Sunday, 31 July 2016

What I've been reading

Image of the book cover

Master and Commander
by Patrick O'Brian
"It is the dawn of the 19th century; Jack Aubrey, a young lieutenant in Nelson's navy, has been promoted to captain, and inherits command of HMS Sophie. A brave and gifted seaman, Aubrey's thirst for adventure and glory is satisfied as he embarks on thrilling battles with his crew."
A very good book that I must have read before, but don't remember at all. Of course I only understand a fraction of the sailing terminology but it doesn't seem to matter - a bit like Shakespeare, the sense of it comes across somehow. I've got some C. S. Forester waiting to be read, and it will be an interesting comparison.

Image of the book cover

The Leopard
by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

narrated by David Horovitch
"The Leopard chronicles the turbulent transformation of the Risorgimento, in the period of Italian Unification. The waning feudal authority of the elegant and stately Prince of Salina is pitted against the materialistic cunning of Don Calogero, in Tomasi's magnificently descriptive memorial to a dying age."
This is one of the classic books I'm reading for my literary education. A bit like the Patrick O'Brian I only understand a fraction of it, but this time because it's all about 19th century Italy, or rather the period around the civil war which somehow united disparate regions into the country that is now Italy. I am now educated, but not much the wiser.

Image of the book cover

Sex & Bowls & Rock & Roll
by Alex Marsh
"Alex Marsh wanted to be a rock star - but it didn't work out. Instead he toiled away in the big city, only to give up his career, move to rural Norfolk and become a househusband. But he isn't a very good one."
The author is a writer whose blog I used to follow until he stopped updating it, presumably so he could write this book. The narrative is a bit difficult to follow because he skips back and forth between various parts of his life, but I rather like his turn of phrase and his utterly childish outlook. And I actually learned a couple of fairly unimportant things about the game of bowls.

Image of the book cover

Coming Up For Air
by George Orwell
"The First World War, eighteen years in insurance, and marriage to the joyless Hilda have been no more than death in life to George Bowling. This and fear of another war take his mind back to the peace of his childhood in a small country town, but his return journey to Lower Binfield brings complete disillusionment."
I read this in the time it took to have lunch in Wieliczka, catch a train to Krakow airport, wait for the plane and fly halfway back to the UK. So it's quite short, and very easy to read, and also rather sad in its depiction of an unhappy man anticipating war and trying but failing to make himself feel better about his unsatisfactory life.

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