As Autumn rolls in at full strength and everything gets colder, it’s nice to curl up with a book.
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
The second book in the MaddAddam trilogy is a brilliant book that explores a corrupt and violent world within the limits of our own. The science and captailist corps are close enough to our reality that it makes you uncomfortable. With Ren and Toby as the narrators, we gain a view of the world from the dance clubs, Secretburgers and Gods Garderners; all levels of this broken society. The gene slicing, animal and human experimentation and mass extinction help pull the reader into a world that is not quite science fiction. The book almost seems like a warning, as the book engages the reader in a world we wish no connection to.
The Dead by James Joyce
The commentary on Irish politics through Joyce’s prediction of what his life would have been like if he had stayed in Ireland is a short story that reveals more and more layers with each reading. On first impression the reader might just take the events of the party and those between Gabriel and Gretta to be simple, but Joyce cleverly explores through subtly a range of themes. As the weather starts turning The Dead is a great short story to read on a chilly afternoon.
The Piers Falls by Mark Haddon
After attending an event that involved Mark Haddon in conversation, I brought the book and tore through the short stories that in turn tore through me. Each story is brutal in itself and even he pointed out that there is a death in all but the last. Opening with a story about the collapse of Brighton Pier and aftermath of tragedy, the reader is pulled into the book and is forced to watch tragedy and chaos throughout the stories. It feels like watching a car crash and probably isn’t the best thing to read before bed if you’re wanting to go to sleep easily.
Dubliners by James Joyce
After reading The Dead on its own, I brought the whole collection. The collection captures life in Dublin wonderfully and the bare bones of humanity in it’s characters. The stories may lack climax but all being a revelation to the characters in Joyce’s classic style. It’s a good collection to read that covers a range of stories and themes. The stories are the perfect length to read inbetween tasks to make the day more interesting.
The night rolled in with the mist that advanced from the fields. Smothering the stars and spraying the street lamps’ light through the night. The sun disappeared quietly without burning the sky for the moment. A match in the sky put out by the damp night. A cold feeling was covering the town carried in by the wind. It was the perfect setting for anything odd or unusual to occur.
However Ralph slept through the night, without anything disturbing the quiet of his sleep. The only noise to be heard were the deep snores that rattled around the room with every exhale. Nothing of interest occurred at all that night, except Mrs Claught won £50 at bingo.
Tomorrow, Ralph was walking home in the long rays the sun threw over the world, as it turned away from its light and attention. No mist had descended or risen, and it was warm for the time of year. There was movement in the corner of his eye. A man with long white hair was looking straight at him. A cold fever broke out across every one of his nerves.
Does the rabbit know it’s going to die when it makes eye contact with the fox? It sees the light hit the fox’s eye at such an angle that is knows it cannot escape, but yet biology and evolution still force it to run. Life clings to itself with an unmeasurable desperation. Death just watches the hopeless struggle of self-preservation. Every creature knows death even if it cannot understand the magnitude of nothingness for eternity. However as apes that learnt to walk, do humans see death the same as the rest of creation? Does a man look upon a car and see a chariot with two marching figures and know his time has come? The recognition of an event foretold send an icy wave down the spine, to be followed by an infinite feeling of emptiness. The soul becoming clammy to the idea and the touch of a skeletal hand.
Ralph knew when he saw this man he was going to die.
Mainly because it was Mr Gratton who’d died last year.
Even in his cynical mind, he was able to take Mr Gratton as a death omen. He started running. Panic spurring his legs like pistons to the feet. He kept looking back to see the old man walking closer. Without the characteristic slouch and slow shuffle of when the man was alive. He seemed taller with his head held high and straightened spine, walking like a king of the dead. Mr Gratton’s mouth kept moving with silence. His tight lips moving in the gloam of his own life. The same voice that tells the rabbit to run gave Ralph the same command.
He tripped over the pavement as it buckled, rose and dived thanks to the poor quality of the repaving. Mr Gratton was just behind him. He rolled over to face the dead man that looked haggard by the light that shone through his frail form.
The holiday season where everyone flocks to pools and beaches and sits reading in the sun. I spent the summer racing around exploring so a moments rest with a book is a little treat
Passage to India by E. M. Forster
Forster’s praised novel describes the tension between races in colonial India. The story centres around the accusation of assault of Miss Quested. Full of beautiful descriptions that hide the problems of the Anglo-India until they are brought to light through the case of the alleged assault. The story starts slow but speeds up the slightest as tensions rise.
Of love and other demons by Gabriel Garcia Márquez
The range of interesting and unusual chatacters in this book take a plot to make it a stunning story. Sierra Maria alone is a fascinating character before she is bitten by rabid dog. With the surrounding characters of her parents and everyone at Santa Cayetano that all seem both brilliant works of fiction and entirely human making the story both tied to and removed from reality. It is here in the middle of both states that the story thrives and shows the reader an unforgettable plot.
A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy by Laurence Sterne
Sterne raises some perceptive ideas about travellers and human life but seems more focused on the women he meets, all of whom seem to be interested or at least attracted to him. The journey mainly occurs in Paris with little of Italy featuring. It’s not a long read but Sterne’s ideas are lost in the account of flirting that undermine them.
Cats Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut’s narrative of the end of the world seems a fitting read in today’s world. The pursuit of Ice-nine created by Dr Felix Hoenikker, a father of the atomic bomb, leading to three unique children and the island of San Lorenzo is a comical narrative of the bare bones of humanity. The narrator Jonah guides the reader through the basics of Bokononism. A religion founded on lies that sounds rather pleasant. The story that takes place under the threat of Nuclear war in the Cold War, seems to fit perfectly with today, almost highlighting that humans don’t really change.
Holidays start and so everyone cracks open the books they’ve been waiting to read.
The Death Cure by James Dashner
The final installment in the Maze Runner series that both packs in tragedy but also feels like a soft ending. As the tragedy of the flare affects the characters leading to even more death and suffering. The end is both a relief but also an anticlimax as Thomas and others reach the end of there fight. With the darker plot line of Newt, one expects a deeper end than just final freedom of everyone into a paradise.
Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez
The surreal account of a village’s actions leading up to the murder of a man oddly has the feel of an ancient Greek tragedy as fate and the inescapable nature of it seem to soak into every sentence. The narrative of the brutal and preventable death makes the story a great read.
Forever Odd by Dean Kootz
The sequel to Odd Thomas set in the hot town of Pico Mundo. When Odds friend Dan is kidnapped after his father’s death, Odd is thrown into a hunting mission designed to test him created by a woman so mad and blood thirsty that she seems to be the goddess Kali in Odds thoughts. Varying from the first book, this is an engaging read that explains the world of the ghosts and psychic magnetism that surround Odd.
Brother Odd by Dean Kootz
Third in the Odd series, Odd now spends his days in a monastery far from his home town. As snow and bodachs surround the place, Odd is thrown into solving a mystery that involves monsters of bone and murder. The bodachs fascination with the children builds the tension as the story grows to a battle of monks with baseball bats, a Russian with the grim reaper appearing. Among the sadness the reader can take joy in Elvis and his comical ways. A great read leaving you wanting more.
The Green Mile by Stephen King
Paul’s record of his last year working on death row follows the life of Mr Jingles and the death of Coffey. The sad but twisting narrative moves away from the readers expectations to create a story of good, miracles and death. With a range of interesting characters that cover the scale of good and bad, and innocent to guilty, the 6 parts chronicle a tale that leaves the reader in a state of disbelief and a strange collection of emotions. A brilliant read but one that tears through your heart.
“We shouldn’t have done this.” She said, her voice strong and steady.
Her hands shook as they tried to light a cigarette. They were pale and tinged blue in the low light.
The bedside lamp through weak light around the room from over her shoulder. The yellow shades dusted her bare shoulders where her tatty cardigan had fallen down. Thin straps of her vest stopped the full image of her back. Freckles and small moles interrupted the smooth paleness of her skin. Marble with dark flecks rather than blue veins. Her dark hair covered her neck and gently touched her shoulders. The cigarette finally caught and she pulled in a deep breath of smoke and toxins. They calmed her and her nerves.
The sheet pooled around her. She had pulled it over her lap trying to create fake innocence after. He was lying down behind her. He could still see the lace band of her underwear. His dark, lust eyes focused on the shape of her body under perfect skin rather than her words.
“We shouldn’t have done this” she repeated.
The silence of room followed her words. She just loosely clutched the cigarette. Its white body turning ashen grey as a small ring of burning was pulled down the tower. Smoke hung around her mouth as she exhaled, hovering as though it was still being fuelled by her presence. She exhaled sharply through her nose making smokey streams.
“Aren’t you listening to me?” She turned to face him.
Anger and nervousness her perfume. Her brown doe eyes looked at him, both challenging him for an answer and fearing it. Her pink lips had lost the bright colour that lipstick had applied earlier. Smudged dark eye make-up framed her eyes standing out her marble skin. She licked her lips in nervous habit.
“It’s too late anyway.” He said using his rusty vocal chords. She looked down, frowning. He hadn’t given the answer she wanted.
“We’ve done it, we can’t undo it.” He added.
She stood up, her restlessness consuming her. Her hands fell loose to her sides, cigarette glowing but on its last legs. She glared at him looking for something that she did not find. A sigh escaped her lips and her form deflated. He just kept running his eyes over her bare form. Her bare legs that shone gently in the pale light. They were cold as the room lacked warmth. A window was cracked open on a latch to allow smoke to drift into the world. She wandered over to it and peeked behind the thin netting to glimpse the outside world. It was dark outside. The street lights over powered the stars. Only artificial brightness filled the world.
“What are we going to do?” She asked.
“Do? We’re not going to do anything?” He spat, sitting up, blocking the light. Casting a large shadow over the wall to her left.
“We’ve done this. You can’t undo what’s been done.” He ranted.
She turned away from his anger to look at the blood stain shirts on the floor. Too red, so that they would never be white and pure again. Always stained by the blood that would crackle if she reached out and grabbed the shirt.
“The two of us did this. So the two of us must live with it.” He said before slumping back.
She just kept staring at the bloody spots, forming patterns and connections. Her mind was screaming silently as her skin crawled. She pulled out another cigarette with shaky hands and lit it.