July 22nd, 2013

blue tea

26 Du Côté de chez Swann

Originally posted by audrey_e at 26 Du Côté de chez Swann
26 DU COTE DE CHEZ SWANN (Trs: SWANN'S WAY) Marcel Proust (France, 1913)

First volume in " In Search of Lost Time", Swann's Way is about the author's recalling his childhood in the countryside and his first love, as well as the story of Swann, a family friend obsessed with a courtesan.

Those who have never read Proust, have usually at least heard of the very long sentences he is famous for. Moreover, his method of writing is regularly compared to the "stream-of-consciousness" approach used by writers such as James Joyce or William Faulkner. For these reasons, and even though I love the work of the writers aforementioned, I was afraid of Proust.
As it turns out, Proust is far more accessible than Joyce or Faulkner.
Proust's style is very lyrical, and I was quickly drawn into the slow-paced rhythm of his long sentences. His metaphors are particularly beautiful.
I have to admit the section that focused on the narrator's childhood (the longest one by far), was the most compelling. Proust tends to repeat his ideas a lot, and because this section is about personal memories, the repetitions are more justified than when the narrator turns to his neighbor's love story.
While Proust is far less experimental in his writing style than I expected, Swann's Way was a highly enjoyable read, and I'm looking forward to reading his other novels.


27 The Black Company

Originally posted by audrey_e at 27 The Black Company
27 THE BLACK COMPANY Glen Cook (US, 1984)

The Black Company is a band of mercenaries whose alliances are purely financial.

The Black Company is the first volume in the series of the same name.

Because of the season, I was in the mood to start a new fantasy series. I'd heard a lot of good things about this one when I was looking for "grey characters" similar to the ones found in Game of Thrones.
The good thing is that The Black Company is fairly well written, something few fantasy novels can boast of. By that I mean that the language is appropriate to the context, and is therefore - as it should be - the efficient and concise language of a soldier.
But unfortunately it's the content that failed to impress me. Glen Cook believes in the "just throw the reader into this new world" approach. It's not one I dislike as a rule, but so far in the series I don't think he pulls it off. I was confused half of the time as to what was going on. And it wasn't the sort of confused that makes you want to read more, but the one that bores you.
The action itself (or what I understood of it) did not seem to stand out from your average novel, and the characters' personalities felt forced. As for the supposed "greyness" that attracted me to this series in the first place, it resided more in the premise than in the characters.
I have purchased an edition that includes the first three books. I don't know if I'll read all three of them, but I'll definitely try number two. All I want is to change my mind if I can.

  • cat63

Books 44 & 45 for 2013

44. The Beast Master by Andre Norton. 178 pages

After an intergalactic war against and implacable alien enemy, humans emerge victorious, but it's a Pyhrric victory, for Earth has been destroyed. Hosteen Storm, one of the few surviving Terrans is a Beast Master - he commanded a sabotage and reconnaissance team of animals during the war and now he and they must choose a planet on which to settle and make a new life.

But Storm's choice of planet isn't entirely dictated by benign motives- and as he learns more about his new home, he comes to realise that the war isn't quite as over as he's thought…

Typical Norton - outsider hero, mental links with animals and mysterious alien relics, all mixed into a solid space opera plot

45. Hangman's Holiday by Dorothy L. Sayers. 141 pages

Collection of short stories, mostly featuring either Lord Peter Wimsey or Sayer's other protagonist, Montague Egg, the wine salesman.

All entertaining enough, but I feel that these short pieces lack something - Sayers style seems to suit the novel rather better.