Tuesday, June 07, 2016

may-june 2016 books…

More book stuff:
The Village Cricket Match (John Parker): I must have read this book three or four times since I bought it in 1979… but I thought it was about time I read it again (it is the cricket season afterall!). Actually, it’s probably more than 20 years since I last read it… my memory of the book was that I liked its predictability, its familiarity and the cricketing memories that it evoked – a bit like sporting comfort food! It’s full of descriptions of the preparations, routines and typical characters involved in a typical Sunday afternoon cricket match in an English village. Somewhat surprisingly, perhaps (for me, at least!), I found myself getting quite irritated by the affectionate, enthusiastic, almost sugary, prose (written in the 1970s, but it felt as it could have been written 50 years earlier) – and it frequently seemed as if I was reading a story from one of my boyhood comics. My book is on its very last legs (its pages are about to fall out)… so I suspect this might be the last time I read it. Definitely not a literary classic, but hey!
Occupied Territories (Garth Hewitt): Garth Hewitt is the founder of the Amos Trust (“a small, creative Christian human rights agency that works with vibrant grassroots partners around the world”). I briefly acted as one of its volunteers at Greenbelt perhaps 10 years ago and again met Garth and his wife Gill on Iona in 2012 when they attended a conference to discuss the division of the West Bank, the encroachment of Israeli settlements and the impact on the lives of Palestinians. I bought this book when I attended an evening organised by Kairos Palestine in Bristol in mid-May 2016. Specifically, the book talks about the occupied city of Bethlehem (and now surrounded by a wall that reaches 25 feet high). It’s an incredibly impressive book which bluntly describes life in the occupied West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. It talks about a non-violent response to the current, depressing situation – one that is both pro-Palestinian AND pro-Israeli; and one that reflects the views and advice from Jewish and Muslim individuals who have committed themselves to stand for justice. Again and again, I found myself underlining passages from the book (frequently quotes from prominent academics, politicians or church leaders)(I’ve put some of them together in this blog post). Thought-provoking and challenging.
And Still I Rise (Maya Angelou): This is a book of some of Angelou’s poems… she definitely had a way with words! She wrote with such wisdom and courage, but also with wit and generosity. This is lovely book – which I’ll no doubt read again and again over the years – which is both accessible and challenging. Reading her words, you can almost hear her performing her poetry.
A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess): Like most people, I suspect, I’ve seen the film… but I’d never read the book (published in 1962) until now. It’s a shocking, frightening book about a subculture of extreme youth violence. It’s set in the “near future” (could the future be now?!) and the book’s teenage protagonist, Alex, narrates his violent exploits and his experiences with state authorities intent on reforming him. Alex’s confessions are written in “nadsat” (a secret language), which makes the book quite difficult to read… and yet I found it was a bit like reading/hearing a Shakespeare play – once your brain had adapted to the strangeness of the language, it was relatively easy to follow. It’s brilliantly inventive, but the violent subject matter makes for uncomfortable reading. Very impressive nevertheless.
The Case Of The Late Pig (Margery Allingham): Some light summer reading… my first “classic crime” novel by Margery Allingham (first published in 1937)… and, therefore, my first of her books featuring detective Albert Campion in the leading role. Campion’s somewhat mysterious world is very much that of upper-class England – marginally watered-down by the fact that he is aided in his work by his manservant Lugg (somewhat uncouth and with a background in burglary!). This short novel was enjoyable, but certainly not particularly remarkable or notable. I have to say, I wasn’t particularly “taken” by Campion as a character, but perhaps I need to read more of his adventures before being able to make a valid judgement?

No comments: