Books Two, Three, Four, Five, and Six

Given that there was just a gigantic storm, it should come as no surprise that there was lots of time for reading! I don’t really feel like going into intense detail on all of these books because I have a lot of work to do, so here are my brief reviews. Please note that the numbering system is going to be running throughout the year, which is why this entry starts with “two” rather than “one,” as The Cunning Man was the second book I read in 2008.

Book Two: The Cunning Man

This was a re-read, as were books three and four. The Cunning Man is by Robertson Davies, who happens to be one of my favourite authors ever. He’s a crusty old Canadian, and it’s a crusty Canadian sort of book. At any rate, the book is about a doctor with some unusual diagnostic techniques, with a delicious mix of scandal and chaos. Davies has a crisp, accessible writing style which I really like, and I tend to like his characters, even the arrogant and flawed ones. And most of them are arrogant and flawed. At any rate, two thumbs up to Davies.

Demographics:

The Cunning Man, by Robertson Davies. Published 1994, 469 pages. Fiction.

Book Three: Murther and Walking Spirits

Murther and Walking Spirits expands upon a small subplot in The Cunning Man. The book is told from the point of view of a dead person, who watches his own murder and is then subjected to a series of brief films about his family history. It’s an interesting tracery of ancestors and intrigue, bitterness and abject misery. Good times.

Curiously, it was actually published before The Cunning Man, even though it fits more appropriately after The Cunning Man in terms of plot. I suspect these were the first two books in a trilogy; bummer that Davies had to go and die.

Demographics:

Murther and Walking Spirits, by Robertson Davies. Published 1991, 357 pages. Fiction.

Book Four: In He Hollers, Let Him Go

I was inspired to read this because I had just finished Native Son, recommended by Tristan, and I thought I ought to give Himes another read. I’m glad I did. This book is more raw and crude than Native Son, with lots of foul language and rough scenes, but it’s an interesting meditation on the theme of racism. Not being black, I think that there’s a lot that I simply miss in books like this, but it’s still an interesting eye into a world where people judge you and made decisions about you on the basis of your colour, and you are powerless to stop it.

Demographics:

If He Hollers, Let Him Go, by Chester Himes. Published 1945, 203 pages. Fiction.

Book Five: Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

I picked this up at the crappy bookstore which I shall not name, desperate for any sort of reading material on Saturday afternoon. As usual, the service was awful. But I did get a good book out of it, so I’m glad I dashed in. This book is a collection of short stories by Murakami, another favourite of mine, and they were all very good.

I love Murakami because his short stories are so abstract and strange. There’s so much going on that I can read them again and again. It was also enjoyable because I was starting to feel very restless and irritable about the whole not having power while everyone else in town did situation, and I didn’t feel like I could focus on a real book. So short stories it was, and they were good. Although I did spill yoghurt on “Crabs.”

Demographics:

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, by Haruki Murakami. Published 2006, 362 pages.

Book Six: Oryx and Crake

This is also a re-read, actually. I re-read a lot of books. Anyway, I was in a dystopian mood, so I decided to read about the collapse of human society. And I did. And it was good. This book is well structured, using flashbacks and present narrative in a way which feels natural, rather than forced or cute. Given that the book is on a theme close to my heart, I enjoyed reading it; I like the concept of engineering a terrible disease which cuts the human population down dramatically so that we can start over again. Yes, I am a bad person. If you haven’t read this book already, I would recommend it.

Demographics:

Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood. Published 2003, 374 pages. Fiction.

I promise that all of my Book Project entries won’t be this truncated. It’s just that I suddenly had a huge stack of books to talk about and I wanted to log them and get it over with rather than drawing it out.