Well, it has been a while since I have blogged anything. Life has been busy, work has been hectic, and I have been enjoying the last days of Summer here in Maryland. The Summer weather here is too hot and too humid, but in September things cool down a bit and we generally have a few weeks of truly pleasant temperatures. It was actually nice to walk to work this morning, and it has been nice to spend an evening without the drone of the air conditioner in the background.
As well as bringing cooler weather September brings the short list for the Man Booker prize. Here it is.
- Darkmans by Nicola Barker
- The Gathering by Anne Enright
- The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
- Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
- On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
- Animal's People by Indra Sinha
I have read The Reluctant Fundamentalist and On Chesil Beach, but the local library system does not have any of the other shortlisted books, and I am too cheap to buy them. Perhaps I will break down and buy Animal's People this weekend, if I make it to a bookstore.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist is one of the best books that I have read in quite a while. It is the story of a young Pakistani man in the US before, during, and after the terrorist attacks of 11 Sep 2001. The book tells of how a person who genuinely liked America slowly became radicalized. The story is written from an interesting point of view that could easily have become tedious, but Mohsin Hamid pulls it off well. I highly recommend reading this book. It is short, thought-provoking, and a very strong candidate for winning this year.
On Chesil Beach is Ian McEwan's contribution to literature for 2007, and I was very disappointed with it. The nomination was controversial since the book is less than 200 pages long and thus technically a novella, not a novel. However, I do not think much of this objection. A book should be long enough to tell the story, and no longer. If On Chesil Beach weighs in a few pages short of being a formal novel then I do not think that that should be held against it. My complaint with On Chesil Beach is that the story did not grab me. It felt like a gimmick that had been dragged out far too long. The book should have been a short story. By about fifty pages in I was bored with the characters and their dilemma. It was obvious what was going to happen, and I spent the last three quarters of the book waiting for the punch line. I do not think that this book belongs on the short list.