Books from Everywhere
I’ve been trying to bury myself in the books that I’m working on at the moment, trying to only write prose, rather than fiddling with the internet whenever I’m at the computer. So I haven’t done a great job of keeping up with the blog, despite escaping into other people’s books every evening. I loved Margaret Atwood’s ‘Moral Disorder’. This writer simply can’t write a boring book. I love the way her words work on the page. ‘Moral Disorder’ is a collection of short stories for adults, though Margaret Atwood has written books for children and teenagers as well. The first two stories in this collection are about growing up in Canada in the 1950s and they are so vivid that every sentence makes a new picture in your mind.
Elizabeth Honey’s new book ‘To the Boy in Berlin’ follows on from her earlier ‘Henni’ novel ‘The Ballad of Cauldron Bay’. The complex narrative is told through emails exchanged by Henni and Leo and has so many layers to it that it’s almost like reading a detective novel as you piece the jigsaw puzzle of history and contemporary issues together. One of my sons is living in Berlin at the moment and we try and exchange emails several times a week so Honey’s books was very topical for me. Lately, we’ve taken to using Skype to catch up. I wonder how you’d frame a story built around Skype, rather than emails. Scary to think that not only letters are a dying art form but that emails are going to change as Skype, Facebook and Myspace take over the world of online communication.
‘Making a Mango Whistle’ by Bhibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay is set in an era before computers were even an issue. It’s a beautiful Indian novel about growing up in Bengal in the early 20th Century. It was first published in 1944 but it has a timeless feel. The prose is fantastic – you can smell and taste India on every page and Durga and her little brother Apu are beautifully drawn characters. It’s a classic of Indian children’s literature and was made into a film in the 1950s by the famous Indian filmaker, Satjayit Ray. The original was written in Bengali but the translation by Rimli Bhatacharya is seamlessly smooth.