Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Book Report #2 - Örtlich (un)begrenzt

February is soon at its end and I've finished my second book this year.
Well, I'm not even sure if this thing deserves to be called "book", since with only about 100 pages and "only" filled with short-stories and poems it's more like a booklet.

Oh, and yes, it's written in German - the English title would be something like "Locally (un)restricted", unless I didn't get an intended pun.
I've bought it a while ago in our local bookshop. With "local bookshop" I literally mean they are also the local publisher and in that capacity mainly publish book about my home town, the region or things written by people from here.
This particular little book collects stories and poems by 3 women I've never heard of before, and to be honest, I don't care to read anything else from them.

Most of the contents were at best odd and some even downright depressing. I don't read much in that format, but I like them when they are well written and / or clever - these generally were neither.
I bought this book, because I'm a big fan of my home town and had hoped to get a few stories about it or about people who live in it - real or fictional - no matter the genre - no matter the writing style.
Yes, the town and even some special aspects of it get named or even properly used now and then, but almost every bit of the book could have referred to some other place just as well. Sometimes the place is even altogether irrelevant - so why include "local" in the title?

One of the women, at least, wrote funny and even rather clever stories. Her name is Nicole Eick, a namesake.
Nevertheless, this kind of work is not what I would ever like to publish or even show to friends. It just seems too pointless.

Concerning my other current reads, I'm nearing the end of "Wolves of Calla" at a steady pace and it's interesting enough to keep me reading, when I've got the time.
"Les Miserables" also had a few good chapters for a while again, but now it might turn into a long winded history book again. At least, Marius finally met Eponine and Cosette, although he doesn't know their names yet.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Book Report #1 - Aspects of Love

This blog was meant to be dedicated to my own writing - but since that is still going slow and not very well, I might as well blog about my reading. After all, you get often advised to read a lot when you want to write.

I've been reading at least 1 book per month for the past few years. This might sound not so exciting for many people who devour more books, but that's what my free time and other interests and comfortable reading speed allow, usually I end up with 14 to 16 books in a year. It depends on how many pages they have and how interesting they are.

A few weeks ago I started regular cinema reviews on my other blog (livejournal), and this will be something similar. So there might be spoilers, although I usually don't go into much detail. On the other hand, the books I read are usually not the most recent publications. 

The first book I finished in 2014 was "Aspects of Love" by David Garnett. It's only a rather short one and for some reason I can't fathom I own a hardback, German version of it. Perhaps it was a bargain I just bought when I was in the mood, or I got it back when I preferred to read in my native language instead of English.
One thing is sure, I wanted to see what the original story behind Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical of the same title was like. I never saw the show and only own the CDs, which leaves you with some gaps concerning the complete story. And this is a rather tangled one.
As far as I know, the musical follows the book quite literally. It's about a young and very impulsive man, Alexis, who falls in love with the slightly older but no less impulsive actress Rose. She in turn, leaves her young lover for his uncle George, when they meet for the very first time. Of course, George is much older than Rose, but she loves his character as well as his body, and he adores her. So they stay together for many years and later even have a daughter, Jenny. In this book that means, however, that both have affairs the other knows about (Rose even with Alexis again, who once tried to kill her out of jealousy).
Eventually Alexis falls in love with Jenny, who seems at the same time to be much more mature than her years and who prefers to stay a child when growing up means hurting other people. Although it seems like a circle is closing when Jenny wants to become Alexis' lover, he refuses her and tells her to wait until she's really an adult. In the meantime he apparently falls in love and goes away with George's long-time affair Giulietta - at his uncle's funeral, no less.
It's not a bad book, but I wouldn't say it's well written either. There might be love at first sight and you probably can love more than one person at the same time, age-difference doesn't need to be a problem and a fascinating personality can account for much - but it feels wrong and artificial if so many of these extraordinary aspects appear in one place.
What I find most odd about this story is that despite all, the apparent hero Alexis is rather likable until the end, when he betrays Jenny although it is for her own good. The girl seems to be the true hero, but she doesn't appear until halfway through the book.

From "Aspects of Love", I've learned that passion and love can have take on many shapes and that unexpected and seemingly irrational actions of the characters can keep one reading.
On the other hand, I would like to show better in my own stories why characters change their feelings and why their actions are not as irrational as they might appear at first.

I would also like to mention that I am currently reading two other books, too, something I usually don't do.
There is "Les Miserables" from Victor Hugo, which is far more boring and weirdly written than I could have ever imagined.
And Stephen King's "Wolves of the Calla", which is just a very, very thick book, so I simply could not finish it in a regular month.