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Caro

Review of 2008 books

The reviewer on our radio for today, asked to choose his best four books of 2008, chose a non-ficiton one, and then Engleby by Sebastian Faulks, Charles Frazier's 13 Moons and The Siege of Krishnagur by JG Farrell.

The first two at least he said had not been reviewed well but he felt they were beautifully written.  With Frazier's second book he suggested that other writers felt jealous of his phenomenal success with Cold Mountain and had marked his second one down, perhaps to the detriment of its sales.  He reminded me of a discussion we had on difficult words: he said Frazier often used words he didn't know, but on looking them up he had then exactly right.

He talked of Faulks's other books, outside of Birdsong, as not quite living up to the brilliance of that one (no mention of poor sex writing!), but with Engleby he was back to his best.  He did make the protaganist in this sound interesting - as described he sounded awful but the reviewer said you ended up liking him a lot.  Has anyone read this and what did you think?

The Farrell one was re-issused after being considered for the best of the Bookers.  Not a book or author we talk about a lot here either.  

Cheers, Caro.
MikeAlx

I got Engleby for Christmas, so will hopefully read it this year. I haven't read The Siege of Krishnapur, but Farrell's Troubles, set in Ireland in the early 1920s, is an excellent novel. Sadly he only wrote 5 or 6 before dying in a fishing boat accident. He was in his forties.
Thursday Next

Like Mikealx, I have read Troubles, which is very good, but not The Siege of Krishnapur. I will add it to my list, though.

I have no idea why Birdsong is so highly regarded. It is clumsily structured, there is a lot of filler and the sex scenes are, as you say Caro, embarassingly bad.
MikeAlx

Thursday Next wrote:
It is clumsily structured, ...

Mostly (in my opinion) because the whole middle section - which is dull, heavy-handed, and doesn't achieve its purpose - could be removed. This excision would also make the ending more exciting/less predictable.
Caro

I have to say I loved Birdsong and didn't myself have any problems with the sex writing.  (But I'm not a very critical reader.)  Part of the reason I enjoyed it so much though was to do with the reading conditions - many of my books are read very much in small spurts; this one I was on holiday and got to read it in a wonderful big chuck.

New books being chosen as I wrote by a different reviewer.  They are something by Belinda Starling (The Journal of Dora Damage) which the reviewer raved about (but sadly the author has died at the age of 34 - too busy writing to get her health checked), Consequences by Penelope Lively ("so refreshing to read a story with a lovely loving relationship"), a NZ one by Kate de Goldi also chosen by tomorrow's reviewer, Salvage by Jane Kotapish and Kate Atkinson's third crime book (also recommended to me by a friend whose tastes seem to agree with mine).  

Cheers, Caro.
Green Jay

Re: Review of 2008 books

Caro wrote:
The reviewer on our radio for today, asked to choose his best four books of 2008, chose a non-ficiton one, and then Engleby by Sebastian Faulks, Charles Frazier's 13 Moons and The Siege of Krishnagur by JG Farrell.

The Farrell one was re-issused after being considered for the best of the Bookers.  Not a book or author we talk about a lot here either.  

Cheers, Caro.


I was drawn to this book - The Siege of Krishnapur - because it got so much mention in an article I read which was full of comments from past Booker judges, and it kept cropping up. Whereas most of the other "big" names keep getting read and discussed, this one seems to have sunk without much of a ripple. Anyone read it at all?

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