Tuesday, September 25, 2012

AFTERNOON MEN - Anthony Powell

A novel involving the 'lost generation' - that group of young people between the wars who seemed to spend their time, drinking partying and proposing to any female who would listen.

The synopsis  to this edition has this absurdity to say  " Nobody, not even Evelyn Waugh has done the British "lost generation" better than Anthony Powell......."

Well, I have to disagree, this is a poor mans "Vile Bodies"  at this stage of his writing career Powell was not even close to Waugh and as this was published a year after 'Vile Bodies" the conclusion is that Powell pretty much copied Waugh's scenario.  This story has some very funny moments, the chapter at Pringle's country house is very clever, but overall not as consistent as the mighty Waugh at this age.

Worth reading, its light and short but if you read Powell go in boots and all to his twelve volume masterpiece " Dance to the Music of Time" then you will be reading a novelist that is the equal of Waugh.   (1931)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

THE SCARECROW - Ronald Hugh Morrieson

How can you not love a book that contains these couple of paragraphs:

"According to my father the police have found out that this guy conks them first and then roots them and that makes him the saddest guy and a necro something"

" Well, Les, you certainly surprise me. I'm not quite sure I quite understand this conks and then roots them business."

"Well neither am I, Neddy,' Les confessed. ' But you can take it from me that's the general idea.  It's what my father said to my mother and he wouldn't be kidding her"

This is the world of 14 year old Neddy Poindexter and and his mate Les in small town New Zealand in the mid 20th century.

This small town is visited by rape and murder and along the way we glimpse the idiosyncrasies of the people living in this town.

Morrieson has got the time ,place and country down pat and this coupled with a good Gothic horror storyline makes for a great novel.  In my opinion  this story leaves Stephen King's 'The Body"  or Stand by Me ,the movie version, for dead, bad pun intended.

Again. I have to wonder why Morrieson is not better known especially in New Zealand, its something that worried him prior to his death in 1972 and I'm wondering still.  He's just very good and his books should still be in print. (1963)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

WOE TO LIVE ON - Daniel Woodrell

Set during the American war this novel is brutal. It follows a band of southern irregulars who justify their torture, barbarisim and constant murders as the acts of freedom fighters.

The northern Federals are just the same, they just wear different colours.

There is no glamour in this western, it shows how hard life was for the farmers and these men alike.

The story itself is nothing marvellous, the narrator is a young murderer who eventually sees some sort of light after several incidents and steps back from the way he has been living.

Whats great about  the book is Woodrells prose, I'm still raving to people about 'Winters Bone" and although this is no where near as good , the writing is quality and just great to experience.  (1987)

CREOLE BELLE - James Lee Burke

Another Dave and Clete story that started out absolutely riviting and then sadly lost it's way.

Much " meaning of life" thinking from our hero which gets a bit old for those who have followed the series.

The boys are out to solve a murder or two, kids are involved, nasty oilmen types as well and professional killers.  It really should have been much better and after finishing it I was still left with a big "why' regards several of the killings.

I hate to say it but the "Robicheaux" series has run its race, a pity because its been fantastic, I've been there all the way but this latest effort was just confusing, too many story lines and not enough resolution.   (2012)