Working over the Christmas-New Year break isn’t much easier the second year around, but at least this year I’ve spent a lot of time reading. My aim was 50 books for the year – I managed to complete 45. Close, and not too big a challenge to aim for in 2013!
Today I finished two books – both by Australian women writers. That’s where the similarity ends!
Carpentaria by Alexis Wright
Tough going keeping track of caharacters, events, reality
A difficult read
Long and meandering (often intentionally so)
Unfamiliar places (Gulf of Carpentaria)
Unfamiliar social settings (antagonistic Aboriginal camps and an even more hostile white township)
I had to stop listening after disk 4/16, but one day I hope to read a print copy
Addition by Toni Jordan
Light but clever
A thoroughly enjoyable read (I love anything to do with numbers)
Lots of familiar places
Lots of familiar social settings
Finished this in about 3 short sittings
Here’s my Goodreads review of Carpentaria – or I should say, my first attempt at it!
Don’t be misled by my rating. I gave it 4 stars because it is an outstanding work – but it has defeated me this time. It’s not the sort of book I can listen to, despite the superb narration of Isaach Drandich. There is just too much going on in this book to follow while I’m driving to and from work. Characters come and go, plot lines are left hanging, and events jump around in time. There is so much to absorb, so many events and characters to remember, that it is difficult to appreciate without giving it far more attention than I can while driving! For a while I thought that the author intends to blur the distinctions between dream and reality, thought and action, but I think that it’s necessary to absorb the elements thoroughly to get a better sense of what the book is saying. I may return to a print version – I’m trying to read all the Miles Franklin winners – but for the moment I have a large stack of books begging to be read, and a few lighter novels to enjoy while making the half hour trip to work each day.
I recommend this book to anyone:
hoping to learn more about indigenous Australians;
looking to follow-up Xavier Herbert with something more contemporary, and more literary;
wanting a better understanding of Australia outside the big cities and towns;
crazy enough to want to read all the Miles Franklin winners!