e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Archive for the tag “opinion”

30 Day Book Challenge

So far I haven’t taken much notice of the various blogging challenges – not because they aren’t interesting but because I don’t think I could follow them properly.

However, I’ve now found one I could try. It is the Thirty Day Book Challenge.

There are thirty questions to be answered, at the rate of one a day if possible. I doubt if I could keep up that pace, particularly not while I’m moving house, so I will endeavour to do one a week starting tomorrow.

I found a useful list of the questions and other interesting stuff on a lovely blog called Snobbery. The link below will take you there.

30 Day Book Challenge.


Connections and commenters


I’ve finally got my act together enough to check my most frequent commenters and pass on the Commenter Award.

The commenter list changes often, so this is just a snapshot of it’s state today. In no particular order the frequent commenters are:

Somersaulting through Life

Hank at Spacenoodles

Seasons and Impressions

Silently Heard Once

Oldstick’s Blog

Jueseppi B at Obamacrat

According to the rules I could nominate one more of my choice, but I can’t choose so I will leave the seventh position blank.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who visit my blog. Your ‘likes’ and comments are greatly appreciated. You are a lovely, friendly, supportive group of people.

An oblique look at fear and suffering

Just finished reading Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel.

Having loved The Life of Pi, I was expecting to be excited and stimulated, but, for me, this book didn’t quite “take off” in the same way.

Which isn’t to say it’s not beautifully written and very original. It is. I just felt it lacks the poetry of Pi and the interior life of the main character. The latter probably has to do with the fact that Henry, the protagonist of Beatrice and Virgil, is not isolated and interacts with a number of other people; so we see his character in conversation and action rather than in thought.

The story is simple. The use of the story-within-a-story technique spins it out and allows the characters to comment in ways they wouldn’t in a straightforward telling. But it also slows it down. Until about half-way through I found the lack of action annoying and kept wondering if I’d finish the book. But gradually it hooked me and I’m glad I gave it the chance.

It deals with huge issues: relations between humans and animals, affection and friendship, fear, pain, suffering and forgiveness among them. Instead of full-on discussion these themes edge sideways into partial view. The reader is allowed to share Henry’s puzzlement over what it all means.

I’m still not sure why it harks back so strongly to Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, but it forced me to reconsider that play, which I studied many years ago and thought I understood.

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