Friday, February 03, 2012

An incinerator is a writer's best friend.


Fun? Princes Street, Sandy Bay. January 2012

Two books, but I’ll deal with them quickly.

First up is the Dave Musgrove edited 100 Places That Made Britain is a breeze through British history, from pre-Roman invasion to the present day. Each site has been chosen by a prominent British historian and cover every length of the land and section of history. This is accessible history and would be a great asset if you’re planning a holiday. Recommended!

Second up is the at once hilarious and depressing early John Steinbeck novel Tortilla Flat The tale of a group of paisanos in Monteray, California in the post-WWI period, it vividly recreates a time and place seemingly long gone. The novel details the lives of transient alcoholics – and is loosely based on the King Arthur legend – is not held in high esteem by many who see it as a slur on Mexican Americans.

I am less sure of this. Yes, the days are whittled away drinking, fighting, cheating, chasing women, running from women, thieving, scheming and sleeping, but there’s more than simple colour in the life of these bums, and the novel is both poignant and very funny. There is a complexity to the central characters than I suspect many of its critics see.

I really enjoyed it. More than I probably expected too. You might too. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

Tom said...

tortilla flats is pretty scathing, and hilarious, but i prefer Canary Row (book or movie, take your pick)