Friday, June 29, 2012

may/june books

Strangely, I read far less on Iona than I usually do (perhaps my top bunk bed didn’t quite suit my reading habits?):
The Hidden Roads (Kevin Crossley-Holland): Essentially, this is a memoir of middle-class childhood of the 1940s+50s in England. Evocative, poignant and funny. The book initially caught my eye when I saw that Crossley-Holland had been largely brought up at Whiteleaf in the Chiltern Hills – not very far from where we lived in Thame.
Echoes of Memory (John O’Donohue): I love O’Donohue’s writing and this collection of poems – essentially exploring themes of love+loss, beginnings+endings - is just beautiful.
Iona (Kenneth C Steven): Steven has a long association with the west coast of Scotland – and Iona in particular. This short book contains just over 50 poems. He has a very simple, direct style and a lyrical quality that perfectly captures the character of the island and the surrounding area.
The Hungered One (Ed Bullins): This is a collection of short stories from the USA of the late 1960s/early 70s – exploring loneliness and despair (especially in connection with the youth of Black USA at the time). I have to say, I really struggled with it (the style? the subject matter?) and probably should have just put it aside rather than persevering until the end. People apparently talk about Bullins as being a “groundbreaking and historically significant writer” – but, apart from brief glimpses, he didn’t do anything for me I’m afraid.
The Cellist of Sarajevo (Steven Galloway): This is a simply beautiful book. It’s a powerful novel which tracks the lives of three individuals during the horrific Siege of Sarajevo (April 92-February 96). It’s about the human spirit, dignity, grace, civility, pride and a refusal to sink to the inhuman depths of the main protagonists of a war that shamed so many individuals and governments.

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