Thursday, 18 February 2010

Recent Reads

Having revisited George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four recently, I liked it slightly more than the last time I read it, a couple of years back, but a lot less than when I first came across it.  It strikes me now as stunningly superb in its exploration of power, politics, language, etc, etc, but I find it tedious as a novel.  A long-winded cautionary tale.  I figure I might be in a minority with this view, but I'll stick by it... perhaps until the next time I read it.

I did have a Monty Python moment or two though, particularly when Winston was reflecting on the Thought Police and how it was difficult to anticipate when they would finally pounce.  Hence the YouTube clip at the bottom of this post.

I also read Magdalena Ball's recently published anthology of poems, Repulsion Thrust.  (The Writer's Almanac has been delivering a daily poem  to my Inbox for several months now and it's rekindled my interest in buying and reading poetry.)  Repulsion Thrust is a deceptively slim volume because it actually contains 79 poems, which I think should guarantee that it'll contain something for everyone.  There's a futuristic or other-worldly feel to many of the poems, which I found intriguing because it's not often that science and poetry dances hand-in-hand in quite this way, but physics (and quantum physics no less) certainly plays an interesting role in a number of these poems.  My copy is comfortably dog-eared now as I couldn't resist marking the poems that created the biggest impact on me, and that I'll undoubtedly be returning to.

At present, I'm reading Candi Miller's Salt and Honey - slightly more than half-way through - and thoroughly enjoying it.  Set in Africa, it provides a convincing portrait of life for the Khoisan (Kalahari desert-tribe) and their vulnerability when confronted with "civilisation".  It tells the story of  Koba, who witnesses the murder of her parents by white farmers, and who is then forcibly adopted and transported hundreds of miles from her homelands, her people and her culture.  While this may sound grim, it's not dealt with in a heavy-handed manner at all, and Candi Miller provides both a powerful story and a compelling read.


Mike French said...

Poetry and physics eh? I should give that a try, I come from a Physics background.


1984 - I read that (for the first time!) about 5 years ago and loved it but was puzzled by the huge block of text within it that purely rambles on about the politics outside of the story itself - would have been better for the poor reader if that had been cut out.

Paul said...

Definitely, Mike... on both counts.