thrills, and characters you really care nothing about. “Stansberry’s prose is simple and descriptive; it’s also exceptionally evocative.” I must have read a different Domenic.
Sorry, didn’t bother finishing a different Domenic…
Jay Verney Percussion (UQP 2004) is on the other hand a good reading experience. It has humour, depth, razor-sharp observation of people, cultures, and places, and really grew on me as I read.
Penier Bay (the locals call it Pineapple Bay) is a town which seems in need of recovery. It is a town of conflict, of alcoholics and of oppressive heat. Tension bubbles beneath the surface incessantly. Yet perhaps Pineapple is more real than the places Anna Maher visits with her mother Maggie and grandmother Veronica in the United States. There they attend a veterans’ reunion and watch Veronica’s elderly friends avoiding the inevitability of death. Maggie, suggests that in Pineapple Bay living and dying were far cheaper achievements and… funerals were certainly nothing like the rituals of show-and-tell engaged in by the American death industry.
The description of America’s Sodom, Las Vegas, is both tragic and funny. I find the book is a healthy dose of Aussie salts to purge the excess of the American dream, probably more necessary now than ever.
Finally, what can I say about Peru’s Mario Vargas Llosa (pic on right) The Feast of the Goat (Faber & Faber 2002), an evocation of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina, dictator of the Dominican Republic, except “brilliant”? Which it is. I am still reading it and will be sorry when I have finished. See also Wikipedia on the novel.
The pic comes from Scriptorium’s The Modern Word, a most interesting site.