Monday, 1 October 2012

American novels

I can’t get emotionally involved when England are playing ODI cricket and I haven’t found much interest in the current T20 world cup.  I expect I would have done if England had progressed but they didn’t and I suppose the end result will be a return for KP…  The test series in India will be more my thing, England will start as underdogs and going into an Ashes year I’d make Australia favourites for that right now.  We’ll see.

As usual I’ve been reading constantly and I’ve gone through a series of books by American writers.  I re-read “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas” by Hunter S. Thompson and enjoyed it as much as I did the first time around.  Mix drugs with a motor race, add more drugs and a DA’s narcotics convention then marinade in loads more drugs.  Manic, hilarious, mad, love it.

Norman Mailers’ “The Naked and the Dead” is billed as ‘the best war novel to come out of the United States’.  I’m not sure about that.  Set in the Philippines towards the end of World War 2 it charts the progress of a platoon of US marines through a campaign to capture an island from the Japanese.  I have mixed feelings about this book, it’s gritty and real and does not celebrate the ‘heroism’ of war but the narrative is constantly interrupted by flashbacks charting the protagonists pre-war lives.  If these flashbacks are designed to make the reader care about the characters then for me it failed and the book would have been a better read with these edited out.  Overall it’s a good enough read with some vivid descriptions of skirmishes and the author manages to convey the fears and suffering of the soldiers.

Last week I finished the classic “Catcher in the Rye” by J D Salinger.  This is the story of teenager Holden Caulfield who is from a life of privilege in New York society and has been thrown out of the state’s best schools.  Caulfield despises the world of wealth he dwells in and the story is of him undergoing some kind of mental breakdown.  The story is told in the first person but we never who he is telling his tale to.  The obvious guess is he’s talking to a counsellor of some kind.  Sorry but I didn’t find it very interesting and to me it is only a “classic” on the over-rated shelf.

Following “Skagboys”  I re-read a few of Irvine Welsh’s early books and I’ll type a bit about that another time, maybe.

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