21 December 2011

A Prayer for Owen Meany

I am in a book club with a group of girlfriends. We meet once a month (on average) drink wine and eat too much, and most of us usually attempt to finish a book in the between-weeks. This month our book was "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving. I had heard good things about it, and had been wanting to read it for a while. 

It was a long book. Potentially made longer by the fact that the average chapter length is 60-80 pages of small typeface. I am usually quite a quick reader, but this book was a little like running through mud. I'm sitting here, staring at the computer, trying to figure out what to say about it. 

I have mixed opinions about "A Prayer for Owen Meany". Parts of this book I really liked, but unfortunately I had to wade through a lot of long winded, and unnecessary, descriptions of things and situations that didn't appear to have anything to do with the plot. There was a lot going on, and I wasn't sure which plot lines to pay attention to and which ones were superfluous to the storyline. 

One of the major themes is faith, and Owen's unfailing belief that he is a direct instrument for God's work. Possibly one of the reason's I struggled to find the story in any way believable is that I am not religious. I felt that Owen used this belief as an excuse to get away with doing whatever the hell he wanted and offending anyone he felt like. Instead of observing manners or courtesy, he took no personal responsibility for his rudeness. I found his character self righteous, self important, and just plain irritating.

I think this is an interesting point, because a) I have friends who loved this book who aren't religious, and b) I'm sure that some of the religious opinions put forward in this book would have offended some who are. 

I did like the ending of the book. I thought it was original, and it did wrap up a few questions I had... and justified a couple of small annoyances I also had. Another thing I liked about the book was the writing. Not a whole lot to say on that point really, apart from outside of the fact that I found segments of the books boring and irrelevant, it was relatively easy to read. 

If you're looking for a book that will provoke some interesting conversations, this one will do it. Certainly kept my book club in discussion - with lots of different opinions!

Has anyone read it? Opinions? 

12 December 2011

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Last night I went to see "We Need to Talk About Kevin". I am always hesitant to see any movie made from a book that I like - I usually don't feel that the movie has done the book justice. It also tends to taint my opinion of the book retrospectively - I feel like if I don't enjoy the movie, I have to question whether I really liked the book. Irrational, yes, but still.

Kevin is a book that I've actually read a couple of times (not too many books make that list - there are so many exciting new stories out there!). Luckily, the most recent reading wasn't that recent - maybe 12 months ago. This means that I can overlook (or more likely - not notice) small differences.

The big things were there. The plot wasn't played with. Obviously to take a 450+ page book and turn it into a 2hour movie there needs to be some concessions. My opinion is that one of these concessions was the depth of the relationship between Kevin and his sister Celia, and all that he did to her.

On the whole, I really quite enjoyed the movie. I thought it was very well cast - Tilda Swinton was the perfect Eva, and that evil little toddler! So good it was almost creepy. I thought they could have developed Franklin's character a little more, and played more on the wedge that Kevin drove through Eva and Franklin's relationship. Because of these little intricacies, I would very much recommend you read the book before seeing the movie. You will get the themes out of the film, but you'll definitely understand them much more fully having read the book. 

I thought the book was very well written, and this translated into a very disturbing movie. My friend said it best - "I've never been so put off having children". So there you have it people, this movie is great contraception.

What is your opinion on books into movies? Any hits or misses that stand out in your memory?

04 December 2011

Christmas Reading

One of my favourite things to do is wander through book shops. It's so much fun just looking at what's there, getting ideas for everyone's Christmas presents, and exploring the new authors and old favourites. There are a number of books out at the moment that I've got on my Christmas wish list ;) 

These include (but is certainly not limited to!):

The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes

The Streetsweeper - Eliot Perlman

The Marriage Plan - Jeffrey Eugenides

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

I've also got a little stack of books that has been piling up beside the bed - it's such a busy time of year that my reading has taken a bit of a back seat to my birthday and Christmas celebrations! So I'm hoping to get through a few of these during the holidays...

A Song in the Daylight - Paullina Simons

Bloodlines - Richelle Mead

Cross Stitch - Diana Gabaldon

So it looks like I've got a busy time in front of me! Fire up the kettle and I'm all set.

What's on your holiday reading list, and what new books are you hoping to get for Christmas?