Showing posts from November, 2015

I finished das Book!

Sorry, couldn't resist.

I was unsure about reading 'Das Boot'.  War books and films can leave me cold, leaning too far towards the heroes vs villains model or being too overtly political, but Buchheim's novel is nothing like that.  It's less about war and more about men under pressure.  Often literally, in fact.  They are just doing a job, rarely engaging with the politics about why they're at war and what it is they are fighting for.  It's the day-to-day concerns that matter to them, the things that will keep them both sane and alive, leaving little room for rhetoric. 

Instead, they talk about normal man stuff - sex, ambition, food - a facade of masculinity to hide their fear about the very real chance that they will perish at sea.  There is little 'them against us' bluster.  They admire the Tommies with their bravery and sophisticated equipment, and are profoundly moved when they see the human cost of their torpedo strikes. That it is the lives of o…

Putting Das Boot in

It was giggleworthy when my arbitrary reading challenge set me up with 'Das Boot' this week.  Well, until I realised that I had to read the blimmin' thing, that is.  The film is held up as a classic so I have legitimate reason to hope that the original source material is also great.

Although 'The Godfather' isn't much of a book.

And Stand By Me is much better than 'The Body'.

And 'The Hunger Games' is not a well-written trilogy.

Hmmm, my logic may be fallible here.

Flicking through, the general feeling seems to be that it is a great book but too long.  It sounds like the author is fond of elaborate description, a feature that might get tiresome when you consider that the action is set on a U-boat.  However, the feelings of claustrophobia and foreboding are apparently put across well, and it is a slice of history worth discovering.

I have a little bit of 'Wizard and Glass' to finish before I get to it.  This is the fourth book in …

A question of style

If you've kept an eye on my '30 for 30' page, you'll have seen a recent update about the book 'A Little Life'.  I started off reading it hesitantly, struggling a little to differentiate between the main characters and struggling further still to empathise with them, yet the book completely won me over.  The depth with which the characters were drawn, the honest portrayal of relationships, the inevitability of tragedy: it all combined to make something beautiful and profound.

One of the things I didn't mention in my update was the style, but reading 'Hinterland' made me realise how significant the style was in my enjoyment.  In some ways, for a 700+ page novel, the style of 'A Little Life' is quite sparse.  There is not a huge amount of physical description of places and scenes, aside from where it's there to emphasise something about character: we see a place a certain way because that's how one of the characters sees it.  The richnes…