Emptied of expectation. Relax. (tinyjo) wrote,
Emptied of expectation. Relax.
tinyjo

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Book reviews

I've been too lazy to update my "Currently" info on the right of my page recently, so you won't have noticed that since Gods Debris, I've finished a couple of other books I wouldn't normally have picked up, both of which I enjoyed in their own way.

I found Gods Debris rather unsatisfying. It read like Scott Adams really needs to take a few courses in philosophy (even just reading Sophie’s World would have helped!) and then come back and look at this again. Some of the questions and ideas he raises are interesting, but they're nearly all areas of existing philosophical debate and he's not doing anything new with them or addressing the issues which have been raised by other philosophers. He doesn't really develop his arguments properly, just making statements without really justifying them or properly exploring their implications.

After that, I finally got around to reading a book that my Dad lent me about a year ago - An Indian Summer by James Cameron (no, not the Titanic guy!). Cameron is a journalist who was sent to India at the end of the Raj and reported on the British withdrawal and the inception of the new Indian state, meeting and becoming friends with men like Ghandi and Nerhu. Now, some 25 years later (early 70's), he returns to India for a honeymoon with his new Indian bride, meeting her family and musing on what it means to be Indian, how the state and the people have evolved. It's a very slow paced contemplative account, very lyrical in language and not at all the style I would have expected from a journalist, except in that it is always somewhat detached. It ends when, at the end of his honeymoon, he stays on to see the fighting just breaking out in Bengal and is involved in a horrible car/bus collision. After dragging himself back to his hotel and then out of India with 2 broken legs, he has to have open heart surgery, which he describes in the same detached dreamlike fashion as his travels. I really enjoyed the way he seemed to allow the culture to speak for itself - striving only to describe it as completely as he could and perhaps to try to understand it. It made India seem like somewhere I might visit someday.

Deciding to stay out of genre for a little longer, I picked up a book I was given for Christmas - Sea Glass by Anita Shreeve. Set on the coast of New Hampshire, starting a year before the stock market crash of 1929 it follows the converging fates of a group of characters from all levels of society. Despite the dramatic events and strong emotions that the story contains, the writing style is very detached and dispassionate. Although there are big important events happening in the characters lives, it feels in some ways more about the people than the plot - a series of portraits. As a style, that's something that's difficult to do well but I think it's done well here and I enjoyed it.

So now I need some genre books to rebalance me - suggestions?
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