e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Archive for the tag “Reviews”

A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks

Faulks is a well-known and highly regarded writer and I’m not sure how I failed to read any of his books before. This book didn’t put me off him, but also didn’t make me rush out to buy more.

He uses the device of a set period (a week) to tell a complex tale of interacting lives. At first glance his large cast have little or nothing in common – how can a tube-train driver, a teenage wannabe terrorist, a hedge fund manager and an immigrant chutney manufacturer, among others, relate to each other? But they are related in the kind of nebulous social network modern cities foster: A knows B who is suing C who has invited D to E’s dinner party and so on.

Some of the interactions are funny – several of the men have a habit of visiting a soft porn website and ogling pictures of beautiful Olya. They are somewhat confused when she turns up at the dinner party with her footballer boyfriend.

Other relationships are scary. If the terrorist plans succeed not only will several, very vulnerable, people be killed, but a host of so far successful lives will be ruined. The most scary is the hedge fund manager’s plot, which runs as one of the strongest threads through the whole story.

London, the setting for the book, is almost a character in its own right, providing the cast with the semi-public stage they are happy to act on.

Each of these people has their own agenda and storyline, and all of them end in a satisfactory way, but they themselves remain largely ignorant of the effect the week has had on their destinies.

The book is supposed to be a satire on today’s world, and indeed it examines a good deal of modernity. Not only soft porn, but drug taking, high finance, online fantasy worlds, fundamentalism and social insecurity all get a look in.

I personally felt that the satire was fairly superficial and confined itself to a small portion of the population. I preferred to view it as a novel about people whose problems and behaviour wouldn’t be all that different in another time or place. The characters are rounded people whose actions make sense. Their progress through the week and the places they arrive at by the end of it are realistic, and we care what will happen to them.

Mrs Sparkly’s Ten Commandments Award nominations

I have finally got around to fulfilling the requirements of this award. Thanks and all good wishes to the lovely lady at the blog Silently Heard Once who nominated me for it. I’m honoured that you think I deserve it.

Her blog is varied and beautiful and I encourage all my readers to visit it and enjoy.

One of the rules is to nominate ten other blogs. I find this very difficult as there are so many interesting people blogging that I can’t really choose between them. The following are some of those I’ve visited and enjoyed.

Archiving Desk to Desk for all who love books and libraries

Romancing the Bee: making urban beekeeping beautiful

MesAyah who is into such interesting things

Spatialities about urban Canada

Paul West at First Cause who is an indie author

Stuff: taste life, it’s simply delicious

Indie SF reviewers for lots of useful links

Seasons and Impressions for poems and pics

Idiot Joy Showland for writing and philosophy

Claire Atkinson: urban photography

Another rule is to answer ten questions about yourself. I’m not sure I can answer all of them but here they are:

1. Describe yourself in seven words.

Reader, writer, blogger.

2. What keeps you up at night?

Reading.

3. What would you like to be?

Able to eat as much as I want without piling on the pounds.

4. What are you wearing right now?

Jeans and an old blouse.

5. What scares you?

Spiders.

6. What are the best and worst things about blogging?

Best: Exploring other people’s blogs and reading so much interesting, well written and varied stuff.
Worst: I keep reading past my bedtime.

7. What was the last website you looked at?

SF Book Reviews http://sfbook.com/

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Improve my memory.

9. Slankets yes or no?

I don’t know what they are, but probably yes as I don’t think the blogger who thought up these questions would ask about something horrible. (If they are something horrible, then no.)

10. Say something about the person who tagged you?

I think she’s a lady of wide interests and deep thought.

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