Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Reading ...

I have been on a massive reading bender which has been nice but feels as though my brain is a bit scrambled. I read the Millenium Trilogy very quickly on my Kobo and decided that Scandinavian crime really has got something going for it. I even bought the DVD of The girl with the dragon tattoo, that's how into it I got.

I also just read Sex and Stravinsky by Barbara Trapido which initially struck a lot of chords with me - the opening sentence "The time is the late 1970s so everyone in the house looks hideous" makes it clear that the book deals the 70s (one of my favourite decades), and is also concerned with the way things look. Tellingly, one of the main characters ends up with an architect. The book is set in the UK but there is an Australian character as well as several South African characters and part of the book is set in Durban, where my grandmother grew up and my great aunt lived for most of her life. I am a sucker for a book that references places and things I know about and the more the merrier. One of the main characters writes stories about a girl called Lola who becomes a ballet dancer - something I and a million other pre-pubescent girls have dreamed about. I liked the mirroring of Josh's academic world with the world of the characters where nothing is as it seems, everyone is wearing a mask and life becomes a funny tragic comic opera. But, I didn't like how it all tied up so neatly at the end. Two of the male protagonists effectively swap wives, and their wives in turn swap lives and daughters. I am sure that this does happen in real life but it didn't feel quite real in the book, and all happened too smoothly and easily with no real ramifications for the people involved - or so it seemed to me.

But, on the subject of husbands swapping wives, I recently read a beautifully written memoir by Jane Alison, Sisters Antipodes. Jane Alison's family became inextricably linked with another family when the two families meet in Canberra in the 1960s. Jane's father was an Australian diplomat and her family consisted of two parents and two daughters, as did this other family, who's father was an American diplomat. The daughters from the other family were of a similar age to Jane and her sister, with one of whom even sharing a birthday with Jane. Jane tells the story of the meeting of the two families from a child's perspective - somehow, she isn't quite sure how and no-one ever really says, the decision is made that she and her mother and sister will go to the US and then South American with the American diplomat while her father will stay behind with the mother and daughters of the other family. And so it set up a lifetime of wondering why and how and of searching for identity as well as the meaning of family and in turn of fathers.

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