Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Paul Auster - Winter Journal - My Review

Winter Journal by Paul Auster

Paul Auster is one of the authors that I would call ‘My Favourites’, there are several others: Kazuo Ishiguro, Philip Roth, the late Robertson Davies, Ian McEwan, Magnus Mills, Xiaolo Guo, Maggie O’Farrell and Peter Ackroyd. Whenever there is a new book by any of these authors I ‘have’ to have it. I have read every book by Paul Auster, not for the subject matter, but just because he is the author. When Winter Journal was advertised I pre-ordered it, so that I could have it as soon as it was available. I didn’t know what it was going to be about, but from the title I assumed it would biographical. I was right. An Auster book has never disappointed me and Winter Journal is no exception.

The sleeve notes begin with this: On 3 January, 2011, exactly one month before his sixty-fourth birthday, Paul Auster sat down and wrote the first entry of Winter Journal, his unorthodox, beautifully wrought examination of his own life as seen through the history of his body. That is exactly what it does. Auster takes us through his life by reflecting on things that have effected him; major events, such as deaths of family members, births, marriages, car accidents etc; addresses he has lived at; scars on his body. He writes as if he is writing to himself. He gives an in depth assessment of how all these things have influenced and changed him. It is an honest and no holds barred description of the episodes in his life, and his response to them. He is not afraid to tackle the difficult issues, such as an Aunt who doesn’t hold back from criticising his Mother just a few hours after her death, or the car accident for which he feels responsible and stopped him driving.

This book is a really good read. It caused me reflect on my life and made me think about the many things that have happened during my lifetime. I am just a few months younger than the author. I don’t know if all men of my age could relate to it as I have, but there are lots of similarities in our stories. The only thing I disagree with and could not relate to was the last sentence of the book:

“You have entered the winter of your life.”

I personally, don’t feel that way. I feel as though I am in late summer/early autumn of my life. There’s plenty to do yet.

Winter Journal is an excellent and very well written book, which I would thoroughly recommend. Auster once wrote that the purpose of a book a book is to entertain. It certainly does that. I just hope he keeps writing, because I am already looking forward to the next one.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Evolution of Inanimate Objects - My review.

The Evolution of Inanimate Objects: The Life and Collected Works of Thomas Darwin (1857-1879) by Harry Karlinsky

I don’t usually do book reviews because I can never think of clever things to say. But, I enjoyed this book so much I thought I’d give it a go.

Loved it. I read it over a couple of days, that’s quick for me; it is a short book, and enjoyed every bit.

The Evolution of Inanimate Objects: The Life and Collected Works of Thomas Darwin (1857-1879) by Harry Karlinsky is a novel and does not pretend to be anything else. Thomas Darwin the son of Charles Darwin did not exist. Having said that, the book is so well researched and written that you would think it is biographical.

Thomas is a man who is obsessed with cutlery, he believes that cutlery, and other inanimate objects, evolve of themselves, as with plants and animals. Whilst at University he presents papers on the subject and of course he is well received at first because of his Fathers’ reputation. Soon though people begin to realize he’s a bit bonkers. He ends up dying of Tuberculosis in a Canadian asylum, at the age of twenty-one. 

The research carried out by Karlinsky into the works Darwin and others is phenomenal. The book is an easy read and humorous; it had me laughing out loud, in public, on a couple of occasions.

There are some very good illustrations in the book.

I read it in Kindle on my iPad, but felt I would like to have had a hard copy so that I could ‘feel’ the book and see how it was laid out. The benefit of reading it on iPad is that you can enlarge the illustrations, which you can’t do with a hard copy.

It is one of the best books I have read this year, and I would recommend to anybody. Well done Harry. More please.