|some recent books
||[Oct. 24th, 2010|10:20 am]
Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall - eh. I'm not so very excited about Tudor court history but I was hoping the strength of the writing would work for me, and Thomas Cromwell is a very interesting angle given his non-noble background. Loved the early stuff as Wolsey was falling and he was finding his place, but the later stuff and particular her portrayal of the Boleyns didn't work for me. Also super disappointed to hear she's writing a sequel - the gift of the book is that it ends in a place where you see all the elements of Cromwell's disaster starting to line up, but he doesn't.|
David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoot - love love love. I'm utterly convinced David Mitchell is a writer with a project, and it's delight to figure out what he's doing here. The book is jammed full of plot, some of it over the top plot, but nonetheless manages to be an eleoquent story about the possibilities of agency that never indulges itself in simplistic fantasies that heroism is the trick of it. Also very smart about colonialism and what that means for human relations. The final pages are absolutely gripping - I literally could not put it down. And a wonderful writing style that plays with an aesthetic sensibility that tries to capture place without falling into Orientalism. This was a winner.
Christina Garcia, The Lady Matador's Hotel. Picked it up at the library because I heard the tail end of a positive review on the radio, though a review that made it sound pretty twee. Very skeptical at the beginning, ending up finding it pretty great. The various points of view - the multiracial lady matador, the genocidal army officer, the suicidal Korean business man with the pregnant fifteen year old mistress, the revolutionary turned chambermaid all cross paths at a hotel in an unnamed Latin American city. Eloquent about grief and anger and death.
Lois Bujold, CryoBurn. Wanted to love it. Don't think I did. My favorite Bujold books are the ones where the plot drives a profound exploration of character. This one does not, particularly, since the Big Events go down in literally the last pages. You could argue that the child POV represents the place this happens most directly, and I don't think the book would have worked without Jin, but it's hard for his journey to hold weight against a character so well known from so many previous volumes. I did love the class politics in this one, which were perhaps more explicit than any of the previous. Nice to see Miles' privilege made so visible and consequential in multiple directions. So, dunno. Feels like a place holder in the same way Diplomatic Immunity was - I think the series needs something as shattering as Memory at this point. Maybe if there's another it will go that way, working through the consequences of this one. Still, I really enjoy even her lesser works - such a lovely combination of high humor, fantastic capers, and deep philosophical questions.
Up next: Freedom, How to Life Safely in a Scienficitonal Universe, the last Saramago (can't remember the name).