Monday, January 6, 2014

reading notes: The Lighthouse & A Matter Of Death And Life



While sorting books at the end of the year, i came across two books i had with me in Lanzarote, i even took their photo there for a book post, and finished reading the Lighthouse. Now i also finished the other - so here, finally, the reading notes:

"The Lighthouse" by Alison Moore 
This novel was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012, and received rather ambigue reviews, which made me curious (plus i loved the cover, and the Lighthouse setting and the journey included seemed perfect for reading it on an island). The jury's note for the shortlisting was: "The judges admired The Lighthouse's bleak inner landscape, a temperature control set low and an impressively assured control." - Which gives an idea of the story, and its demanding character, which make for not exactly a joyful and easy read, but a thought-provoking play with expectations and possibities.

I guess the common expectation is that journeys (or at least the stories about them) tell of meaningful encounters, which lead to insights in the world, and in the nature of life, so that the traveler returns transformed for the better, grown, etc etc, at the positive ending point of the book / journey. In this novel, a counterpart story is told: that going on a journey may enhance the lostness you feel, and you might just encounter others who are just as lost, and trigger a drama based on the unsolved issues of the past, without anyone (except the reader) ever understanding the patterns behind the drama. 

Here's the goodreads page with more on the book, and a whole range of comments from 5star to 1star: The Lighthouse at Goodreads

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"A Matter Of Death And Life" by Andrey Kurkov
I didn't know the book or author when i picked this - it's another of the chance finds of the Open Telephone Box Book Exchange. But recently, i saw the author in TV, he was interviewed about the current Ukranian protest movement he is part of.

The book itself is written about a decade ago, and has both a humorous, melancholic and philosphical touch: it starts with a man who is overcome by the quiet pointlessness of life, decides to die, and at least make a spectacle / mystery out of his death by hiring a killer, which would make his death an unsolvable riddle. But the killer doesn't show up, and instead, he finds himself falling in love with life again.

The Guardian interviewed Kurkov at a book festival, and the stories he told about being a writer in Russia are like a novel itself, here's a bit:
"From the early 80s Kurkov sent "manuscripts of absurdist novels" to Soviet publishing houses without success. At some stage he just "stopped caring" about publication. Friends with access to Xerox machines were illegally copying his manuscripts which were being circulated all over the Soviet Union. "There was something very romantic about it, and I knew I was doing something of interest to other people, not just me. I was invited to Moscow and Leningrad to give these illegal readings at jazz clubs and science clubs and in private flats." .. and after the collapse, things remained difficult: "After the collapse of the Soviet Union most publishing businesses had stopped functioning so Kurkov had to publish himself." -- here's the full article link: A life in books: Andrey Kurkov
So looking at both books, together they are almost telling an ironic & counterparting life tale: the one who wants to go on a journey gets lost and ends up in a drama, and the one who wants to leave the world is instead lead to meaningful encounters.

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Currently Reading + More Reads:


From Russia to Guatemala and onwards...
Right now, i am reading around the world in travelogues, the first is set in Guatemala, and there are more unusual destinations to come. "Be There Now" is a collection of true travel stories featuring twenty-two contributors who share adventures and escapades from around the world. More about it in the next book post.

For more reading notes in this blog, click here: life as a journey with books

A reading list by regions is online at: World Reads by country

2 comments:

The Brunette Librarian said...

Wowzas, 2014 is off to a great start! :) Happy Reading This Week!! The Brunette Librarian's Blog

Daisel Tamayo said...

Goods books. Happy reading.
My books
Xoxo. Daisel @ Owl Always Be Reading