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I have (as I said last Blogweek) a habit of going through spurts of reading. Over the last few years I have made my way through a number of books and genres.
A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving
I first read John Irving between school and college. My sister gave me her copy and I tried to start it and was put off by the first twenty of thirty pages which seemed little more than an irritating history. Being so fresh out of exams and learnng I was not in the right frame of mind and I seriously began to question my sisters judgement.
A few months later she asked me had I read it and I admitted defeat. She made me give it a second chance. I began to re read it and instantly began to enjoy it. The more I read the deeper I was sucked into the lives of these two best friends. OWEN MEANY is a short boy with a wrecked voice. His best friend John (the narrator) guides us through their adventures as children through teenage years and beyond. Their friendships is so strong that it survives the awful incident when OWEN is playing baseball and strikes a foul ball which accidentally kills John’s mother. The story is not just about their friendship but portrays a glimpse of a small new England town in the 1950s and 1960s. I never gave the copy back to my sister and it still sits close to me on my bookshelf to this day. So when I had the chance to sit in an audience where Mr. Irving record a radio interview some years ago I bought a copy of his latest. After the interview he was signing copies and I asked him to make it out to my sister.
We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver
A dark and brooding tale of a Mother’s alienation from her severely dysfunctional 17 year-old son. Written in the form of letters to her estranged husband, she tries to understand where their lives went wrong. So we are taken back to the beginning of their courtship and slowly the grim details of their lives and the lives of their family are unfold. Delivered in Lionel Shriver’s hypnotically personal style. You really feel like an intruder into their somewhat shallow lives and as the atmosphere thickens you wonder how it will ever end.
This one is not for the fainthearted.
Sebastian Barry has a beautiful writing style. His sentences melt into one another and you sigh at the end because you’ll never meet these characters again for the first time.
A psychiatrist Dr. Grene is drawn into the world of the oldest patient in his care Roseanne McNulty. Dr. Grene presides over the shutting down of Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital and begins to question the official reasons Roseanne was admitted and becomes more than intrigued to find out what really happened. Unfortunately the end of the book strays a little but Roseanne’s life is an extraordinary fabrication in the hands of Barry inspired, he tells us, from an off hand remark by a member of his family. He delivers a crisp flavour of 1920’s and 1930’s Ireland and it’s customs, habits and prejudices.
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
John Connolly is best known for his crime thrillers of which I have read none. But when somebody heard that I was interested in stories (films or books) that dealt with a blending of reality and fantasy they thrust the book into my hands.
Set in England during the Second World War, David’s close relationship with his mother is cut short by a terminal disease. His father meets and marries another woman. During this transition David begins to have blackouts where he has visions of another world of kings and a sinister crooked man. One night the two worlds collide and David finds himself in a Land filled with dark twisted adaptations of the fairy tales we know and love.
This is definitely a fantasy for grown ups (or at least for older teen to 90 year-olds+). If you like fantasy it would be a great holiday book. At times it can be a little predictable but overall the adventure is dark, witty and engaging.
Have you read any of these?
Do you agree or disagree?
If anyone has a good book to recommend please leave a comment.
Thanks for reading