Thursday, 2 June 2011

Satire & Stuff

Great Apes by Will Self

Will Self, writer & drug user turned TV 'personality'. A controversial figure that I kind of warm to but I'd never got around to reading one of his books until a friend lent me “Great Apes”. This book is a satire in which a drug using artist, 'Simon Dykes' awakes to find that Chimpanzees are the self aware life form at top of the food chain and humans act as Chimps do in the real world. Simon thinks he is a human and he is helped to rediscover his 'chimphood' by an egotistical psychiatrist named 'Zack Busner' .

For me the best theme in this novel is Self's attack on the chic, artistic 'in crowd' that inhabit trendy London. I despise this kind of self obsessed person so enjoyed the authors assault on them. Other than that I found the book repetitive and a little hard to follow at times. For me this book did not suspend my disbelief, the premise was just too fantastic to ever work. It meandered to a conclusion and got there long after I was tired of it.

This one didn't work for me

Solar by Ian McEwan

I was wandering around 'Waterstones' looking for something new to read and found this. I'd previously enjoyed reading 'Atonement' so thought “what the hell?” and stumped up the cash.

Solar is a satirical novel charting of the later life of Nobel prize winning physicist Michael Beard. Since winning his prestigious award in the seventies Beard has used it as a meal ticket ever since. The main protagonist is not a very nice man; a gluttonous, womanising alcoholic who is not adverse to deception on a grand scale. McEwan finds humour in the chaos of Michael Beards life and also sends up “Blair's Britain” as well as the whole global warming debate. The author evidently doesn't like using chapters to punctuate his writing which makes it awkward to read at times. He also occasionally insists on using over long sentences full of commas and “ands” which I find arrogant, as if he is above the conventions of the English language, (Hemmingway was also guilty of the same sin at times).

That aside, 'Solar' is a good read which made me smile and chuckle to myself. Unlike 'Great Apes', McEwan's novel is a satire that works. At the end of the story, Michael Beard's chickens all come home to roost as his life descends into hilarious farce. The end may be slightly predictable but is wholly satisfying.

Thumbs up! Enjoyed this one.

Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

I didn't mean to read another Potter book quite so soon but a lack of alternatives at the time meant the only other choice book. What can I say...I'm really glad I picked this one up!

The fourth book in the series tears up the formula and throws it up in the air like confetti, year four at Hogwarts sees some big changes. Maybe JK Rowling was financially secure enough at this point that she dared take the risk? No matter, the Goblet of fire is longer, deeper and darker than any of its predecessors. Rowling has acknowledged that her readers are growing up and has delivered a proper adult novel for them. Yes all the favourite characters and things that make a Potter book are still there but so much more besides. As usual the story begins in a light hearted manner but the appearance of 'The Dark mark' brushes all of that aside. From here on in the reader knows he/she will have a different Harry Potter experience than they have become accustomed to. New characters, new competitions, more mysteries and greater suspicions. The stakes are higher now and the risks seem more real. The further one reads, the quicker one wants to read. The climax is gripping, chilling and unexpected. You're left wanting to pick up the next book straight away.

The best of the series so far! This is not a 'childrens' book!

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