Friday, April 18, 2014

This Week In Books - 18th April '14

So this week I had the privilege of reviewing a brilliantly written novel that is coming out in the last week of April, I chucked yet another Atwood and picked up the first volume in the Clifton Chronicles once again for a re-read.

1. Ruby by Cynthia Bond
Publisher : Hogarth
Pages: 352
Expected DoP: April 29th

The plot follows the life of Ephram Jennings and his childhood love Ruby. The two are driven apart by life, circumstances and prejudices. In a roundabout arc they find their way back to each other but neither is the same as when they were young. Will Ephram let her slip away once again?

Cynthia Bond is a writing force to reckon with. She crafts her characters with such strong authenticity, they leap out of the pages at you. The differences and outright bias that they extend towards each other makes you want to grab them by the ears and knock sense into them. This is a haunting tale, gruesome at times and cruel at others, compassion and love fighting for a chance against life's overpowering bullies. The narration will make you furious and sad, anything but ignore it.

The plot is set in a time when racial prejudice against people of black ancestry was at a peak in the Americas. The language slang is perfect and rings out musical, swears and all. Aside from that there is also a supernatural element running throughout, serving as the sole motivation for certain characters actually, that to me was a sore distraction at times. You might like it. Give this book a shot when it comes out and let me know if you think the voodoo is what makes it awesome.

2. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Publisher: Vintage
Pages: 324
First published: 1986

I am not an Atwood fan. There, I finally admitted it out loud. Boy did I try to read her. I first failed with The Robber Bride and now this. My full-strength ploughing with the text did not help one bit.

My chief problem was the writing style. Atwood is a heavily acclaimed writer, beloved by many. It doesn't help the fact that I find her works absolutely unreadable. In a bookworm's world this makes me equivalent to the geeky nerd who steps into a new school in a new city neighbourhood, made to order bait dangling in front of all available bullies. Can't help. I still can't read her. Her sentences, especially this one Offred's make me want to pull my hair out. They sound like jumbles left out there to make whatever sense you'd like to make out of them. Perhaps in about 20years I'll have the patience to read one more page of this book and not swear the place down, but for the present, I chucked it and I chucked it hard. Too many books to read on the TBR to spend time swearing at just one.

For those adventurous souls out there, brave enough to want to give this book a shot, the plot is kinda terrific and spooky. It is about a possible future time when the government (of course the standard American government) is overthrown by religious extremists who have interpreted religion to their convenience and in general use women as child-bearing devices. Women basically get to do nothing, under fear of existence. The mere notion that Atwood made a fictional hypothesis (double negative, I know) of such a situation befalling women yet again, is super scary and if only she had chosen to write it straight, I'd have given it a shot. Check it out. Let me know if YOU like it!

Another version of this rant appears on my Goodreads page here.

3. Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer

After a double whammy of heavy reading with Ruby and my failed attempt with Atwood, I chose to turn to good 'ol Archer for some light reading. While not path-breaking Archer does write crisp, fast-paced and engaging stories. I'm re-reading the 1st instalment while the other three stare at me tauntingly from my bookshelf. This should be an easy read. Only time will tell...(see what I did there?)

In other news, I'm also doing a buddy read with a friend (duh!). We're tackling Franzen. more about it next week.

So what's your reading week like?

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