Friday, December 25, 2009

School Book: The Collector

When I started reading John Fowles' The Collector, I didn't want to put it down. It is the story about a Butterfly Collector who comes into a lot of money and uses it to kidnap a young woman. The first third of the book is told from his perspective and it was really creepy; the way things were worded, you just knew that something was going to happen. The second part of the book was told from the girl's perspective, as written in a diary. It detailed most of the events from part 1, everything from her getting kidnapped to the same point where part 1 ends. The final two short parts are again told from his perspective.
Unfortunately, the last parts fall flat. The book seems to build and build to nothing. It was anticlimatic and sort of predictable, if you weren't looking for something more fantastic. I sort of felt cheated reading it.
The Collector reminded me of Tin Man (which I reviewed way back when on Shauna's World) - the beginning was fanatastic, but then it all fell apart as it kept going. Unfortunately, being a book, most people would not be happy with only reading part 1. So my advice is to not bother with this one; find something better.

Monday, December 21, 2009

School Book: The Black Album

Now that school is over for the holidays, I've decided to read some books for next term. The first one I decided to read was Hanif Kureishi's The Black Album. I got it, along with two other books for my Identity in Contemporary British Fiction class. I thought The Black Album sounded interesting, so I decided to try reading it first.
The Black Album tells the story of Shahid, a young man from a Pakistani family who is just starting college. Shahid quickly ends up caught in the middle between radically different people. First, he makes friends with his radical Muslim neighbour, Riaz, who introduces him to several other radically Muslim people, namely Hat and Chad. This group follow Riaz, but Chad, who is the second-in-command, often limits access to the leader. Shahid also ends up involved with his liberal teacher, Deedee Osgood, who enjoys partying hard with sex, drugs and booze. The Black Album is the story of Shahid trying to negotiate his identity, amidst the escalating activities of his Muslim friends. Is he Muslim? Is he liberal like Deedee? Or is he something else altogether?
While it was sometimes hard to keep reading it for long periods of time, I enjoyed The Black Album. This is not something I would typically grab for myself, but it was an interesting read. I did not read "My Son the Fanatic" yet, which was included with my copy of The Black Album, but I hope to read it in the future.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

School Book: Antony and Cleopatra

I just finished reading the last play for my Shakespeare: Blood, Betrayal and Bewilderment class! Overall, I've had a lot of fun reading all of these plays. Yes, I didn't like them all, but it was great to be looking at different plays (not the normal ones like Hamlet, which I have read three times to date for a class).
Unfortunately, Antony and Cleopatra falls into the category of plays I didn't really like. It reminded me of Coriolanus in that it was very confusing. But the confusion mainly stemmed from the disjointed time - one minute Antony is in Egypt, the next he's married, and then his wife wanders back to Rome while he runs back to Egypt. And for a tragedy with lots of big battles, it sure takes a loooong time for people to start dying!
Antony was also a rather strange character. He was very attached to Cleopatra, but then he went off and married another woman when his first wife died. I understand he was marrying for political reasons, but I expected him to put up some kind of fuss; instead he calmly married the other woman and then ran off to Cleopatra again.
Overall, I wasn't really impressed with this play. Like Coriolanus, maybe I'll change my opinion after tomorrow's class, but somehow I doubt it.