Author Topic: A typical Friday Oakers diatribe...  (Read 2200 times)

Mark Oakley

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A typical Friday Oakers diatribe...
« on: November 29, 2013, 11:45:39 AM »
This being a Friday, when my motivation for honest toil is generally exhausted, I thought I’d provide a distraction for the bookworms amongst you with one of my periodic reviews…or ‘homages’ as they tend to be.
Have just ploughed through two epic tomes in quick succession. The first was Eleanor Caton’s ‘Luminaries’ which I was about halfway through when it won the Man Booker prize. A very worthy winner too.  A historic novel based in gold-rush era New Zealand, it’s odd in that it starts in the middle…plunging you into a mystery about missing gold, missing luggage, missing persons and sudden death, with a large and diverse cast of characters, and then moves steadily forwards while fleshing out what’s gone before with a series of flashbacks and reminiscences.
The story itself is not as riveting as others of similar mould such as Matthew Kneale’s ‘English Passengers’ (one of my all time favourites), Joseph O’Connor’s ‘Star of The Sea,’ and William Golding’s ‘Rites of Passage,’ but I’d rank it alongside these on the strength of the writing alone. As well as a knack for flowing, elegant language Ms Caton has a singular talent for baring the inner souls of each of her characters with a few prosaic lines of psycho-analysis. That a 28-year-old should be able to write like this is enough to make even Messrs Heatley and Leonard weep!
Having closed the back cover on that one with a satisfied sigh, I launched straight into something completely different…the final, final, FINAL volume of Stephen Donaldson’s ‘Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever,’ and was completely riveted from Page 1. Fantasy buffs who haven’t tried this series are missing out on a genuine classic. Again, the writing is extraordinary. The thing I find most amazing about Donaldson is that he manages such different writing styles for each of his different projects it’s difficult to credit that they’re by the same author. In the Covenant series he throws arcane words like ‘theurgy,’ ‘threnody’ and ‘augury’ at you in every paragraph, and probably makes up a few to boot, but you pick up the sentiment and the sense without having to keep referring to the dictionary, and the action is relentless. I couldn’t put it down. Absolute unalloyed brilliance from start to finish.
The first half of the first volume of the first trilogy is, admittedly, a bit slow. I will also concede that the second volume of the second trilogy saw an uncharacteristic dip in form, and I would say the same about the third volume of the final quartet. Overall, however, this is glorious stuff…and will enhance the lives of any who take the plunge.
Which brings me to a bug-bear. Why do the best authors of adult fantasy so seldom pick up the major literary awards? It seems to be respectable to write fantasy for kids…J K Rowling, Roald Dahl, E.Nesbit, C S Lewis et al., but not for adults! All very snobbish in my view.

Barry Island

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Re: A typical Friday Oakers diatribe...
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2013, 06:10:08 PM »
So many injustices in the world Oakers. It probably all comes down to a class thing. :(
Forgive me my nonsense, as I also forgive the nonsense of those that think they talk sense

Akeno-Pool

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Re: A typical Friday Oakers diatribe...
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2013, 09:22:30 PM »
I once spent an evening chatting up JK Rowling in a tent.
Before (just) she was famous.

Regrets...I've had a few....

rockprof

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Re: A typical Friday Oakers diatribe...
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2013, 10:35:35 PM »
Used to go to college with Josie (Wendy) Lawrence. We had to walk back home in the snow one day because the buses were off, and we thawed out in her bedroom before I carried on home. Nothing happened.....

Barry Island

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Re: A typical Friday Oakers diatribe...
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2013, 02:20:19 AM »
I like books
Forgive me my nonsense, as I also forgive the nonsense of those that think they talk sense