Friday, 27 November 2015
Early on the villagers make the brilliant plan of killing the only people in the village with any kind of medical knowledge - the female herabists (aka, witches). You then begin to feel really grateful for modern medicine, as the villagers try and cure themselves by randomly eating various bits of leaves and bushes in the hopes that something will work. Big props to the Enlightenment, you guys. And big props also to Fleming, for the invention of antibiotics, which is still the only cure for the plague.
I enjoyed this book very much. However I struggled as I did with Brooks' MARCH that it works more as an interesting collation of research than exactly as a novel. There's a also a bit of challenge in how contemporary the characters feel. They are all busy enjoying roses and whatever, but I am quite sure that in reality the inner life of people of the seventeenth century was more along the lines of "it mislikes me not when the devil does be upon the bacon" or whatever: inscrutable historical weirdness.
Saturday, 14 November 2015
Ray Bradbury had a long life, and in the Forward he reflects on the book FIFTY YEARS after he wrote it. Apparently he finished it off in nine days in some kind of typewriter room in the local YMCA. Imagine living so long that you wrote a major book half a century ago? It gives me hope I've still got time. For what, I'm not quite sure.
Tuesday, 3 November 2015
Arthur Golden is a white American man writing about an Asian woman, so there will be a long line of people queuing up to complain that he's a cultural imperialist suppressing the voice of the Other, and etc etc. I'm tempted to Google it right now just to see how many million hits I get on the novel title + 'orientalist'. I am not one of these people. I think it's great when writers stretch beyond their own tiny experience to write the world; but good god you've got to do it well - and MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA: well, it's not so good. Not in my experience anyway, but then it did spend two years on the New York Times bestseller list, so what do I know. (Actually I just googled to find out how long it was on the list, and guess what: the author is part of the family that owns the New York Times. No wonder he finds it deeply exotic that someone might be poor).