Sunday, October 03, 2010

The days slip by slowly

I am not given to lie-ins and I had one on Saturday which I think speaks volumes for the way in which this term has started. God help us all when we finally fall comatose at the end of term in late December.

Here, at the beginning of October we contemplate the long slog to the Christmas holidays without a half term to lubricate the dagger – and I’m not sure that the metaphor is actually going anywhere, but it does give you some idea of the arid waste which stretches ahead!

On the plus side, of course, there is the weather. How can I be negative when a day affords me the opportunity to lie out on the Third Floor in a pair of shorts and soak up the sun. Saturday was a delight and I even managed to prop my somnolent eyes open for long enough to get thoroughly stuck in to my latest read, “Lacuna” by the rather wonderfully named Barbara Kingsolver.

The book is the life story of a young Mexican-American from his first formative years in Mexico with his fortune hunting mother through the years in America to his final return to Mexico.

This is a novel told in various voices using the notebooks of the main character Harrison Shepherd with interpolated comments from his stenographer/editor; book reviews; letters and other salient pieces of writing.

The action is enlivened by the fictional Harrison being involved with the real painters Diego Rivera and his wife Frida Kahlo – though they, and Trotsky, are used as essential elements in the narrative rather than window dressing to give weight to the story.

The essential action of the story is set in Mexico in 1935 and America in the late 40’s leading up to the Committee on Un-American Activities in the early 50’s. By this time Harrison has become a popular writer using the ancient civilizations of Mexico to provide the background for a rip-roaring story whose story line could be said to echo the political events of the present day.

The writer obviously delighted in writing in various voices and the pace of the novel is as much conveyed by personal development in a political context as by the momentous historical events through which the hero lives.

Although the ending is pleasingly ambiguous it suggests a positive view of development through adversity that is a just reward for following the hero though some 700 pages!

Would I recommend this book? Probably yes; though I think that its length is a little self indulgent.

Talking of self indulgence I have decided to give in to the new blandishments of Amazon and the Kindle. All the functions of the machine are supposed to work in Spain, specifically in Castelldefels (all checked out) and I look forward to the “free” internet connection which is supposed to be paid by Amazon.

This will be my third e-book which, given they can contain up to 4,000 books may appear to be a little excessive – but at least they will still be fewer than the number of cameras that I possess!

Toni is going to buy me a portable internet radio for my birthday, or at least refund me for it, as I am attempting to buy one on the internet (poetic!) at the moment. The major problem that I am experiencing is that I have a new card: the same details but a different expiry date.

This has thrown the whole of Amazon into confusion and I have had an increasingly strident series of automated emails from Amazon desperate for the money. It remains to be seen if Amazon can get this sorted by United Nations Day!

Meanwhile to bed as tomorrow is an 8.15 start!
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