Wednesday, May 04, 2011

april-may books

More books (sorry):
Cities of the Plain (Cormac McCarthy): The last of “The Border Trilogy” books. I’ve seen someone describe the books as a “coming-of-age story” and I think they’re probably right (certainly not a “traditional western” as I’ve also seen them described!). Idealism and optimism of youth set against the reality and harshness of the “real world”. I found them quite magical.
Lent for Everyone – St Matthew (Tom Wright): As the name suggests, I’ve been using this as my Lenten study book. Even though I’m not a great admirer of Tom Wright’s writings (having previously been irritated and disappointed by “Surprised by Hope”, for example), I did find some of his insights into St Matthew’s gospel quite helpful - and his Good Friday comments particularly powerful. I certainly enjoyed the discipline of the daily readings.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog (Muriel Barbery): I originally read this last Autumn, but I’ve just re-read it because it’s our Book Club’s latest book (even though I’m going to miss the meeting!) – and found it even more charming and uplifting this time round.
Will You take Me As I Am – Joni Mitchell’s Blue Period (Michelle Mercer): Mitchell’s “Blue” is probably my favourite album (if I was only allowed one, then it would be this one) - clearly, this could have something to do with it coinciding with my uni-days of the late 60s and early 70s (the album came out in 1971)! Despite its rather haughty attempts to contrast Mitchell’s writings with those of St Augustine of Hippo and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the book provides a fascinating (for me) background to the album – eg. going to live in the Matala Caves, Greece for a couple of years from Spring 1970, feeling somewhat “in crisis”. The book was published in 2009; Mercer’s not a brilliant writer, but the book’s well researched and informative. I adore Mitchell’s music but probably wouldn’t like her as a person (too much ego? selfish? arrogant?)… and I’d be much too boring to be her friend!
Editor (Max Hastings): I’ve long admired Hastings as a military journalist, but this is specifically a book about his time as the editor of “The Daily Telegraph” (not really my kind of newspaper!) between 1986 and 1995. Frankly, despite him not being quite as a right-wing as most of the Telegraph journalists he first inherited, the book shows him up to be a rather pompous, arrogant, wealth-seeking, old-fashioned Conservative who seems to pay scant regard to the real world or to the likes of you or me (somewhat outrageously describing the not-so-well-off as the “underclass” at one point!). Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating book (and very well written) – especially describing the political squabbles at the end of the Thatcher era and his less-than-complimentary views of the Prince of Wales.

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