Sunday, 14 February 2016

Epics

I've read a few of James Elroy's books and enjoyed them but it took me a while to get round to reading "Perfidia".  This is story is set in Los Angeles in December 1941 at the moment when Japan bombs Pearl Harbour and USA enters the war.  It begins with a murder and spirals into chaos, corruption, violence, politics and racism.
At over 700 pages this is a long book but it is entertaining and easy to read but I struggled to keep up with all the characters and everything that was going on.  I usually find the whole sex, drugs, violence thing entertaining in fiction but in Perfidia there's just too much.  For me it is over the top and unconvincing.  I wonder if LA really was that corrupt back then?  Maybe it still is.  Page after page of short stark sentences don't make an easy read if not a pleasurable one. Perfidia is OK but not great.

Another long book is "Matterhorn" by Karl Marlantes.  Set in the Vietnam war it is written by a veteran so feels authentic.  It tells the story of  Mellas, a young, naive lieutenant and his comrades in Bravo company who are thrown into thick, deep shit of this most ridiculous of conflicts.   This war finished over forty years ago and many people won't be aware of what a pointless bloodbath it was, like Iraq/Afghanistan only much worse.  Like these more recent wars it saw politicians trading innocent lives for corrupt political ideals.

From start to finish it is completely believable, the scenes are vivid and the reader can almost feel the heat of the jungle.  The battle scenes are exhilarating and heart thumping, I really cared about the characters and at times the fictional deaths were very sad.  When out in the wilds every minute of the marines life was dangerous, if the NVA didn't get them then the jungle itself might.  The madness of war is captured too with career officers putting higher stall on their own advancement than the lives of the troops they command.

Matterhorn is over 600 pages long but I could happily have read another 600, it really is an excellent book.  When the story finishes Mellas' tour is not even halfway through so maybe we will get to read a sequel some time in the future?  I hope so.

The ODI series between England and South Africa has been pretty epic too.  England began with two good wins inspired by Joss Buttler then SA came back with a good win of their own.  The fourth match looked like it was going England's way which would have sealed the series but poor fielding and good batting from Morris snatched the win away for the Saffers leaving the series squared at 2-2 with one to play.  The final match was an anti climax, with the exception of Alex Hales, England batted poorly, didn't get enough runs and South Africa won at a canter.
England will be disappointed they didn't win this series as they will feel they are the better team.  We can take encouragement from the fact that this squad is very much a work in progress and could go on to great things.


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