Current Affairs

More recent DNFs

I’ve realised the blog has become a bit DNF heavy over the last few weeks – which is a reflection of at least one of the following:

– I’m becoming less patient

– I’m less captivated by reading and want to do other things

– the books I’m reading are terrible

– I’m trying to clear some books off the shelves and am not giving them a fair shot because I just want to be rid of them

– I’m reading too many review books in a row and not enough books that I want to read.

In any case, a quick roundup:

Island of Wings

A Casual Vacancy

The Girl on the Stairs

The Slaughteryard – Esteban Echeverria – 5/10 (DNF)

Key short story by Echeverria, political activist in 1830s Argentina, in a new and very complete edition by The Friday Project containing a long and helpful-for-context foreword by translator which set the historical context (without which I would have been lost), text, glossary, original text with note, further poetry by Echeverria, and translation of foreword to original posthumous edition.

The story is barely 30 pages long, and there is no doubt about its gore and grisliness. The political satire/parody is very extreme – portrays bleak and bloody events and then says they show the glory of the regime. 5/10 awarded because I find it very difficult to award any sort of mark – so short and bizarre.

Additional information: copy courtesy of publisher via Twitter with no expectation of review; Friday Project, 170 pages, order from Amazon here.

Over the Rainbow – Paul Pickering – 2/10 (DNF)

Bizarre story set in Afghanistan now (i.e with war and chaos); Malone and his wife are young aid workers. Malone meets and is captivated by Fatima, Oxford-educated daughter of the former head of Pakistan intelligence services. When she films a cover of Somewhere Over the Rainbow and it is leaked, she and Malone have to go on the run – and what’s Kim up to in Kandahar.

This felt like it was written on an acid trip. On the one hand, the portrayal of aid worker life in Afghanistan is interesting, gritty, bleak but appears well researched; on the other hand, filming a cover of Somewhere Over the Rainbow in downtown bombed-out Kabul? Everything in which Fatima was involved was incredible. The whirlwind romance between Malone and Kim and the fundamentalist religious aspect of their marriage didn’t really make a lot of sense either.

Additional information: unsolicited review copy; Simon & Schuster, 303 pages, order from Amazon here.

Shogun – James Clavell – 4/10 (DNF)

Old-timey shipping adventurers end up in Japan (which is where they were aiming) after storms and shipwreck etc. So they land very much on the wrong foot. That is all that has happened in the first 110 pages (out of 1200).

This was borderline as to whether I continued or not, but another 1100 pages of every pirate on the crew saying his bit in what was a fairly straightforward argument, and random and unnecessary violence, was too much.

If you like shipping adventures and new lands and don’t mind ridiculously convoluted conversations, go for it.

Additional information: part of a big box purchase; Coronet, 1244 pages, order from Amazon here.

7 thoughts on “More recent DNFs”

  1. I received an unsolicited review copy of Over the Rainbow too but haven’t read it as it didn’t sound like my type of book. Based on what you’ve said about it, I think I made the right decision. I did read Shogun a few years ago and enjoyed it, though I can see that it wouldn’t really appeal to everyone. I hope you have better luck with the next book you read!

  2. Review copies can become a bit of a burden :/ I already feel that way and I receive much less than UK bloggers do, so I can only imagine how pressured you must feel. I think it is only fair to give yourself a little break though; it’s fairer on all of the books that you’re going to read too.

  3. I’ve also been dropping them like flies (well, 10 so far in 2012, but that’s still a lot for me!). I’ve become much more rootless when it comes to books that are just meh.

  4. One review copy, one own copy sounds like a good combo! I’m way behind on reading review copies. I’m not even managing to stick to my reading schedule. There’s always a book that calls out to more, which happens to not feature on my to-read list… I think 2013 will be a year of more spontaneous reading.
    Seems like you need a book or two that have proven themselves to be good reads, to get your reading mojo back. Or perhaps you need a break from reading. You did read a lot during your holidays. Maybe other activities are calling out to you more at the moment?

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